Erectile dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction (ED), also known as impotence, is a common condition thought to affect around 50% of all men aged between 40 and 70 years.  


What is Erectile Dysfunction?

ED is when a man cannot get or keep an erection long enough to have enjoyable and satisfying sex. It can also refer to a lack of sexual desire (libido).

Now and again you may have trouble getting an erection if you are tired, stressed or have drunk too much alcohol. ED is only a problem when it continues to happen on a regular basis.


What causes Erectile Dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction may be caused by both psychological and physical factors

ED can be caused by physical factors where a narrowing of the blood vessels leading to the penis reduces blood flow to your penis. This reduction in flow may be due to an underlying health condition such as diabetes or high blood pressure. In some cases, ED may be a sign of early heart disease, so it is important to have it investigated thoroughly by your Doctor. Other physical factors that can cause ED include changes to your hormone levels, injury or surgery. Some medications also cause erectile dysfunction. If you’re worried that your medication is causing erectile dysfunction, talk to us as there might be other options that you could try. However, please don’t stop taking your medicine without discussing it with a qualified medical professional first.

Psychological issues such as stress, anxiety or depression can also affect whether you feel physically able to get and keep an erection. Relationship problems, lack of confidence, sexual issues from the past or experiences of sexual abuse can cause erectile dysfunction. Counselling can help to resolve these issues. See our section on mental health for more information on counselling.

Erectile dysfunction can also be caused by a combination of physical and psychological factors. For example, if you have diabetes and find it difficult to get an erection, you may worry about this. The stress of being unable to get an erection combined with the physical condition, diabetes, can lead to an episode of ED. 


Treatments for Erectile Dysfunction

Your treatment will depend on the underlining problem causing erectile dysfunction. 

Erectile problems are often improved by changing to a healthier lifestyle. 

Some changes that you can make yourself include:

  • Lose weight.

  • Exercise often.

  • Stop smoking.

  • Lower stress levels.

  • Don’t drink too much alcohol.

  • Don’t take drugs.

In some cases, psychosexual counselling is recommended. In more complex cases, we may recommend a referral to a specialist.

New medications have significantly improved the treatment of erectile dysfunction and we will be happy to discuss these medications with you during your appointment.

Please contact reception for more information or to book your appointment


Useful Links

Patient – Guide to erectile dysfunction


Content developed from HSE and NHS Choices, and is
adapted for Briarhill Family Practice by Briarhill Family Practice.

Paul Cotter

Bad Dog, 16 Seapoint, Barna, Galway