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What is Erectile Dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is defined as the inability to gain or maintain an erection firm enough to have sexual intercourse.

Erectile dysfunction isn’t uncommon and most men will experience ED at some point in their lives.  While ED can be a short-term condition caused by things like alcohol, stress, or tiredness, some men will experience erectile dysfunction over a longer period of time. This can be due to a physical or emotional cause.

While Erectile Dysfunction is more common in older men, it can occur at any age.

Frequent ED can be a sign of health problems that need treatment. It can also be a sign of emotional or relationship difficulties that may need to be addressed by a professional.

 If you’re regularly experiencing erectile dysfunction, please speak to a pharmacist or your GP.


NOTE: Not all men experience the symptoms of erectile dysfunction in the same way. Some men can’t get an erection at all, some men lose their erection before sex, and others can’t get an erection hard enough for sex. If you can’t get or keep an erection long enough for sex, you are experiencing erectile dysfunction. You are not alone, many Irish men – 1 in 3 Irish men have experienced ED and 1 in 5 men experience ED regularly*.


What causes erectile dysfunction?

An erection is the result of increased blood flow into your penis. Small blood vessels supply the penis, and when a man is sexually aroused, an increase in blood flow into the penis causes the penis to stiffen. Erectile dysfunction can happen if these vessels are blocked in any way. Because the vessels are so thin, blockages can occur easily.

There are many possible causes of ED. Common causes include:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension, or high blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Obesity
  • Low testosterone levels or other hormone imbalances
  • Increased age
  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Relationship problems
  • Certain prescription medications
  • Sleep disorders
  • Drug use
  • Consuming too much alcohol
  • Smoking
  • Certain health conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Damage to the pelvic area through injury or surgery


ED can be caused by any of the above factors. That’s why it’s important to talk to your GP or Pharmacist about your symptoms and they can advise on the best treatment.


How is Erectile Dysfunction Diagnosed?

Since ED symptoms can vary, some men might want to speak to a healthcare professional before they begin to treat it.  Speak to your GP or a pharmacist if you’re concerned about symptoms.

They will try and get a full and clear picture of your general health, including which medicines you’re currently taking. This is so they can recommend the right treatment for you.


Erectile Dysfunction treatment

The symptoms of erectile dysfunction can be treated in different ways. Some men, for example, find that symptoms of erectile dysfunction improve or disappear when they change their diet or start an exercise regime, and others find that drug treatments are more effective.

Oral medicines, such as Viagra Connect, come in tablet form that can easily be ingested.


Other treatments, like implants, penis pumps or injections, psychosexual counselling or further treatment from a specialist urologist are available.

The same medication won’t necessarily work for everyone. Various strengths and different medicines are available. Speak to your GP or a pharmacist for advice.

Should I discuss my erection problem with my partner?

Trying to ignore the symptoms of erectile dysfunction and resist telling your partner what’s going on is something that might seem tempting to try at first, but it risks hurting you (as it could be a sign of an underlying health issue) and your partner who may believe your erectile dysfunction symptoms mean you are not attracted to them anymore. Erectile dysfunction is a medical condition and is nobody’s fault. Telling your partner about your symptoms will help explain it to them, and they can offer you support.

Erectile dysfunction can be managed in a number of ways. It may be as ‘simple’ as stopping smoking, or you might consider other treatment options. Whichever you consider, remember that erectile dysfunction is a treatable condition and there is no need for you to suffer with symptoms alone.


If you have any questions about erectile dysfunction and how it can be treated, speak to a McCauley pharmacist today. Find your nearest McCauley pharmacy here.