Q: Is ED ever just temporary?
Yes, temporary episodes of ED are common in all men and usually resolve on their own. They are often caused by stress or anxiety.3
If however, the condition hasn’t resolved itself after a few weeks, it is worth seeing a doctor because it’s likely the condition is treatable. You also need to know whether your ED is a symptom of another potentially serious condition (such as diabetes or heart disease).2
Q: I feel self-conscious about seeing a doctor. Can’t I just wait and see if things improve?
While ED usually isn’t permanent, it can seriously impact your quality of life and sometimes lead to relationship issues, poor self-esteem, anxiety and even depression.3
It’s also important to note that men with ED are at higher risk of potentially life-threatening conditions such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes.1,2
It is therefore worth seeing a doctor if the problem hasn’t resolved itself within a few weeks, because they’ll be able to discuss treatment options with you and also screen for any associated complications. You can ask to see a male doctor if that would make you more comfortable. It is also worth remembering that there are several million men in the UK suffering from ED4, so your GP will be used to seeing patients about it and should be able to make you feel at ease.
If you’d prefer a more anonymous experience, you can visit a genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinic – you will be able to find your nearest one on the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH) website (https://www.bashh.org/)
Q: I’ve booked an appointment to see a doctor about my ED, but I’m not sure what to expect – will they have to examine my penis?
Not necessarily. A physical examination may be limited to measuring your heart rate and blood pressure, and you may be required to take a blood test.3 In some cases a physical examination of your penis may be carried out to rule out anatomical causes (conditions that affect the physical structure of your penis), and in certain circumstances you may be referred to a specialist for further testing 2.
Q: Can cycling cause ED?
Cycling, in moderation, does not affect erectile function. However it is worth taking regular breaks if you’re cycling over long distances, and riding in the correct position with a properly fitted seat is also recommended.1
Q: Can tight underwear or clothing cause ED?
No. The cause may either be physical or psychological, but it won’t have anything to do with your wardrobe 4.
Q: Can ED be prevented?
Lifestyle choices can sometimes have an impact. Stopping smoking and only drinking alcohol in moderation can help. Similarly, regular aerobic exercise and losing weight may reduce the risks of atherosclerosis (narrowing of the arteries).5 However, some cases of ED are not preventable.