Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a common sexual complaint which by some estimates effects as many as one in five men. Erectile dysfunction is a clinical term, which is actually called male erectile disorder, and refers to a specific diagnosable experience, which may have several different causes. As such clinicians don't talk about symptoms of erectile dysfunction as much as factors associated with it, or experiences that would qualify as an erectile dysfunction.
According to the DSM, the manual used to diagnose sexual dysfunctions, in order to be considered erectile dysfunction (as opposed to the expected erection problems that all men encounter at some point in their lives) a person must have a "persistent or recurrent inability to attain, or to maintain until completion of the sexual activity, an adequate erection" and the difficulty must cause "marked distress or interpersonal difficulty."
Thus the two main symptoms of erectile dysfunction could be said to be:
- A problem that happens frequently and has been going on for a while (many clinicians suggest a minimum of six months)
- That the problem is causing you and/or your partner distress
If you are experiencing difficulty with erections more than occasionally it is recommended that you talk with a doctor about it. ED is a known early warning sign for other potentially serious health problems. It may be your body's way of telling you that something else is going on. Whether what you are experiencing would be classified as erectile dysfunction or not, there are health care professionals trained to help you through whatever difficulty you are experiencing, and while talking about it can feel embarrassing or risky, it's also a good way of moving toward a solution.