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The following is from the Sexual Function Health Council of the American Foundation for Urologic Disease (AFUD).

blue ball  What is impotence or Erectile Dysfunction (ED)?

Impotence or Erectile Dysfunction (ED) is defined as the inability to achieve and maintain an erection sufficiently to permit satisfactory sexual activity.

blue ball What is the difference between impotence and erectile dysfunction?

Nothing except the more modern term is erectile dysfunction, especially in the US. The rest of the world, especially Europe and Asia still use the term impotence to describe their condition.

blue ball Is impotence a disease?

No, it is usually more of a symptom or side effect of something else. That "something else" can be quite serious, even life threatening in some cases, so the cause of impotence needs to be determined and corrected if possible. This obviously means you should let your family doctor know if you are one experiencing erectile problems.

blue ball Is impotence treatable?

Yes, often the underlying cause can be determined with a few simple tests and in some cases corrected. Even if the cause is not correctable (i.e. high blood pressure, prostate cancer, atherosclerosis, diabetes, etc) nearly every man can have his erectile dysfunction treated and satisfactory erections restored.

blue ball How common is impotence/erectile dysfunction?

Unfortunately, very common. A recent study done in Massachusetts showed that 52% of men between ages 40-70 had some degree of erectile difficulty. It is estimated that between 20 and 30 million men in the US have erectile dysfunction, only a small percentage of them have yet to seek or receive treatment.

blue ball Isn't most impotence/erectile dysfunction an emotional or psychological problem?

Not really. While it is true that problems with erections can cause great psychological stress for the man who has it, the underlying cause of the problem in up to 90% of cases is a physical or medical one.

blue ball What kinds of medical problems cause impotence?

Things like hypertension, coronary artery or heart disease, "hardening of the arteries" (arteriosclerosis), hyperlipidemia, elevated cholesterol levels, diabetes, stroke, neurologic problems like multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease and spinal cord injury. Surgery or radiation to correct cancer on the pelvic area (colon, bladder, prostate) can cause impotence. Also many medications, especially blood pressure medications and anti-psychotic drugs, can cause erectile dysfunction or impotence as a side effect.

blue ball What about my partner?

Impotence or erectile dysfunction is not just a man's problem. It's a "couple's disorder." Involving your partner and discussing how this is affecting both of you is very important and often leads to better communication and understanding between couples and certainly to easier solutions.

blue ball What should I do if I want help or need information?

Talk to your family doctor or specialist about your problem. You can also access valuable information on this Website by emailing your questions - just follow the prompts. You can also set up a telephone appointment with a physician (urologist) who is a well-known specialist in the field of erectile dysfunction by the following the prompts.

{A link to the AFUD Web site can be found under "Professional Organizations" at a resource page here at P5.)
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This information is provided for educational purposes only and does not replace or amend professional medical advice. Unless otherwise stated and credited, the content of Phoenix5 (P5) is by and the opinion of and copyright © 2000 Robert Vaughn Young. All Rights Reserved. P5 is at <>. P5's policy regarding privacy and right to reprint are at <>.