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Research Medical Center
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Research Brookside
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Symptoms of Erectile Dysfunction (Impotence)

Penile erection is a complex interaction of both halves of your autonomic (automatic) nervous system, your blood circulation, and your emotions. Therefore, symptoms may suggest a psychological problem, such as depression, and/or a medical problem, such as diabetes. Any one of these conditions can lead to erectile dysfunction.

Symptoms include:

  • A less firm penis
  • Fewer erections
  • Fewer spontaneous nighttime erections

Note that sensation in your penis comes from nerves other than the ones that cause erection. Those nerves may not be affected when the erectile nerves are, and those nerves are not damaged by prostate surgery. Therefore sensation is likely to be preserved. Orgasm is possible without erection. Restoring erections is sufficient to restore complete sexual function.

Revision Information

  • Erectile dysfunction. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php. Updated July 25, 2012. Accessed September 14, 2012.

  • Erectile dysfunction. National Institute of Diabetes & Digestive & Kidney Diseases website. Available at: http://kidney.niddk.nih.gov/kudiseases/pubs/ED/index.aspx. Updated March 28, 2012. Accessed September 14, 2012.

  • Erectile Dysfunction. Urology Care Foundation website. Available at: http://www.urologyhealth.org/content/moreinfo/ed-factsheet.pdf. Updated 2009. Accessed September 14, 2012.

  • Guay AT, Spark RF, et al. American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists medical guidelines for clinical practice for the evaluation and treatment of male sexual dysfunction: a couple’s problem. 2003 update. Endocr Pract. 2003;9:77-95.

  • Sivalingam S, Hashim H, et al. An overview of the diagnosis and treatment of erectile dysfunction. Drugs. 2006;66:2339-2355.

  • Webber R. Erectile dysfunction. Clinical Evidence. 2005;13:1120-1127.