Sexual desire disorders or decreased libido can be caused by a decrease in normal estrogen (in women) or testosterone (in both men and women) production. Other causes may be aging, fatigue, pregnancy, medications (such as the SSRIs) or psychiatric conditions, such as depression and anxiety.
Erections can change over time, sometimes stronger or weaker than other times. When men are in their teens they often have little control over their erections and obtain erections when not in a sexual situation. For most men this stops in their late teens to early twenties. As men get older, erections may not always be obtained when they want one. Almost every man has the occasional time when their erection is less strong than they would like but sometimes it becomes a problem.
Psychological issues such as depression, anxiety, guilt or fear can sometimes cause sexual problems. At one time, these factors were thought to be the major cause of erectile dysfunction. Doctors now know that physical factors are present in most men with erectile dysfunction. However, embarrassment or "performance anxiety" can make a physical problem worse. Erectile dysfunction caused only by psychological causes is found most commonly in young men.
How long your erectile dysfunction lasts depends upon what causes it and how quickly your treatment starts to work. The important thing to remember is that erectile dysfunction is treatable in all age groups.
Little is known about how to prevent erectile dysfunction. However, avoiding cigarette smoking and maintaining normal blood pressure and cholesterol levels can help because smoking and high cholesterol can affect blood vessels. Men with diabetes should strive to keep blood sugar levels under control. Because certain medications have been associated with erectile dysfunction, ask your doctor about possible side effects before you start using any new prescription.
Men who do not benefit from medical or psychological treatment often have success with mechanical or prosthetic devices. External products, known as vacuum erection devices, are safe and highly effective, but many men and their partners find them unappealing. Another option is a surgically placed penile implant. However, because implants require surgery (with the risk of surgical complications), only 10 percent of men with erectile dysfunction choose this option. Vascular (blood vessel) surgery sometimes is recommended for young, healthy men who develop impotence after trauma to the groin.