Sexual & General Health

Erectile Dysfunction (or impotence)

A guy looking depressedErectile Dysfunction, or impotence as it is sometimes referred to, is the inability of obtaining an erection that is hard enough to have penetrative sex. It occurs when not enough blood flows into or stays within the penis long enough to allow for sexual activity. It is a problem which is far more common than you might think, with around 2.3 million men suffering with erection problems in the UK alone. That's almost one in ten.

Most cases relate to physical problems rather than psychological. Men of any age can be affected.



  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Kidney failure
  • Spinal injury
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Prostate surgery


  • Stress and anxiety at work or home
  • Relationship problems
  • Depression
  • Fear of not achieving an erection or performing when expected
  • Bereavement


  • Recreational drugs
  • Smoking
  • Being overweight
  • Drinking excessively
  • Side effects of medication

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms you should contact your doctor who initially will do a general health check and depending on the result will suggest an appropriate treatment. Alternatively call the Impotence Advice Helpline on 0870 774 3571 or visit

Mark Castle-Woodhams, October 2007