Sexual dysfunction refers to a problem that can happen at any point during the sexual response cycle, from excitement and arousal to orgasm and resolution. There are different types of sexual dysfunctions that can prevent the individual or partners from experiencing sexual satisfaction.

For men, two of the most common sexual dysfunctions are erectile dysfunction (ED), where a man is unable to achieve or maintain an erection, and premature ejaculation (PE), where a man ejaculates sooner than he or his partner would like. Whether you want to last longer in bed or tackle your erection issues, we have a look at these issues, and what can be done to help.

ED and PE can often get confused with each other, but they are very different. Here’s a brief breakdown to help differentiate the two:

Erectile Dysfunction

• Achieving and maintaining an erection is difficult, or your penis may not be as hard as you’d like.

• There are no issues with ejaculating too soon.

• Treatments include prescription oral tablets such as PDE5 inhibitors

Premature Ejaculation

• There are no issues with achieving or maintaining an erection.

• Ejaculation happens faster than what is desired, typically within a few minutes.

• Treatments include prescription oral tablets such as SSRIs, wipes, and sprays.

Some men experience both ED and PE at the same time and may be prescribed a combination treatment plan to help manage both conditions.

Does age matter when it comes to ED and PE?

It is a common misconception that ED only affects older men and that PE only affects younger men with less sexual experience. Neither of these is true, as 25 per cent of men who experience ED are under 40, and there have been multiple studies that show PE is common in adult men, irrespective of age.

What should I do if I have ED or PE?

The first step in a suitable treatment plan is identifying whether there is an underlying issue that is causing the sexual dysfunction.

There is a range of physical, psychological and lifestyle factors that can cause ED, and making lifestyle changes such as losing weight, cutting back on alcohol and quitting smoking could help treat ED.

These lifestyle changes could also help with some of the physical causes of ED, such as cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol, or high blood pressure. Counselling or therapy could be a solution for any psychological causes of ED.

There are two types of PE: lifelong PE and acquired PE. Lifelong PE is due to a chemical imbalance in the brain that controls ejaculation, while acquired PE is typical due to psychological or physical factors.

In either case, it is important to address any underlying physical or psychological factors that have led to ED or PE.

The first thing to do is to talk to your GP, or use an online service that will connect you to licensed doctors online, but ensure they are thorough with your medical history and follow-ups after you have been described treatment.

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