Erectile dysfunction (ED) or impotence is a sexual dysfunction characterized by the inability to develop or maintain an erection of the penis for satisfactory sexual intercourse regardless of the capability of ejaculation. There are various underlying causes, such as diabetes, many of which are medically reversible.
The causes of erectile dysfunction may be physiological or psychological. Psychological impotence can often be helped by almost anything that the patient believes in; there is a very strong placebo effect.
Due to its embarrassing nature and the shame felt by sufferers, the subject was taboo for a long time, and is the subject of many urban legends. Folk remedies have long been advocated, with some being advertised widely since the 1930s. The introduction of perhaps the first pharmacologically effective remedy for impotence, sildenafil (trade name Sildenafil citrate), in the 1990s caused a wave of public attention, propelled in part by the news-worthiness of stories about it and heavy advertising.
The Latin term impotentia coeundi describes simple inability to insert the penis into the vagina. It is now mostly replaced by more precise terms.