Men’s health

Erectile dysfunction (“impotence”)

If you are able to achieve several yet fleeting erections, which do not last long enough to allow sexual activity, or if you never manage to achieve an erection, feel free to discuss it with a health professional – solutions do exist!

Age and erectile difficulties

Roughly half of men who are 40 to 70 years of age are affected by erectile dysfunction, and this ratio increases with age. The terms “erectile problems” or “erectile dysfunction” (formerly known as “impotence”) apply when a man experiences difficulty in achieving an erection more than 50% of the time.

Although common, this phenomenon is not considered a normal part of the aging process. Indeed, erectile issues can be appropriately treated at any age.

Approximately 50% of men older than 65, as well as some men older than 80 years generally have erections that are adequate to allow sexual intercourse and a satisfactory sex life. Ask your health professional.

What causes erectile problems?

For an erection to occur, the following must be present: adequate blood supply, slower blood drainage, a nervous system that is in good working order, adequate quantities of testosterone and sufficient sex drive. A disruption of one or several of these factors can result in erectile dysfunction.

Erectile dysfunction can be due to number of factors, both psychological and physiological. If you are systematically unable to get or keep an erection, it is crucial that you see your doctor and check whether the cause could be a serious illness such as atherosclerosis or a neurological disorder.

Physiological causes of erectile dysfunction

Most cases of erectile dysfunction having a physical origin are attributable to anomalies present in the blood vessels or nerves of the penis. Other possible causes include hormonal disruptions and structural constraints of the penis.
Risk factors include the following:

  • Smoking and drug use, notably cocaine and amphetamines
  • Blood circulation problems that limit the flow of blood to the penis, sometimes linked to excess weight
  • Diabetes, which affects peripheral nerves and blood circulation
  • The use of medicines such as those used to treat high blood pressure or prostatic hypertrophy, which can interfere with certain hormones
  • Complications following prostate surgery
  • A prolonged and painful erection (priapism) that can damage the erectile tissue of the penis and trigger erectile dysfunction
  • Other health problems, such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, a spinal cord injury and hepatic or renal disorders

How to identify the origin of erectile difficulties

For a start, doctors ask questions pertaining to symptoms and medical background. They then proceed with a clinical examination focusing mainly on genital organs, the rectum and the prostate. Blood tests may be performed, if needed, to screen for previously undiagnosed diabetes, thyroid issues or lipid disorders.

Occasionally, doctors may inject medicine into the penis to stimulate an erection in order to perform an ultrasound that will assess blood flow to the penis. In rare cases, an at-home monitoring device may be recommended, which detects and records erections during sleep.

How to treat erectile problems

There are several effective ways to treat erectile dysfunction. Firstly, a healthy lifestyle can contribute to improved erectile function. Weight loss, quitting smoking and the cessation or decrease of alcohol consumption, in cases of excessive drinking, as well as regular physical exercise can indeed aid in restoring erectile function.

Individual and couple’s psychotherapy

The origin of erectile dysfunction is not always physiological. Even erectile problems triggered by a physical issue include a psychological component. Performance anxiety, relationship problems between partners, beliefs about sexuality, trauma and other factors can impact erectile function.

Erectile dysfunction can also be linked with certain situations involving a particular place, moment or partner. Counselling by a psychologist can be an empowering lifeline in many cases. You might consider getting in touch with a qualified sex therapist who is specialized in these types of issues.

Medication for erectile dysfunction


Taken as a supplement, this hormone can aid in the restoration of erections in men whose testosterone levels are low. Gel preparations or patches may also be applied daily.

Testosterone-based inhalation products and subcutaneous implants may also be recommended. Men whose testosterone levels are very low may require injections of this hormone twice a month.

Oral phosphodiesterase inhibitors

These are the most common type of medicines because they are easy to use and allow for spontaneity in sexual relations. Phosphodiesterase inhibitors work better when taken on an empty stomach, at least one hour before sexual activity.

These medications increase blood flow to the penis. Their duration of action is variable (up to 36 hours), as are side effects as well as interactions with other medicines and food.




Prostaglandins are either injected into the side of the penis using a very thin needle, or inserted in the form of a suppository in the urethra using a straw-shaped applicator. They lead to an adequate erection in most men but can cause priapism and penile pain. During a consultation with their doctor, men who use prostaglandins are shown how to administer this medication on their own.

Mechanical devices

Although most men prefer to use medication rather than other methods, mechanical devices have the advantage of being very effective, and because they are without side effects, they are generally quite safe.

Constricting rings and erection-inducing suction devices can be used on their own or in combination with each other. These methods are sometimes merged with the use of medicines.

Surgery to treat erectile problems

For certain men, pharmacological treatment is ineffective or inappropriate. In such cases, penile prosthesis implants may be considered, consisting of rigid sticks made from silicone or devices that can be inflated and deflated.

Both options involve risks related to general anesthesia, infections and malfunction of a prosthesis. That’s why these solutions are used as a last resort.

Speak to a professional

Feel free to seek the advice or your doctor or pharmacist who can, with complete confidentiality, guide you towards the best solutions for good sexual health. Book an appointment online for a consultation.

Pharmacy services

Don’t hesitate to ask your Accès Pharma affiliated-pharmacist for advice. They will respect your privacy and be able to assist you.

To download the PDF brochure, click here.

This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice and Accès pharma affiliated pharmacist-owners cannot be held responsible for this information. The information was true and accurate at the time of publication, but it is subject to change.

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