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FAQ's and Resources

Here is a list of frequently asked questions. Talk to your doctor if you have further queries.

What is ED?

Erectile dysfunction, or ED, is a medical condition defined as the inability of a man to get an erection. It also refers to a man’s inability to keep an erection sufficiently long for satisfactory sexual activity. It may happen from time to time or more frequently.

What is the difference between ED and impotence?

ED is the medical term for impotence. Both terms refer to the same condition.

What is the difference between ED and impotence?

ED is the medical term for impotence. Both terms refer to the same condition.

How does a man achieve erection?

When a man is aroused, signals from the brain cause the muscles in the penis to relax and there is increased blood flow to the penis. As more blood enters, the penis expands and becomes hard. After ejaculation the penis returns to its flaccid state. See “How does an erection occur?”

How common is ED? Can young men get it?

It is one of the most common chronic medical disorders in men over the age of 40. Prevalence is higher with increasing age. In Malaysia, results from a cross-national study showed that more one million men between 40 and 45 years of age are affected by ED.1,2 However, young men can also get it.

What are the causes of ED?

Studies show that ED is often caused by other health problems. The most common causes are high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. These conditions reduce blood flow to the penis. ED can also be associated with smoking, drinking, or stress.

How does smoking and drinking lead to ED?

Smoking damages the blood vessels and this will retard blood flow to the penis. Alcohol causes dulling of the body senses and reaction-response, hence making it more difficult to get an erection.

Do ED medicines have side effects?

The most common side effects are headache, a drop in blood pressure, transient dizziness, and facial flushing (red face). Indigestion, nasal congestion and visual problems have also been reported. Always seek your doctor’s advice before starting on your course. It is important to discuss your medical history with the doctor to prevent health complications.

Do traditional or herbal medications work?

There are no records on the rate of success of traditional medications like tiger’s penis and rhinoceros’ horns. However, a large proportion of such medication are strictly regulated and forbidden as they poach on innocent and endangered animals.
Also, a number of herbal medicines, like ginseng or horny goat weed, have been advertised as sexual enhancers. But no herbal medicine has been shown to work in real scientific studies. Doctors have found that many herbal remedies are not natural. They can be contaminated. Studies have shown that these can cause skin reactions and even heart problems.

I feel uncomfortable about talking with my doctor about my sexual health. What should I do?

ED is a common health problem but also a delicate issue. However, it should not be endured silently because it is a medical condition that can be treated. Your doctor wants to know about any health issue you may have. Click here to get some conversation starters and help on how to talk to a doctor. You can also find a doctor in your area.


1. http: // Reported in Malaysian Medical Tribune. Prevalences and correlates of ED in Malaysia. 15 June 1999.
2. Low W-Y, Zulkifli SN, Wong YL et al. Sexuality in the Malaysian aging population: findings from an ED survey. Aging male 2001; 4 (Suppl. 1): 110