Erectile Dysfunction- Is It Normal?

· 4 min read
Erectile Dysfunction- Is It Normal?

Erectile Dysfunction (ED) is defined as the incapacity of a man to get and maintain an erection with sufficient rigidity in order to perform satisfactory sexual activity. It can be due to organic or emotional causes, and is not a reason for concern if you face issues getting an erection occasionally. However, frequent ED may be due to some other underlying health issue.

52% of men suffer from some kind of ED


Erectile dysfunction can have an effect on your performance in bed. The Massachusetts Male Aging Study suggests that 52% of men suffer from some kind of ED. This study was completed in 1992 but is still cited by several experts when it comes to the prevalence of erectile dysfunction.

The probability of ED increases as you age, and many studies show that 10% of men, aged between 40 to 70, face acute ED, while 25% experience occasional ED. Even though it is less common in younger men, some studies show that it affects 5-10% of men below the age of 40. According to some other research, 8% of men aged 20-29 and 11% aged 30-39 have ED. A Journal of Sexual Medicine study shows that one out of four men diagnosed with erectile dysfunction is young.

A 2018 review found out that one-third of men have erectile dysfunction. The global prevalence of ED is linked with age. All this data also highlights that the number of men being diagnosed with ED is increasing.  

What is Normal?

If you are not able to get and sustain an erection from time to time, it is normal and does not require any medical intervention. If you are unable to get an erection in less than 20% of your sexual encounters, it does not qualify as ED.

However, if you have difficulty in getting an erection more than 50% of the time, it means something is wrong, and you should visit your doctor. You can also seek medical attention in case you are not satisfied with the quality of your erection.


Sexual arousal in men is a complicated activity that includes the brain, muscles, emotions, hormones, and blood vessels. Organic and emotional issues usually lead to ED. Let’s take a look at them.

Organic Causes-

  • Inadequate blood flow to the penis

Health issues, such as diabetes, heart diseases, and hardened arteries can restrict the blood flow to the penis, making it difficult for you to get an erection.

  • Alcoholism

Excessive alcohol can affect your performance in bed. Drugs, such as amphetamines, marijuana, and cocaine, can also result in ED.

  • Pelvic area and spinal cord injury or surgery

Such injuries or surgeries can block nerve signals from your brain or spinal cord, and they won’t be able to reach your penis.  

  • Cancer treatments

Radiation treatment for prostate cancer, colon-rectal cancer, and bladder cancer can result in you getting ED. It’s best to consult a Urologist for the same.

  • Medications

Certain medications, such as antidepressants, antihistamines, and painkillers, can also lead to ED.

Emotional Causes-

The brain plays an essential role in male sexual arousal. Dealing with some emotional problems can also affect your sexual capability.

  • Stress
  • Depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues
  • Relationship problems
  • Worrying about your sexual performance
  • Mental trauma

Risk factors

Listed below are the major factors contributing to erectile dysfunction:

  • Age

This is one of the main risk factors of ED. It might take you more time to develop an erection as you get older, and it might not be as firm.

  • Diabetes

Struggling with diabetes can affect your vascular system, cause nerve damage, and result in circulation problems. All these situations increase the risk of you developing ED.

  • Tobacco use

Tobacco can limit the flow of blood reaching your veins and arteries. This can lead to long-term chronic illnesses, in turn resulting in ED.

  • Obesity

If you are overweight, you have a higher chance of getting erectile dysfunction.

  • Medical treatments

If you have undergone certain medical treatments for prostate cancer and enlarged prostate, or radiation treatment for cancer, you are at a higher risk of getting ED.

  • Medications

Taking medications like diuretics, antihypertensives, tranquilizers, and drugs to treat prostate conditions can significantly increase the risk of you developing erectile dysfunction.

  • Psychological issues

Certain mental health ailments like depression and anxiety can also contribute to erectile dysfunction.  


While occasional trouble in getting an erection is normal, it is a cause for concern if it starts happening more frequently. In this case, visit your doctor at the earliest. Although ED is not a deadly disorder, it can indicate a more serious, underlying health condition.