When it comes to a problem with your erection, 'understanding' can be a hard word.
With any other condition, you might confide in your partner or a close friend and ask if they knew what was going on. Or you might go to your doctor as soon as you got worried. But the personal nature of an erection problem means that many men feel too embarrassed to talk to anyone about it.
And if you are too embarrassed to talk about your problem, it can be difficult to understand what's happening.
The definition of an erection problem is 'the inability to get and maintain an erection sufficient for satisfying sex'.
It is a medical condition. And like most other medical conditions, there are causes for it and treatments that could help you get over it. But unlike most other medical conditions, it can be difficult for men to face up to.
For example, if you associate the ability to have an erection with feeling complete as a man, then ED can have a negative effect on your self-image. But the more you understand the scientific reasons for what's happening – that not enough blood is flowing into or staying in your penis when you are sexually aroused – then the less embarrassing it can seem.
The condition used to be referred to as 'impotence' – but it's a term that can sometimes be used to describe sexual problems in general. Doctors prefer to refer to 'erectile dysfunction' or 'ED'. You may also hear people referring to 'penile dysfunction' or 'erection problems'.
If you have an erection problem, you may find it affects more than just your penis. You might be having trouble in your relationship. You might be unhappier than you used to be.
Research has shown that ED is associated with depression, anxiety and loss of self-esteem.
And it's not just you that can suffer the psychological effects of ED. Your partner can suffer too. They can feel rejected, unattractive and even guilty.
The psychological effects of erection problems are well understood. So if you or your partner think you are being affected in this way, it could be time to accept what's happening and take action to see what can be done to help.
If you are finding 'understanding' a hard word, it may be because you are too afraid to ask someone what's happening to you. But if you ask your partner, a friend or, better still, a doctor, you could find yourself in a stronger position to deal with your problem.
There are three main sexual complaints men can suffer from – erection problems, low libido, and ejaculation problems. In some cases they can overlap, but they are distinct.
This site is designed to help men with erection problems only. If you are worried about your libido, or suffer from premature or delayed ejaculation, then, just as with ED, we recommend you talk to your doctor. If you are too embarrassed, then our talk to the doctor section may be of use to you. But again, our advice is specifically about erection problems, so please bear that in mind.
If you can pinpoint the exact moment you have an erection problem, and you find you can still achieve an erection in some situations, it could be that it is linked to an emotional cause.
Most men will experience some kind of penile dysfunction at some point in their life. ED can be the result of stress, or anxiety, or drinking too much alcohol.
If you notice a slow but continuing change in your ability to achieve hard erections in any circumstance, it may be the result of another condition such as heart-disease, hypertension (high blood-pressure) or atherosclerosis (narrowing of the arteries). If this sounds familiar, it's doubly important you talk to your doctor – as any underlying cause will need to be treated as well as the erectile dysfunction.
Only your doctor can tell you whether or not you have ED. But you may find this online test useful in the meantime.
Some people are afraid of heights. Others are afraid of the dark. For men with erection problems, the biggest fear can be talking to the doctor.
If you have an erection problem there are tried and tested treatments available. Your doctor will say which one, if any, is right for you.