Girlfriend making fun of her man for having a type of erectile dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction, also known as impotence, is the most commonly diagnosed sexual dysfunction in men. This problem affects more than 150 million men worldwide [1] and the number is increasing each year.

Today we will be taking an in-depth look at the different types of erectile dysfunction and the causes of this sexual disorder.

Keep reading to learn more…

What Is Erectile Dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction is the diagnosis when a man is not able to get an erection or he is unable to keep his erection long enough to engage in sexual intercourse.

A man may be able to become aroused and have the desire for intercourse but still be unable to get an erection. A man may be able to get an erection but is might not become hard enough to engage in intercourse. A man may achieve an erect sexual organ but the erection may not last long enough to participate in sexual intercourse. In some cases, a man may be unable to feel the desire for intercourse as well as be unable to get an erection but this is most likely from a low libido rather than strictly impotence. [2]

To fully understand this sexual disorder, you must first understand the biological processes that lead to an erection…

In order for a man to get an erection, he must first become aroused by something. His brain then releases hormones and chemicals that trigger processes in his body alerting the sexual organ to relax its muscles. Once these muscles are relaxed, the body pumps extra blood to the penis and the blood fills the arteries and tissue of the penis engorging it until it becomes hard. The blood is temporarily trapped in the penis to allow for intercourse. This is how an erection is formed. [3]

Whenever anything happens to prevent these processes and functions from being completed, erectile dysfunction can become a problem for a man.

This problem is far more common in older men but it is not an inevitable result of aging. [4] There are many things that can lead to a man developing erectile dysfunction including physical issues, psychological issues as well as certain medication side effects and lifestyle choices.

What Types of Erectile Dysfunction Are There?

There are distinctions between types of erectile dysfunction as well.

In primary impotence, a man has likely never been able to achieve an erection due to some physical issue in the penis.

Secondary impotence is the classification when a man was once able to get an erection but for some reason no longer has the ability to do so.

In situational impotence, a man may have the ability to get an erection in some scenarios (like watching pornography) but not in others (like with an actual partner).

Partial impotence is when a man can achieve an erection but it becomes soft quickly afterward. A man can also get an erection that stays floppy and never gets fully rigid.

In total impotence, a man never gets an erection. There are no erections first thing in the morning, no erections upon arousal…nothing.

Even among these types of erectile dysfunction, the problem can be classified into different causational categories determined by what is causing the impotence. It is useful for doctors to be able to further pinpoint the problem as it can help them determine what the best course of action will be.

These causational categories are:

  • Diabetic – If a man has diabetes, the disease can cause neurologic, physiologic or vascular issues that can lead to erectile dysfunction. Patients with diabetes are three times as likely to develop impotence when compared to nondiabetic men. [5]
  • Neurologic – Injuries to the spinal cord or pelvis, damage from surgeries, strokes or diabetic neuropathy are all causes that can lead to neurogenic erectile dysfunction. These ailments and diseases can cause problems with nerves which can negatively affect a man’s ability to get or maintain an erection. [6]
  • Vascular – Anything that results in insufficient blood flow to the penis can result in erectile dysfunction. Things like atherosclerosis, high blood pressure and diabetes all cause stress to the vascular system and can prevent a man from getting an erection. [7]
  • Psychological – Anxiety and depression can be both a cause and a symptom of erectile dysfunction.

In addition to these types of impotence, the dysfunction can also be the result of hormonal imbalances. If important hormones like thyroid or testosterone are not within normal parameters, a man’s body will not function properly and he may not be able to achieve an erection.

Prescription medications used to treat some of these medical issues – especially those used for depression or high blood pressure – can lead to erectile dysfunction in men. [8]

Do I Have Erectile Dysfunction?

If your erections are not as hard as they once were, or you frequently experience the inability to get an erection or you cannot seem to keep that erection long enough to enjoy intercourse but you still have plenty of sexual desire and can be aroused then you may be living with erectile dysfunction.

It is vital to get a hold on this problem before it gets worse. Erectile dysfunction is often a warning sign of much bigger problems like cardiovascular disease. [9]


If you think you may have erectile dysfunction, you should speak with your doctor about your symptoms and experiences to determine what course of action is right for you.

There are many treatment options available these days, and you and your doctor can work together to find one that can *improve your erections and *increase your quality of life.



[1] Ayta IA, McKinlay JB, Krane RJ (1999) The Likely Worldwide *Increase in Erectile Dysfunction Between 1995 and 2025 and Some Possible Policy Consequences. BJU Int 84(1):50-6

[2] Singh JC, Devasia A, Gnanaraj L, Chacko KN (2005) Erectile Dysfunction. Natl Med J India 18(3): 139-43

[3] Creed KE, Carati CJ, Keogh EJ (1991) The Physiology of Penile Erection. Oxf Rev Reprod Biol 13:73-95

[4] Laumann E, Das A, Waite L (2008) Sexual Dysfunction among Older Adults: Prevalence and Risk Factors from a Nationally Representative U.S. Probability Sample of Men and Women 57-85 Years of Age. J Sex Med 5(10): 2300-2311

[5] Maiorino M, Bellastella G, Esposito K (2014) Diabetes and Sexual Dysfunction: Current Perspectives. Diabetes Metab Syndr Obes 7:95-105

[6] Bleustein CB, Arezzo JC, Eckholdt H, Melman A (2002) The Neuropathy of Erectile Dysfunction. Int J Impot Res 14(6): 433-9

[7] Wespes E, Schulman CC (2010) Erectile Dysfunction and Cardiovascular Diseases. Arch Esp Urol 63(8): 649-54

[8] AlKhaja KA, Sequeira RP, AlDamanhori AH, Mathur VS (2003) Antihypertensive Drug-Associated Sexual Dysfunction: A Prescription Analysis-based Study. Pharmacoepidemiol Drug Saf 12(3): 203-12

[9] Nunes KP, Labazi H, Webb RC (2012) New Insights into Hypertension-Associated Erectile Dysfunction. Curr Opin Nephrol Hypertens 21(2): 163-70

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