Glossary

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This page offers definitions and phrases of various Erectile Dysfunction related terms.
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Abdomen -  The part of the body below the ribs and above the pelvic bone that contains organs like the intestines, the liver, the kidneys, the stomach, the bladder, and the prostate.
Acquired anorgasmia -  Inability to have an orgasm due to side effects of medical therapy.
Adenoma -  A benign, noncancerous tumor in which the cells form glandular structures
Alprostadil -  prostaglandin El- for the treatment of erectile dysfunction it may come in several forms, a suppository that is placed into the urethra (MUSE) or as a liquid form for intracavernous injection (Caverject or Edex).
Androderm -  Topical form (patch) of testosterone used for testosterone replacement therapy.
Androgel -  Gel form of testosterone used for testosterone replacement therapy.
Androgens -  Hormones that are necessary for the development and function of the male sexual organs and male sexual characteristics (e.g., hair, voice change).
Anejaculation -  Inability to ejaculate.
Anesthesia -  The loss of feeling or sensation. With respect to surgery, means the loss of sensation of pain, as it is induced to allow surgery or other painful procedures to be performed. General: A state of unconsciousness, produced by anesthetic agents, with absence of pain sensation over the entire body and a greater or lesser degree of muscle relaxation. Local: Anesthesia confined to one part of the body. Spinal: Anesthesia produced by injection of a local anesthetic into the subarachnoid space around the spinal cord.
Aneurysm -  Pertaining to a penile prosthesis, an abnormal dilation of the prosthesis related to weakening of a part of the cylinder.
Angina -  Pain in the chest, with a feeling of suffocation, that occurs with decreased blood flow and oxygenation to the heart.
Anorexia -  Loss of appetite.
Anorgasmia -  Failure to experience an orgasm during sex. See also Acquired anorgasmia and Congenital anorgasmia.
Antidepressant -  Medication to relieve depression.
Arteriography -  A test for identifying and locating arterial disease in the penis, using ultrasound and injected contrast to find constricted or blocked arteries.
Artery -  A blood vessel that carries oxygenated blood from the heart to other parts of the body.
Atherosclerosis -  Hardening of the arteries, often related to smoking.
Autoinflation -  Pertaining to penile prosthesis, spontaneous inflation of the prosthesis without manual pumping.
Axial rigidity -  The rigidity as measured along the axis or length of the penis.
Benign -  A growth that is noncancerous.
Benign prostatic hyperplasia -  Noncancerous enlargement of the prostate.
Bilateral -  Both sides.
Biopsy -  The removal of small sample(s) of tissue for examination under the microscope.
Butterfly needle -  A small needle that has tubing attached to it.
Catheter -  A hollow tube that allows for fluid drainage from or injection into an area.
Caverject -  A form of injection therapy produced by Pharmacia. It contains prostaglandin E1.
Cavernosography -  A technique used to visualize areas of venous leak. Involves the injection of a cavernous smooth muscle dilator, e.g., prostaglandin E1 or trimix, then placing a butterfly needle into the corpora and instilling a contrast agent into the corpora and taking x-ray photographs to visualize the sites of venous leak.
Cavernosometry -  A somewhat inva-sive technique used to determine whether a venous leak is present.
Central nervous system -  That por-tion of the nervous system consisting of the brain and the spinal cord.
cGMP -  A neurotransmitter that causes relaxation of the arteries and smooth muscles in the penis to per-mit increased blood flow into the penis.
Cholesterol -  A fat-like substance important to certain body functions but which, in excessive amounts, contributes to unhealthy fatty deposits in the arteries that may interfere with blood flow.
Complication -  An undesirable result of a treatment, surgery, or medication.
Congenital anorgasmia -  A rare form of anorgasmia that is thought to be a product of an overly strict or repressive attitude toward sex.
Congestive heart failure -  An inability of the heart to adequately pump blood, leading to swelling and fluid in the lungs.
Corona -  The area of the penis just before the glans penis.
Corpora cavernosa -  Two cylindrical structures in the penis that are composed of the penile erectile tissue. They are located on the top of the penis (singular: corpus cavernosum).
Corpus spongiosum -  One of the three cylindrical structures in the penis. The urethra passes through the corpus spongiosum. It is not involved in erections.
Delayed ejaculation -  Taking a longer time to ejaculate, an effect of some antidepressants.
Depression -  A mental state of depressed mood characterized by feelings of sadness, despair, and discouragement.
Detumescence -  Subsidence of swelling or turgor; with respect to erections, loss of rigidity.
Diabetes mellitus -  A chronic disease associated with high levels of sugar (glucose) in the blood.
Diagnosis -  The identification of the cause or presence of a medical problem or disease.
Digital rectal examination -  The examination of the prostate by placing a gloved finger into the rectum.
Disease -  Any change from or interruption of the normal structure or function of any part or organ; system of the body that presents with characteristic symptoms and signs, and whose cause and prognosis may be known or unknown.
