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Erectile dysfunction – a definition.

Here goes (ahem): Erectile dysfunction (ED) is the failure to achieve and maintain an erection strong enough for sex.

Let’s face it, most men run into this problem at some point. Often it’s just a one-time thing. But it’s when it keeps happening that it becomes a problem you should take up with a doctor.

How long it needs to be happening for it to be medically defined as ED is a subject pretty open to discussion. There is an actual, officially recognized scale of ED. It’s called The International Index of Erectile Function (IIEF) and gives men an ED ‘score’, based on their erection habits over the previous month.

Normally, a doctor will just make an assessment by asking a man a few questions about his symptoms and general health.

Who gets ED?

Up to 30 million Americans at a given time.

That’s what Harvard Health say (and we believe them).

Also – any man of any age can get erectile dysfunction.

We’ve seen the TV commercials for ED medication. Older men strolling with their partners across a sunset beach. These ads target men in this age group, because men are more likely to get ED over the age of 40. And it figures, because as men get older, they’re more susceptible to health problems like high blood pressure or poor circulation, that can cause difficulty getting an erection.

But ED is a young man’s problem too. As well as the physical side of it, there’s the psychological side. Lots of younger men starting new relationships can feel pressure to satisfy their partner, and this can induce ED. Men early in their professional careers can feel stressed out at times, and this can cause ED as well.

So in fact, the answer to the question ‘Who gets ED?’ is anyone (and in some way or another, at some time, probably everyone).

How do you treat erectile dysfunction?

For men with ED, medicine can help.

Viagra (Sildenafil), Cialis (Tadalafil), Staxyn (Vardenafil) and Stendra (Avanafil) all have their own unique characteristics. Some are less expensive than others, some get to work quicker and some last for longer in the body. So as well as a doctor’s opinion, personal choice comes into it too.

That said, not everyone needs treatment. ED symptoms can go away on their own, and some men may be able to improve their erections just by improving their lifestyle. Whether it’s exercising, eating and sleeping better, quitting tobacco or cutting down alcohol intake, or talking about things with a partner.

On the flip side, you may want to think about medication if you’ve tried these fixes and they haven’t worked.

How do ED meds work?

By helping circulation to the penis.

An erection happens when feelings of arousal trigger signals from the brain to blood vessels near the penis. These then widen and blood flows into the penis making it firm and erect. Other vessels then tighten to keep the blood there.

Erectile dysfunction happens when blood vessels at the base of the penis don’t widen. This stops blood being able to get in. The guy that causes this is an enzyme called PDE5, that makes vessels too restrictive.

Impotence drugs like Viagra block the effects of PDE5 on blood vessels. This helps these vessels to open up and helps men get better and longer-lasting erections.

Page reviewed by:
Dr Bruce Oran
Dr Bruce Oran
Senior Medical Adviser
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Last updated September 24, 2021

We offer [count] different erectile dysfunction treatment options.



Cialis is an erectile dysfunction tablet that can last all weekend (for up to 36 hours).

Sildenafil Citrate


Sildenafil is a tablet that helps you get and keep an erection strong enough for sex.

Sold Out Staxyn ODT
Vardenafil Hydrochloride

Staxyn ODT

Staxyn is a drug for ED which works to give you harder, firmer erections.



Stendra is a fast-acting treatment for erectile dysfunction. It gets to work in as little as 15 minutes.



Tadalafil is an erectile dysfunction drug better known as generic Cialis.

Sildenafil Citrate


Viagra is a prescription pill that helps you get and keep an erection.



What is ED?

Also known as impotence, erectile dysfunction is when a man has persistent problems getting and sustaining an erection. Sometimes, this may be difficulty getting hard enough for sex. Other times, it may be not staying hard for long enough for sex to happen.

There are several possible causes. It can be down to physical problems (being overweight, having high blood pressure), psychological problems (anxiety or depression) or a combination of the two.

In the body, ED is caused by loss of circulation to the penis, where the arteries at the base of the penis contract and don’t let blood through. An enzyme called PDE5 plays a part in this, and makes the arteries tighter.

Treatment for ED works by countering the effects of PDE5, so blood can flow into the penis, and help it to become erect during periods of sexual arousal.

How common is erectile dysfunction?

Does ED always need treatment?

Which erectile dysfunction pills are best?

Can you get side effects from ED treatment?

Can you get erectile dysfunction pills over the counter?

Is there a link between erectile dysfunction and alcohol?

What about natural remedies for erectile dysfunction?

How can I buy ED medication online?


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