Erectile dysfunction is the inability to get and maintain an erection during sexual intercourse. The problem must persist for at least six months before being diagnosed.
How many men experience Erectile Dysfunction?
Erectile dysfunction affects approximately 20% of Spanish men over the age of 18 years, this percentage increases with age and it affects over 50% of the male population aged 50 or over.
What is an erection?
An erection is produced in response to a sexual stimulus. This “response” is regulated by our central and peripheral nervous systems which increase the amount of blood flowing to the penis. And so the penis fills with blood and becomes erect.
Remember that this response only lasts while there is an erotic stimulus; if for any reason we lose interest in the sexual situation then the erection will probably disappear.
On the other hand, the body must count on normal levels of testosterone to produce an erection. Testosterone is the male sex hormone that regulates, among many other actions, sexual desire and the erection response. When the level of this hormone decreases it significantly reduces sexual desire and makes it difficult to obtain an erection.
The peripheral nervous system and circulatory system must also be working correctly in order to obtain this erection “response”. Therefore, diseases that affect nerve conduction (e.g., diabetes, multiple sclerosis, alcoholism) or heart and artery conditions (e.g., obesity, arteriosclerosis), will lead to insufficient blood flow to the penis and the inability to obtain an erection even when sexually aroused.