According to Mayo Clinic, erectile dysfunction — also known as impotence — is “the inability to get and keep an erection firm enough for sex.” Having this issue every once in a while may not be a huge cause for concern, but if this becomes a regular issue, then you should speak to a health care professional. Erectile dysfunction, even on an irregular basis, can be a large cause of stress, which can in turn affect your self-confidence and lead to problems in your relationship. Besides these personal issues, the symptoms of erectile dysfunction could be caused by an underlying health condition. Treatment of the underlying health condition could be enough to rid you of your erectile dysfunction.

If you have erectile dysfunction, then you may be at risk for prostate cancer. If your erectile dysfunction has developed rapidly, and not just over time with age, then your erectile dysfunction could be associated with prostate cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, prostate cancer does not usually cause symptoms in its early stages. In addition to erectile dysfunction, further signs of advanced prostate cancer can include symptoms such as problems urinating; blood in the urine or semen; pain in the hips, back, or chest; weakness or numbness in the legs or feet; or even loss of bladder or bowel control. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, in addition to your erectile dysfunction, then you should seek help from a health professional immediately.

Erectile dysfunction can be a complex disorder, stemming from both psychological and physical issues. This is because male sexual arousal itself is a “complex process that involves the brain, hormones, emotions, nerves, muscles and blood vessels.” Physical causes of erectile dysfunction can include heart disease, high cholesterol, diabetes, alcoholism, sleep disorders, or even treatments for prostate cancer or an enlarged prostate. Psychological causes of erectile dysfunction can include stress, anxiety, depression, or other mental health conditions.

Even though erectile dysfunction is a topic often associated with shame or embarrassment, it is important to not ignore the signs and symptoms or not talk about it. Instead talk with a doctor you trust about it, and be open about any symptoms you have. It may seem easier to deal with this issue on your own with self-treatment of over-the-counter erectile dysfunction medication, but don’t forego specialist treatment because of fear or anxiety.