Doppler (duplex) ultrasound -  Use of a Doppler probe during ultrasound to look at flow through vessels.
Double-blind -  Pertaining to a study, neither patient nor physician is aware of what medication the patient is receiving.
Edex -  Alprostadil alfadex. A form of injection therapy produced by Schwarz Pharma, Inc. (Mequon, WI). It contains prostaglandin E1 and works via the same mechanism as Caverject.
Efficacy -  The power or ability to produce an effect.
Ejaculation -  The release of semen through the penis during orgasm.
Ejaculatory duct -  The structure through which the ejaculate passes into the urethra.
Ejaculatory dysfunction -  An abnormality of ejaculatory function, such as retrograde ejaculation, premature ejaculation, delayed ejaculation, and anejaculation.
Electroejaculation -  Use of an electrical stimulus to induce ejaculation.
Embolization -  The introduction of a substance into a blood vessel in order to obstruct (occlude) it.
Emission -  A discharge, the involuntary discharge of semen from the ejaculatory duct into the urethra.
Enzyme -  A chemical that is produced by living cells that causes chemical reactions to occur while not being changed itself.
Erectile dysfunction -  The inability to achieve and/or maintain an erection satisfactory for the completion of sexual performance.
Erection -  The process whereby the penis becomes rigid.
Erosion -  Destruction of a tissue surface, e.g., penile prosthesis eroding through the skin.
Experimental -  An untested or unproven treatment or approach to treatment.
External-beam radiation therapy -  A specific radiation technique that is used to treat many types of cancer. Beams of high-energy radiation pass through the skin, with the maximal energy focused on the target organ, e.g., the prostate.
FDA -  Food and Drug Administration: Agency responsible for the approval of prescription medications in the United States.
Foley catheter -  A catheter that is placed into the bladder via the urethra to drain urine.
Gender -  The category to which an individual is assigned on the basis of sex, male or female.
Genitalia -  The external sexual organs in the male the penis, testes, epididymis, and vas deferens.
Genitourinary tract -  The urinary system (kidneys, ureters and bladder, and urethra) and the genitalia (in the male, the prostate, seminal vesicles, vas deferens, and testicles).
Glans -  The tip of the penis.
Glycosylated end-products -  A chemical associated with diabetes that may contribut to erectile dysfunction by decreasing nitric oxide activity.
Glycosylated hemoglobin -  A chemical in the blood that allows monitoring of blood sugar control in individuals with diabetes mellitus. An elevated HgbAlc is indicative of poor blood sugar control.
Groin -  The area between the lower abdomen and the thigh.
Gynecomastia -  Enlargement or tenderness of the male breast(s).
Hardening of the arteries -  Common descriptive expression referring to a group of diseases (forms of arteriosclerosis) characterized by abnormal thickening and hardening (sclerosis) of arterial walls, in which the arteries lose their elasticity. If the thickening/hardening is significant, it may interfere with blood flow.
Hematoma -  A blister-like collection of blood under the skin.
High-density lipoprotein -  (HDL). Often called the "good" cholesterol. History: An oral or written interview that consists of questions about your medical, social, and sexual background.
Hypercholesterolemia -  Excess of cholesterol in the blood.
Hyperprolactinemia -  A condition of excess prolactin production. This may be related to a tumor of the pituitary gland but also may be caused by certain medications.
Hypogonadism -  A condition in which the testes are not producing adequate testosterone. This may occur because of a testicular problem or because of a lack of stimulation of the testes by the brain.
Hypotension -  Low blood pressure.
Iatrogenic -  Resulting from treatment by a physician, such as from medications, procedures, or surgery.
Impotence -  The inability to achieve and/or maintain an erection satisfactory for the completion of sexual performance.
- Synonyms: erectile dysfunction
Incidence -  The rate at which a certain event occurs, e.g., the number of new cases of a specific disease occurring during a certain period.
Indication -  The reason for doing something.
Inpatient -  A patient who is admitted to the hospital for treatment.
Insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus -  Diabetes in which the body does not produce sufficient insulin.
Interposition -  The act of placing between.
Intracavernous -  Into the corpora cavernosa.
Intracavernous pressure -  The pressure within the corpora cavernosa, as measured during cavernosography.
Intramuscular -  Pertaining to the muscles, injection into the muscle.
Intraurethral -  Placed into the urethra.
Intraurethral alprostadil -  see MUSE.
Investigational -  see experimental.
Ischemia -  Deficiency of blood flow to an area that compromises the health of the tissue.
Leukemia -  A cancer of the blood-forming organs that affects the blood cells.
LH (luteinizing hormone) -  A chemical produced by the brain that stimulates the testes to produce testosterone.
Libido -  Sexual desire, one's interest in sex.
Migration -  Spontaneous change of place.
Morbidity -  Diseased condition or state.
Mortality -  Death in a population at risk.
