Impotence and related health issues.
First published December 2003.
Erectile dysfunction is very common and becomes more common as men age.
Erectile dysfunction is when a man is unable to get and/or keep an erection that allows sexual activity with penetration. It is not a disease, but a symptom of some other problem, either physical, psychological or a mixture of both.
An Australian survey showed that at least one in five men over the age of 40 years has erectile problems and about one in ten men are completely unable to have erections. With each increasing decade of age, the chance of having erectile problems increases.
Erectile dysfunction is the "canary in the coal mine" for men's health. It can be an early warning system for diabetes and heart disease. For many of the diseases which affect the blood vessels and nerves in men, the first signs he might have won't be chest pains or the need to drink lots of water in the case of diabetes, it will come years before with the onset of erectile problems.
For most men, erectile dysfunction cannot be cured, but for some there may be a reversible underlying cause. For this reason, it is important to assess all men with erectile problems to see if there is a treatable cause.
This guide provides a comprehensive overview of the causes, prevention, diagnosis, treatment and management of erectile dysfunction.