Erectile dysfunction is fairly common among men over the age of 50 years, but it can also affect younger patients due to high levels of stress or sleep disorders. The condition is often misunderstood for a complete lack of erection. Instead, erectile dysfunction describes any symptoms whereby men are unable to get or maintain an erection. So, what are the most common and uncommon symptoms of erectile dysfunction?
Common symptoms of erectile dysfunction include:
- Having difficulty in getting an erection
- Having difficulty in maintaining an erection
- Soft erections resulting in unsatisfactory sex
- Decreased sensitivity in the penis
If you experience some of these symptoms occasionally, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have erectile dysfunction. However, if symptoms become more frequent, it’s advisable to check for erectile dysfunction or related diseases.
Less common symptoms and early warning signs
Changes in sexual performance may not always be immediately noticeable to patients. Sometimes their partners are the first to recognize that something is off. For example, your partner may notice reduced libido, weaker production of semen, mood changes or other sexual adjustments. Changes in the angle of an erection may also paint to erectile disorders.
Erectile dysfunctions usually don’t happen from one day to the next; they progress gradually. But it’s important to address any concerns you or your partner may be having sooner rather than later.
Why you should monitor the health of your erection
Erectile dysfunctions are common, but they’re not inevitable or untreatable. Rates of recovery depend on any underlying medical conditions you may have, or lifestyle changes you are willing to commit to. An analysis of multiple research studies found that 40 minutes of physical activity four times per week was protective against erectile disorders.
If you have been diagnosed with diabetes or obesity and are suffering from erectile dysfunction, increasing your exercise regime, eating a healthy diet and getting adequate sleep could help restore healthy erections.
But it’s important to monitor symptoms of erectile dysfunction as they can be signals of a more serious complication. A study of 150,000 individuals found that issues with erection could predict cardiovascular disease. Men who developed erectile dysfunction also had a higher risk of heart disease. This is largely due to the fact that erectile dysfunction is a vascular disorder and issues with blood vessels are often associated with other illnesses. In some cases, mental conditions such as depression or anxiety can cause a reduction in erections during sex.
Monitor your early symptoms but speak to your doctor if symptoms persist.
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- Pastuszak, A. (2014). Current Diagnosis and Management of Erectile Dysfunction. Current Sexual Health Reports, 6/3: 164-176. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11930-014-0023-9
- Gerbild, H., Larsen, C., Graugaard, C., & Areskoug Josefsson, K. (2018). Physical Activity to Improve Erectile Function: A Systematic Review of Intervention Studies. Sexual Medicine, 6/2: 75-89. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.esxm.2018.02.001
- Zhao, B., Hong, Z., Wei, Y., Yu, D., Xu, J., & Zhang, W. (2019). Erectile Dysfunction Predicts Cardiovascular Events as an Independent Risk Factor: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 16/7: 1005-1017. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsxm.2019.04.004
- Thompson, I. (2005). Erectile Dysfunction and Subsequent Cardiovascular Disease. JAMA, 294/23: 2996. https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.294.23.2996