Erectile dysfunction, also termed impotence, refers to the inability to obtain or maintain an erection that is firm enough or lasts long enough to have satisfactory sexual intercourse. The problem affects almost all men at one time or another in their lives. It affects as many as 30 million American men, including 30% of men between the ages of 40 and 70. While erectile dysfunction often devastates those affected by it, out of fear, embarrassment, or countless other reasons, few men seek treatment. However, the problem is almost always treatable. It has definite physical and/or psychological causes. It is not a "natural" consequence of aging nor is it "all in your head." Most importantly, erectile dysfunction is not a condition you should accept or learn to live with. Most men who seek help benefit from treatment. We can help.
The Male Sexual Health Clinic at Johns Hopkins offers a full range of services, with a special expertise in the most complex cases of erectile dysfunction. Our comprehensive approach begins with expert diagnosis to determine, first, the precise cause of the problem and, then, the treatment option that best suits you. A number of therapies are available, as is sexual counseling.
A successful erection involves several parts of the body working together: the brain, blood vessels, nerves, and certain hormones. Sexual stimulation resulting from various erogenous thoughts or stimuli or local genital contact triggers the erectile process. The brain and nerves of the nervous system course in the pelvic region to the genitalia and direct chemical messages that result in penile erection.
The process importantly involves blood flow to the penis. The erectile tissue and blood vessels supplying the penis open up and allow blood entry to cause engorgement and rigidity of the penis under the control of chemical signals. Depending upon the level of stimulation, the chemical signals determine whether the penis is in its flaccid or erect state.