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Temporary Erectile Dysfunction: All You Need to Know

7 min read
Temporary Erectile Dysfunction: All You Need to Know

The ability to maintain a stable erection is something that many men take for granted. For some, the ability to sustain a good quality erection during sexual activity can elude them. When this happens, it can feel frustrating and embarrassing. If it becomes a frequent occurrence, it could be due to erectile issues.

One of the most common erection problems is erectile dysfunction (ED). ED is a condition that leads to individuals being unable to maintain an erection for long enough to enjoy sex. Erectile dysfunction is strongly linked to age and may affect as many as 52% of men aged between 40 and 70.

    Temporary erectile dysfunction describes when the symptoms of ED come and go, or present themselves in specific situations. This article explores how to identify temporary ED and what can be done to treat it.


    Chart from our article on: Penis Pump: What are They and How to Use Them

    TL;DR Summary:

    • Short-term erectile dysfunction (ED) refers to temporary difficulty maintaining an erection during sex, which can be situational or temporary.
    • Situational ED is often caused by psychological factors like performance anxiety, while temporary ED can result from lifestyle habits or health conditions.
    • Diagnosis methods include tests and questionnaires.
    • Treatment for situational ED may involve therapy or medication, while lifestyle changes can help with temporary ED.
    • Consult a doctor for personalized diagnosis and treatment.
    • This summary does not replace professional medical advice.

    About the different types of short-term ED

    Short-term erectile dysfunction refers to any form of ED that is temporary in nature. However, there are two primary forms of short-term erectile dysfunction: situational ED and temporary ED.

    Situational ED

    Situational erectile dysfunction describes when an individual is unable to maintain an erection in specific situations. For example, a person may find they achieve stable erections when masturbating but lack the ability to do the same in front of a sexual partner.

    Situational erectile dysfunction describes when an individual is unable to maintain an erection in specific situations.

    Such situations may be caused by psychological factors such as performance anxiety. Individuals with pre-existing anxiety conditions are said to be more susceptible to sex-related anxiety.

    Temporary ED

    Temporary ED refers to erectile dysfunction during which the symptoms may come and go. This could be due to the result of an individual’s lifestyle habits, physical factors, or health.

    Temporary ED refers to erectile dysfunction during which the symptoms may come and go

    Examples could include when a person smokes, consumes alcohol, or goes through a highly stressful period in their life. An example of a physical health condition that may result in temporary ED is prostate cancer.

    Examples of Situational VS Temporary ED

    Research into the prevalence of young men with ED identified some common characteristics that individuals with ED share. Although it’s not an exhaustive list, we’ve listed some of the characteristics in the table below and explained how each characteristic might contribute to short-term ED.

    Performance anxiety Situational ED Feeling nervous over your sexual performance may lead to situational ED occurring.
      High-stress job Temporary ED Occupational stress has been linked to ED.

      Individuals experiencing stress from a job may experience temporary ED during such periods.
        Relationship concerns Situational or temporary ED If an individual has relationship concerns, it may lead to isolated situations of ED or temporary ED for as long as the concerns last.
          Lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) Temporary ED The potential link between lower urinary tract symptoms and erectile dysfunction may lead to ED symptoms until LUTS is addressed.

            How is short-term ED diagnosed? Main Symptoms

            The obvious symptom of both types of short-term ED is that you’re unable to maintain an erection. However, the main difference between the two types is the circumstance in which the symptom arises.

            Situational ED

            The main symptom of situational ED is that you notice it occurring in specific situations. For example, you might notice that you struggle to maintain an erection when you have sex with a certain partner or in a set location. If this is the case, yet in other situations your erectile function is normal it may indicate that you have situational ED.

            The main symptom of situational ED is that you notice it occurring in specific situations

            A case report notes that anxiety regarding sexual performance and partner rejection may lead to sexual avoidance patterns. If you find yourself avoiding sexual activity due to sexual performance anxiety, this may be an indication that your erectile dysfunction is situational.

            Temporary ED

            An indication of temporary erectile dysfunction is that you notice ED symptoms after a significant lifestyle change. Examples may include alcohol/drug consumption or the occurrence of a health condition.

            An indication of temporary erectile dysfunction is that you notice ED symptoms after a significant lifestyle change.

            For example, if you are unable to maintain an erection after excessive alcohol consumption, but find that when the effects wear off your erectile function returns, it may indicate temporary ED. One study found that 88.5% of 104 subjects with alcohol use disorder showed improvements in ED after 3 months of alcohol abstinence.

