Erectile dysfunction

Updated 03 August 2018

Symptoms of erectile dysfunction

If you are unable to achieve an erection adequate for sex, or unable to have an erection at all, you may be suffering from symptoms of erectile dysfunction.


What are the symptoms of erectile dysfunction?

- Inability to have an erection at any time, either alone or with a sexual partner

- Inability to maintain an adequate erection until completion of sexual activity

If erectile failure:

- Is only temporary or occasional, the problem is probably not serious; all men go through periods of erectile problems.

- Develops gradually and persistently, a physical cause is likely; this is generally the case with chronic erectile dysfunction.

- Develops abruptly but you still have early-morning erections and are able to have an erection while masturbating, the problem probably has a psychological cause.

Sexual interest and desire may be normal or impaired, as may be your ability to have an orgasm and to ejaculate.

In general

When erection problems become persistent, they can affect your self-image and sex life. If you have had persistent erection problems, "performance anxiety" can worsen your problem. A man who cannot have satisfactory intercourse may still have a strong sex drive, which can be frustrating.

In some cases – for example where the problem is the result of transient factors such as a major life change or relationship difficulty, erection problems may clear up spontaneously once the causes have disappeared. In other cases, particularly where there is more than one cause and the problem has become a source of great distress, spontaneous recovery is less likely.

Fortunately, many of the physical and psychological factors that cause erection problems respond to treatment. 

Read more: 

Causes of ED 

Symptoms of ED 

Treatment of ED  

Reviewed by Dr Dave Bowden MBBCh (Wits), FCS (SA) Urol. Specialist Urologist in private practice, Christiaan Barnard Memorial Hospital, Cape Town. (February 2015)


Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Ask the Expert

Erectile Dysfunction Expert

Dr Kenny du Toit is a urologist practicing in Rondebosch, Cape Town. He is also consultant at Tygerberg hospital, where he is a senior lecturer at Stellenbosch University. He is a member of the South African Urological Association, Colleges of Medicine South Africa and Société Internationale d’Urologie. Board registered with both the HPCSA (Health professions council of South Africa) and GMC (General medical council UK). He has a keen interest in oncology, kidney stones and erectile dysfunction.

Still have a question?

Get free advice from our panel of experts

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

* You must accept our condition

Forum Rules