Erectile dysfunction : definition, frequency

Erectile dysfunction is characterized by the regular or repeated disability to obtain or maintain an erection to get a satisfying sexual intercourse. Symptoms must last since at least 3 months to begin a medical management.


It is a  very common desease : up to 40% of men over 40 years. Aging increases the likelihood of presenting with erectile dysfunction . As life expectancy increases almost constantly, this problem will affect more and more men . Some diseases cause or accelerate erectile dysfunction . Thus, nearly 8 out of 10 patients with high blood pressure and diabetes have erectile dysfunction all stages ..


Distinguish organic and psychological erectile dysfunction

  • Organic: an erection involves the central nervous system, the peripheral nervous system, local factors with the erection bodies or the penis itself, as well as hormonal and vascular (blood flow or circulation) components. A lesion of one or more of these elements can lead to an organic erectile dysfunction.
  • Psychological: penile erection is a reflex. Psychological impotence is where erection or penetration fails due to thoughts or feelings (psychological reasons) rather than physical impossibility; this is somewhat less frequent but can often be helped. Erectile dysfunction can have severe psychological consequences as it can be tied to relationship difficulties and masculine self-image.
  •  These two kinds of erectile dysfunctions have to be identified, even if they are associated or not. Furthermore other troubles may be presents: premature ejaculation, anorgasmia, low desire or libido. These issues have to be managed in the same time of erectile dysfunction.


Erection is a complex phenomenon. Many factors are involved : psychological, hormonal, vascular, neurological, tissular.
Disturbance of one of these factors can lead to an erectile dysfucntion :

  • Emotionnal/psychological problems
  • Cardio-vacular diseases
  • Neurological lesion (traumatism, surgery, neurological disease,…)
  • Endocrinal troubles (thyroid diseases,…)
  • Side effects of medications

Identify each trouble is essential in erectile dysfunction management.