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What Causes ED?

There are a number of causes for ED. In older men, the cause of ED is usually due to a physical problem, such as:
  • Injury
  • Side effects of drugs
  • Disease.
Any disorder that causes injury to the nerves or impairs blood flow in the penis has the potential to cause ED.
The incidence of ED increases with age. About 5 percent of 40-year-old men and between 15 percent and 25 percent of 65-year-old men experience ED. However, it is not an inevitable part of aging.

Treatment Options for ED

ED is treatable at any age, and awareness of this fact has been growing. More men have been seeking treatment and returning to normal sexual activity because of improved, successful ED treatments.
Treatment options for ED include:
  • Lifestyle changes
  • Counseling
  • Medications
  • Vacuum devices
  • Implanted devices.


ED can be a total inability to achieve erection, an inconsistent ability to do so, or a tendency to sustain only brief erections. These variations make defining it and estimating its incidence difficult.
Depending on the definition used, anywhere from 15 million to 30 million American men are affected by ED. According to the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NAMCS), for every 1,000 men in the United States, 7.7 physician office visits were made for ED in 1985. By 1999, the rate of visits for ED had nearly tripled to 22.3.
The increase happened gradually, presumably as treatments such as vacuum devices and injectable drugs became more widely available and discussing ED became more acceptable.
Perhaps the most publicized advance in ED treatment was the introduction of the oral drug sildenafil citrate (Viagra®) in March 1998. NAMCS data on new drugs show an estimated 2.6 million mentions of Viagra at physician office visits in 1999, and one-third of those mentions occurred during visits for a diagnosis other than ED.
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