Updated: 2018, Aug 28

Signs and Symptoms of Erectile Dysfunction

By - Reviewed by CHD Team
Erectile Dysfunction Symptoms

Erectile dysfunction is a medical condition that affects the male reproductive and manifests itself in various ways:

  • Inability to get an erection.
  • Inability to get a firm enough erection for sexual intercourse.
  • Inability to sustain an erection before, during and after sex.
  • Premature ejaculation.
  • Low libido.

What is Premature Ejaculation?

Premature ejaculation is a phenomenon where men ejaculate or climax too quickly that is, below the normal ejaculation latency time which is typically five to eight minutes. Premature ejaculation is the most prevalent sexual dysfunction in men as it affects thirty to forty percent of men. Ten percent of the men in this category suffer from erectile dysfunction. Therefore, some clinical studies have shown that premature ejaculation can be a predecessor of erectile dysfunction if not a symptom.

Premature ejaculation is said to be caused by masturbating quickly at an early age. In other words, men’s sexual practices during childhood conditions their mind to climax quickly. However, this is not always the case in all patients. Issues like anxiety and a man’s overall psychological health also comes into play. There are several ways to deal with this problem:

  • Condoms with local anesthesia that were pioneered in Germany are a popular option. They desensitize the penis to some extent hence postponing sexual climax.
  • Kegel exercises that strengthen the male pelvic muscles.
  • Techniques such as the Masters-Johnson method can be used to recondition and retrain the mind hence postpone sexual climax. However, this technique does not work overnight and requires persistence.
  • Antidepressant drugs are known to delay male climax as a side effect hence they are popularly used. However, consulting a physician for the proper prescription and dosage is in order.
  • Serotonin is known to signal the brain to delay ejaculation. Therefore, selective serotonin reuptake inhibiting drugs such as fluoxetine are often prescribed by physicians.

Premature ejaculation is sometimes referred to a problem that is nonexistent or simply in a man’s mind. In this case, counseling and encouragement are recommended. Nonetheless, if a man truly wants to change his ejaculation latency time, taking the initiative to retrain and recondition his mind and body is encouraged.

How does Low Libido Come About?


Low libido is an occurrence where a man’s sex drive is exceedingly dampened. Low libido manifests itself when a man simply loses interest in sex. Low libido is a common symptom of erectile dysfunction. Low libido can be caused by two factors: hormonal and psychological. Hormonal causes occur when the male gonads decrease the production of testosterone which is responsible for a man’s sex drive. This can be due to by injury, cancer and aging. Low hormonal production can be tackled by testosterone replacement therapy as well as increasing zinc intake.

Psychological problems can lower a man’s libido significantly. Stress, depression, problems at work, problems at home, trauma and post-partum depression are common culprits. The best way to sort this out is by seeking therapy and communicating openly with your loved ones. Medication such as antidepressants may also be recommended by your physician.

Inability to Get an Erection: How it occurs and How to tackle the Problem

Inability to get an erection is by far the most distressing symptom associated with erectile dysfunction. This is because it makes sexual intercourse literally impossible. Inability to get an erection can occur if the penis is severely injured or the nerves innervating the penis are damaged to the point of not being able to function. Spinal cord injury and paralysis may also have this effect. Psychological problems and mental disorders can also cause the problem, Inability to get an erection can lead to other medical problems such as depression. Therefore, you should consult your physician immediately as it is something that can be tackled. Surgery can be performed to implant artificial rods. In addition, vacuum pumps are often recommended to draw blood into the penis hence inducing an erection.

Inability to get a Firm Enough Erection for Sexual Intercourse: How it occurs and How to Deal with it

The inability to get a firm enough erection for sexual intercourse is a common problem related to erectile dysfunction. It is a result of limited blood flow to the penis. It can be attributed to bigger medical problems such as arteriosclerosis, calcification of arteries, occlusion of arteries and heart disease. Therefore, a proper medical diagnosis is required to find any underlying issues, solve them and in turn completely eliminate the problem.

Medication that enhances blood flow into the penis is also recommended. These include vacuum pumps and injections of either papaverin or phentolamine. Topical creams can also be used. Most men who suffer from this problem are embarrassed and shy away from seeking medical attention. They often prefer over the counter solutions or simply withdraw from their partners and abandon their sex lives altogether. However, this is a symptom that can be dealt with and even be used to diagnose bigger problems like heart disease.

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Inability to Sustain an Erection: How it occurs and How to Cope

This symptom is quite embarrassing and hard to figure out. This is because, one minute a man is in the throes of passion, and the next everything goes downhill just like that. This problem is often caused by the production of phosphodiesterase. Phosphodiesterase is secreted in order to diminish and completely eliminate an erection, a process known as detumescence.

The process involves drawing blood out of the penis. Detumescence is a protective mechanism as prolonged erections can permanently damage penile cells. However, an early onset can be a problem. Therefore, the best way to tackle this problem is to see your doctor who will prescribe phosphodiesterase inhibiting medication such as Viagra.

What are some of the Psychological Problems that May be involved?

The symptoms of erectile dysfunction discussed above may manifest themselves as a result of physical problems. However, psychological problems can also be in play. Some of them include:

  • Loss of physical attraction towards one’s partner
  • Psychological trauma such as the loss of a loved one
  • Stress
  • Post-partum depression
  • Performance anxiety

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The best way to cope is to communicate openly with your loved ones or a therapist. Once the problems are sorted out, the symptoms will cease to manifest themselves. All in all, the symptoms associated with erectile dysfunction can be embarrassing. However, do not shy away from medical attention as each symptom has a unique profile and its own form of treatment.

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