Erectile Dysfunction (ED)

couple on the beach

When a man can’t get an erection to have sex or can’t keep an erection long enough to finish having sex, it’s called erectile dysfunction (formerly called impotence).  Erectile dysfunction can occur at any age, but it is more common in men older than 75.

As you get older, you may need more stimulation to get an erection.  You might also need more time between erections.  But older men should still be able to get an erection and enjoy sex.

Causes of ED include:

  • Diabetes (high blood sugar)
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries)
  • Stress, anxiety or depression
  • Alcohol and tobacco use
  • Some prescription medications, such as antidepressants, pain medicine and medicine for high blood pressure
  • Fatigue
  • Brain or spinal-cord injuries
  • Hypogonadism (which leads to lower testosterone levels)
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Radiation therapy to the testicles
  • Stroke
  • Some types of prostate or bladder surgery

Problems in your relationship with your sexual partner can also cause erectile dysfunction.

Web Resources


Mayo Clinic