What is Erectile Dysfunction?

what is erectile dysfunction (ED)?

Erectile Dysfunction Defined

According to doctors, erectile dysfunction (ED) is the inability to achieve or maintain an erection well enough or long enough for sexual intercourse. Basically, ED has to do with a man’s erections not being satisfying enough for intercourse. However, there is a degree of subjectivity here. What is erectile dysfunction as deemed by the patient may not be the same from one man to the next.

There are degrees of erectile dysfunction. Some men have problems getting an erection in the first place, while others have difficulty maintaining one long enough for sex. In other cases, their erections aren’t strong enough to successfully penetrate during intercourse. So, doctors have developed a standardised scale to categorise how badly an individual is suffering from ED.

How Severe is Your ED?

The International Index of Erectile Function (IIEF-5) questionnaire is used as a diagnostic tool to classify the severity of an individual man’s erectile dysfunction. The IIEF-5 questionnaire rates ED in five scoring bands:

  1. 22 to 25: Normal function
  2. 17 to 21: Mild ED
  3. 12 to 16: Mild to moderate ED
  4. 8 to 11: Moderate ED
  5. 5 to 7: Severe ED

An interactive online version of the IIEF-5 questionnaire is available on this site. So, if you wish, you can anonymously and immediately gauge the seriousness of your erection problem.

In some cases expert physicians may use a more detailed questionnaire comprising of 15 questions. This is called the IIEF-15 questionnaire and covers erectile function, orgasmic function, sexual desire and intercourse satisfaction. The enhanced detail can help in tailoring ED treatments to the individual and measuring the success of erectile dysfunction treatments.

How Common is Erectile Dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a common condition. One US study, at the reknowned John Hopkins,  revealed that ED affects nearly 20 percent of men ages 20 or older. Elsewhere, it is has been estimated that over 50% of men above the age of forty suffer from erectile dysfunction. So it appears that your risk grows with age. However, younger men are certainly not immune to the condition.

The table below illustrates how often men of different age groups suffer from ED. The results are based on a study reported in the Amercian Journal of Medicine where men reported how often they could achieve and maintain an erection good enough for penetrative sex.

AgeAlways or Almost AlwaysUsuallySometimesNever
20-3985%10%4%1%
40-5965%20%12%2%
60-6929%28%27%17%
70+11%19%34%37%

“Sometimes” or “Never” qualifies as erectile dysfunction.  Totals may not equal 100 due to rounding.

What Does ED Mean for You?

Suffering from erectile dysfunction does not have to mean an end to your sex life. ED is a very treatable condition. However, although ED is the most common form of sexual complaint reported to doctors in the UK, fewer than 1 in 5 men with ED symptoms have their condition properly diagnosed and treated. There are a number of different treatment options available. Treaments just need to be tailored to each person and the underlying reasons why he is affected by ED. So, before learning how to fix your erection, you need to determine the root cause of the problem.