Erectile Dysfunction

What is erectile dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction, also known as impotence, means the persistent inability to obtain or to maintain an erection adequate for satisfactory sexual performance. It simply describes the failure to get enough blood in the penis and hold it there to maintain rigidity. It carries no implication on sexual desire, orgasm or ejaculation.

Who is affected by erectile dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction is a very common medical condition with significant consequences. Research shows that over 50% of men aged between 40 to 70 have experienced some degree of erectile dysfunction, and the prevalence increases with age.

What causes erectile dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction is caused by physical or psychological factors, or a combination of the two. Common causes include cigarette smoking, alcohol and drug abuse, atherosclerosis, hypertension, diabetes mellitus, neurological disorder, pelvic surgery, pelvic and spinal cord injuries, medication and depression.

Since erectile dysfunction can be an early symptom of such underlying medical conditions, it is essential for patients to seek early diagnosis and treatment.

What are the consequences of erectile dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction has profound impact on a patient's quality of life. The inability to perform sexually makes him feel inferior or unmanly, leading to feelings of inhibition, self-condemnation, poor self-image and self-esteem. Erectile dysfunction not only means loss of sexual satisfaction, it also adversely affects interpersonal relationships. Patients are often reluctant to admit their problem and will try to cover up their condition. They will avoid sexual contact with their partners, often resulting in marriage breakdown.

How can erectile dysfunction be treated?

Treatment of erectile dysfunction has improved in recent years. A number of methods are now available, including psychological treatment, injection therapy, vacuum device, penile prosthesis and oral medication. Viagra is the most widely used oral medication.


Viagra (Sildenafil) works by reducing the breakdown of one of the chemicals in the penis that helps to relax blood vessels and enhance blood flow. Viagra is not an aphrodisiac as it does not increase sexual appetite and will not make a normal erection harder or last longer. It only restores impaired erectile function and only works with sexual stimulation. Caution in the use of Viagra, Patients with the following contra-indications should not take Viagra:

  • On nitrate therapy
  • Unstable angina
  • Severe heart disease or heart failure
  • Recent stroke or heart attack (within 6 months)
  • Retinitis pigmentosa

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