            Diagnosing short-term ED

            Identifying and diagnosing erectile dysfunction is one of the first steps toward being able to treat the condition. A doctor should be consulted to provide professional guidance. A number of different tests are used for diagnosing ED, which may include but is not limited to:


            Nocturnal Penile Tumescence (NPT) testing

            Men typically experience a number of erections while they sleep. This type of test measures whether night time erections occur.

            It does so by placing a device around the penis to monitor an individual's erectile function while they sleep.

              Urine/Blood Testing

              Urine and blood tests involve providing a sample and sending them away to be analyzed.

              Although these aren’t typically indicative of erectile dysfunction, they may detect contributing factors to ED such as testosterone deficiencies or lower urinary tract symptoms

                Mental Health Assessments

                A review of the psychosocial aspects of ED highlights the importance of a multidisciplinary approach (combining medical treatment with a psychological approach) for the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of ED.

                Individuals presenting with psychological ED symptoms may require a mental health assessment. 

                  IIEF Questionnaire

                  The International Index of Erectile Function questionnaire is considered a self-reported way to measure a person’s erectile function.

                  A person answers questions regarding their recent sexual experiences, with their answers contributing to a score that rates their erectile function. 

                    Main treatments of short-term ED

                    Now that you understand how short-term ED can be diagnosed you might be wondering how it’s treated. We’ve explored some short-term ED treatment options below.

                    Treatment for situational ED

                    Given that situational ED can be the result of a psychological issue, addressing the issue may help. Consulting a medical professional for advice may lead to therapy or medication to treat mental health conditions such as depression or anxiety.

                    Examples of successful therapies which have been used to address situational erectile dysfunction include mindfulness-based group therapy, which aimed to address the psychosocial and psychosexual aspects of the dysfunction.

                    Given that situational ED can be the result of a psychological issue, addressing the issue may help

                    A literature review explored sexual performance anxiety and noted a lack of proven treatments. It did conclude that Phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors (examples of which include Viagra and Cialis) are effective for treating psychogenic ED. The use of such drugs should only be considered under medical supervision.

                    Treatment for temporary ED

                    Treating temporary ED may involve refraining from the lifestyle habits which cause the condition (for example smoking or alcohol consumption). Research concluded that stopping smoking can improve erectile function in a considerable amount of smokers.

                    Alternatively, if the cause of temporary ED is due to a physical characteristic (such as obesity taking steps to make physical changes may help. For example, research found that a third of obese individuals with ED were able to regain sexual function through weight loss alone.

                    Temporary ED may develop as a consequence of surgery for conditions such as prostate cancer.

                    It’s thought that 60-85% of men who have nerve-sparing radical prostatectomy surgery to address prostate cancer recover erectile function.

                    When should you see a doctor?

                    ED should never be treated or diagnosed without professional medical supervision. You should see a doctor as soon as you have suspicions that the condition is present. A medical professional will be able to analyze your erectile function using a number of testing methods. Once a diagnosis has been made they will be able to advise the best course of action based on your medical history.

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                    Can erectile dysfunction come and go?

                    The symptoms of ED may be constant, yet the symptoms of short-term ED may come and go. For example, symptoms of temporary ED may start when an individual consumes excessive amounts of alcohol and stop when they refrain from drinking it.

                    How long does temporary ED last?

                    Temporary ED may last as long as the cause is present. For example, individuals experiencing temporary ED due to a lifestyle habit, such as smoking or drinking alcohol could experience ED symptoms for as long as the habit continues.

                    Why do I suddenly have erectile dysfunction?

                    Sudden erectile dysfunction may be a result of psychological factors such as stress and anxiety or physical factors such as health conditions. Sudden erectile dysfunction may be a symptom of prostate cancer. If you have suddenly developed ED you should consult a medical professional for advice.


                    There are two types of short-term erectile dysfunction known as situational ED and temporary ED. The difference between the two is mainly that situational ED occurs in specific situations, while temporary ED may be caused by an individual's behavior such as smoking, or a physical trait like obesity.

                    Consulting a medical professional should always be the first step a person takes when aiming to treat the condition.

                    There are a number of treatment options available which include addressing mental and physical health issues as well as making lifestyle changes. Although it’s intended to be informative, this article cannot be considered a substitute for professional medical advice.

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