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What is Erectile Dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction is the inability to develop or maintain an erection sufficient for sexual intercourse. Read more about erectile dysfunction


1. NIH Publication No. 09-3923. June 2009.

2. NIH Consens Statement 1992 Dec 7-9;10(4):1-31.

Approximately 30 million men are affected by ED (1). ED is the inability to develop or maintain an erection sufficient for sexual intercourse. There are varying degrees of severity ranging from a total inability to have an erection to a tendency to only maintain brief erections.


Some facts about ED

  • Approximately 30 million men are affected by ED (1)
  • Most men with ED still have the ability to have an orgasm and father a child, but often have difficulty doing these things because they can’t get or keep an erection
  • Contrary to what you may have been told, ED is not normal, and you should not accept it as an inevitable consequence of aging
  • Most men are unable to get or keep an erection at some point during in their life. This is normal and does not indicate a problem. However, millions of men of all ages experience this inability as an on-going problem.
  • Nearly a quarter of all men over 65 will experience some degree of erectile dysfunction (2). Younger men often struggle with ED as well.

Your treatment options

There are many different treatments available, including pills, injections and vacuum pumps. One option is a penile implant. Because it involves surgery your doctor may recommend less invasive options first. 


Signs and causes

What causes erectile dysfunction (ED)?

What causes erectile dysfunction (ED)?

ED can have many causes but is most commonly physical in origin. ED causes

The majority of men experiencing ED can trace its origin to a physical problem or disorder. For most men, the cause can be easily identified and, with the proper treatment, a satisfying sex life can easily be resumed.

Physical causes of ED

  • An injury (for instance to the brain or spinal cord)
  • A disease (for instance diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol)
  • An operation (for instance prostate gland removal)
  • Substance use (for instance tobacco, drugs, alcohol or some medications)
Signs of erectile dysfunction

Signs of erectile dysfunction

Think you might have erectile dysfunction? Take this questionnaire and find out. Take the ED questionnaire

This questionnaire is designed to help identify whether ED is affecting your sex life. Answer the questions, then share this page with your doctor.

Over the past 6 months:

1. How do you rate your
confidence that you could get and keep an erection?

  Very low Low Moderate
High Very high
    1 2 3 4 5

2. When you had erections
with sexual stimulation, how often were your erections hard enough for penetration
(entering your partner)?

No sexual
Almost never
or never 
A few times
(much less than half the time)
Sometimes (about half the time) Most times (much more than half the time) Almost always or always
  0 1 2 3 4 5

3. During sexual intercourse,
how often were you able to maintain your erection after you
had penetrated (entered
your partner)?

Did not attempt intercourse Almost never
or never
 A few times
(much less than half the time)
Sometimes (about half the time) Most times (much more than half the time) Almost always or always
  0 1 2 3 4 5

4. During sexual intercourse,
how difficult was it to maintain
your erection to completion
of intercourse?

Did not attempt intercourse Extremely difficult Very difficult Difficult Slightly difficult Not difficult
  0 1 2 3 4 5
5. When you attempted sexual

intercourse, how often was it
satisfactory for you? 

Did not attempt intercourse  Almost never
or never
 A few times
(much less than half the time)
Sometimes (about half the time) Most times (much more than half the time) Almost always or always
  0 1 2 3 4 5

Download the questionnaire (Pdf)


Treatment options

What are my non-surgical treatment options?

Understanding your treatment options Non-surgical treatment options

ED can be successfully treated in a number of ways, but it’s highly important to discuss your options with your doctor. They will help you weigh up the pros and cons of each treatment and can advise you accordingly.


The various treatment options

  • Making lifestyle changes such as stopping smoking, losing weight and eating healthier
  • Taking oral medications such as VIAGRA®, CIALIS® or LEVITRA®
  • Injecting medication directly into the penis
  • Intraurethral suppositories (i.e., MUSE®)
  • Vacuum devices

Ask your doctor for more information about potential benefits, risks and complications of the various treatment options.


What are my surgical treatment options?

A penile implant may well be a surgical treatment option. Surgical treatment options

A penile implant is a device that is placed in your body and is designed to help you get and maintain an erection. A four-to-eight-week recovery period is typically necessary before you can use the implant. Your doctor will explain the types of implant options available and recovery process in more detail.


Talk to your doctor to discuss if a penile implant, such as Titan is the best treatment for your condition.


Partners’ corner

Dealing with erectile dysfunction can be difficult for a man. But it can also be tough for you as a partner. Keep reading for some practical advice on how to support him in everyday life Read more about Partners' corner

The first thing to say is that it’s important not to blame yourself. It’s not uncommon for partners to blame themselves and believe, mistakenly, that it’s their fault, and that maybe their partner is no longer attracted to them. In fact, more often than not, your partner’s ED will have a medical cause. Conditions such as diabetes, high cholesterol, or early-stage heart conditions can all contribute to ED. Even certain medications can play a role. The quicker you realise that this is a medical condition affecting your partner’s body, the quicker you can move forward as a couple.

Stay positive

A man with ED will often experience deep feelings of shame, loneliness, anxiety and depression. He will often say that the inability to have an erection makes him feel like less of a man. In fact, he may be afraid to kiss or cuddle you because he is embarrassed about where it might lead. Confronting him with feelings of hurt or anger may make him withdraw even further.

Open the lines of communication

Have a conversation with your partner. Make your partner aware of the health conditions that can be related to ED, and gently suggest he see his doctor. Some men may ask you to join them at their appointment, while others may prefer to have a private conversation with their physician. Let him decide.

Don’t tell him that his ED doesn’t matter

Some partners think they are being helpful by saying their partner’s ED isn’t a big deal. It matters deeply to him, and suggesting otherwise sends the message that you don’t miss intimate, sexual contact with him, which can be very hurtful.


Frequently asked questions about penile dysfunctions

Having a penile implant is a big decision. It’s natural that you’ll have a lot of questions. Here are some of the most common. FAQ for erectile dysfunction

Q. Can I have an orgasm with a penile implant?

A. You should be able to have an orgasm with a penile implant if you were able to have one before your procedure. Consult your doctor about your expected outcome.


Q. What is the recovery time?

A. Each individual is different and their recovery will be different as well. Typical recovery is between 4 and 6 weeks. Your doctor will determine what you can and cannot do during this time. It is important to follow the recommendations that your doctor gives to you to ensure the best outcome.


Q. Will I lose any length after getting a penile implant?

A. Each penile implant is custom-fitted to your anatomy. Depending on your medical history, it may not be unusual to lose 1-2 cm. Discuss this in greater detail with your doctor.


Q. Will anyone notice that I have an implant?

A. Since the implant is completely placed inside your body, no one will see the implant. 


Q. Will I be able to have spontaneous erections with a penile implant?

A. If you are still able to have erections on your own which are satisfactory for intercourse, you should consider very carefully whether or not an implant is right for you. Discuss the options with your doctor to ensure you make the right choice. 


Q. Are there risks associated with the penile implant?

A. As with any surgery, there are some risks associated with the penile implant procedure including pain, anaesthesia reactions, repeat surgery due to infections, or mechanical problems with the device. Discuss this in greater detail with your doctor.


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