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The impact of erection problems

An estimated 5 million men in the UK are affected by erection problems (EPs), also known as ‘erectile dysfunction’.1  EPs can significantly impact a man’s quality of life, his mental health and his relationship. 

What does having an erection problem mean?

An erection problem is where a man is unable to get or maintain an erection hard enough for satisfactory sex. They can happen to men at any stage of life and can be experienced in different ways, including:

  • Not being able to achieve an erection at all
  • Achieving an erection that isn’t hard enough for sex
  • Achieving an erection but not being able to sustain it long enough for sex

For some men, it’s difficult to achieve or keep an erection every time they try to have sex, and other men may find it happens occasionally. Although EPs can be complex and multifactorial, what may differentiate persistent from occasional EPs is the probable cause. 

Long-term or regular erection problems

In men suffering from long-term or regular EPs, the cause may be something psychological or physical that is interfering with the normal erectile process; either through nerve stimulation or blood flow to the penis.

Infrequent or occasional erection problems

EPs can begin as something that happens infrequently. This may be caused by undiagnosed depression, diabetes or cardiovascular disease. Anxiety can lead to EPs becoming more regular as men start worry more about their sexual performance. A loss of confidence and fear of failure creates a vicious cycle, where worsening anxiety exacerbates EP.2,3 Learn more about the possible causes of EPs.

  1. ONS 2019 UK population data & Kantar TNS 2010 - survey of 1,033 men - men reporting occasional & frequent difficulty getting/keeping an erection.
  2. Rastrelli G, Maggi M. Erectile dysfunction in fit and healthy young men: psychological or pathological? Transl Androl Urol. 2017
  3. Reed-Maldonado AB, Lue TF. A syndrome of erectile dysfunction in young men? Transl Androl Urol. 2016