Talking in terms of the symptoms of erectile dysfunction can be somewhat misleading, since ED itself is really a symptom. In medical terminology, the definition of a symptom is any condition which indicates the presence of something else. It is an effect of some cause. However, in the case of male impotence, the symptom is itself the 'something else'.
To add to the confusion, ED is also an indication of an underlying condition, usually physiological if the inability to attain or sustain an erection is long-lived or chronic. It may be the result of neurological issues, hormone deficiencies or caused by a disease such as diabetes. It may also be the result of some serious psychological issue, such as depression or chronic anxiety.
As the population ages, thanks to improved medical care, better housing and food, along with social changes, individuals are enjoying sex more into later ages. That results in the perception that erectile dysfunction, which can occur at any age post puberty but affects men more as they approach and pass 65, is a bona fide medical condition. That perception has a real basis.
Sex is a fulfilling function in human life but when it cannot occur because of impotence, the psychological results can be tragic. Erectile dysfunction or male impotence, as described above, can also be an indicator of some underlying condition or disease. As such, finding and analyzing symptoms that cause ED, then treating it, is often part of a larger strategy for treating the underlying cause.
Since partial or negligible erections on an ongoing basis can be a symptom of some underlying condition, there will be other symptoms that accompany it. High blood pressure is one example with excess blood glucose and continual thirst adding to the list. Those are all classic signs of diabetes, which is one of the most common diseases causing erectile dysfunction.
Accompanying symptoms may be psychological in nature, as well. Depression is a common factor in chronic impotence. But determining which is cause and which effect can be difficult, since the relationship is reciprocal. Depression can cause erectile dysfunction, which in turn may lead to a deepening of the depression. Which one causes side effects to the other can be difficult to determine - a sort of catch 22 situation.
When there is no underlying relevant physiological factor, it may be simple performance anxiety. Men in certain circumstances, particularly if they have been widowed or divorced late in life, may not have had a sexual partner for months or years. Suddenly becoming sexually active again can cause doubt about the ability to become erect. That anxiety may then lead to actual impotence. The failure to achieve erection tends to reinforce the belief that one can't in fact perform, causing further anxiety. Consequently, another vicious cycle is established.
Whether erectile dysfunction occurs without obvious accompanying symptoms, or is part of a cluster of effects, the best course of action is to be diagnosed by a professional. He or she can then recommend the appropriate treatments. That may be prescription drugs, such as Viagra or Cialis, or it may be a matter of treating some underlying disease. But in any case, the options today are numerous and generally effective.