MUSE -  Intraurethral alprostadil, a small suppository that comes preloaded in a small applicator that is placed into the tip of the penis. The small button at the other end of the suppository is squeezed to release the suppository into the urethra. Gentle rubbing of the penis causes the suppository to dissolve, and the prostaglandin is absorbed through the urethral mucosa and passes into the corpora cavernosa to stimulate blood flow into the penis through the cAMP pathway.
Nerve -  A cordlike structure composed of a collection of nerve fibers that conveys impulses between a part of the central nervous system and some other region of the body.
Neurologic -  Pertaining to the brain or nerves.
Neurotransmitter -  A chemical released from a nerve cell that transmits an impulse to another nerve, cell, or organ.
Nitrate -  A form of nitric acid that causes dilation (opening up) of the blood vessels to the heart. Nitroglycerin is a form of nitrate.
Nitric oxide -  A chemical in the body that stimulates production of cGMP, which is necessary for erectile function.
Nitroglycerin -  A medication that is usually taken sublingually (under the tongue) for the relief of angina. It may also be applied to the chest in a paste form for the prevention of angina.
Nocturnal -  Occurring or active at night.
Nocturnal penile tumescence (NPT) study -  A specialized study that evaluates the frequency and the quality of nocturnal erections.
Non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus -  Diabetes in which the body does not respond adequately to insulin.
Noninvasive -  Not requiring any incision or insertion of an instrument or substance into the body.
Occlusion -  Blockage of flow.
Oral -  Taken by mouth.
Orchiectomy -  Removal of the testicle(s).
Organ -  Tissues in the body that work together to perform a specific function (e.g., heart, bladder, penis).
Orgasm -  Sexual climax, the culmination of sexual excitement.
Orgasmic dysfunction -  Alterations in orgasmic function or inability to achieve an orgasm.
Orthostatic hypotension -  The acute lowering of blood pressure when one goes from a sitting or lying position to an upright position (standing). Also called postural hypotension.
Palpation -  Feeling with the hand or fingers, by applying light pressure.
Parenteral -  Administered not by mouth but rather by injection by some other route, e.g., intramuscular, subcutaneous.
Pelvis -  The part of the body that is framed by the hip bones.
Penile arterial bypass surgery -  A surgical procedure that provides an alternate pathway to bring blood flow into the penis that does not rely on the obstructed artery.
Penile prosthesis -  A device that is surgically placed into the penis that allows a man with erectile dysfunction to have an erection.
Penis -  The male organ that is used for urination and intercourse.
Perineum -  The area under the scrotum.
Peyronie's disease -  A benign (noncancerous) condition of the penis that tends to affect middle-aged men. It is characterized by the formation of plaques in the tunica albuginea of the penis and may cause erectile dysfunction.
Phosphodiesterase type 5 -  Phosphodiesterase type 5 is an enzyme that is responsible for the breakdown of cGMP. Inhibition of phosphodiesterase type 5 leads to a build-up of cGMP.
Phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitor -  A chemical that prevents the function of phosphodiesterase type 5. The use of a phosphodiesterase inhibitor leads to an increase in cGMP.
Pituitary adenoma -  A benign tumor of the pituitary gland. An adenoma of the anterior pituitary may produce excessive amounts of prolactin.
Pituitary gland -  A gland in the brain that is composed of two parts (lobes), the anterior and the posterior. The anterior pituitary gland produces a variety of hormones including luteinizing hormone (LH) and prolactin.
Placebo -  A fake medication ("candy pill") or treatment that has no effect on the body that is often used in experimental studies to determine whether the experimental medication/treatment has an effect.
Polycythemia -  An increase in the total red blood cell mass in the blood.
Premature ejaculation -  There is no agreement of the definition of quick ejaculation. The 4th edition of the American Psychiatric Associations Diagnostic and Statistical Manual outlines three criteria for premature ejaculation: (1) persistent or repeated ejaculation with slight stimulation before, on, or shortly after penetration and before the person wishes it, (2) the disturbance causes considerable anguish or interpersonal difficulty, and (3) the premature ejaculation is not due exclusively to the direct effects of a chemical.
Prevalence -  The frequency with which a disease or condition occurs in a population.
Priapism -  The persistence of an erection, unassociated with sexual pleasure, that lasts for 6 or more hours. If untreated, it can lead to penile ischemia and subsequent erectile dysfunction.
Prolactin -  One of the hormones produced by the pituitary gland. In males, elevated prolactin levels can lower testosterone levels, decrease libido, and affect erectile function.
Prolonged erection -  An erection that lasts longer than 4 hours but less than 6 hours. May be associated with the use of pharmacologic therapy for erectile dysfunction.
Prostaglandin E1 -  A specific type of prostaglandin that causes an increase in cAMP, which causes smooth muscle relaxation.
Prostate -  A gland that surrounds the urethra and is located just under the bladder. It produces fluid that is part of the ejaculate (semen). This fluid provides some nutrient to the sperm.
Prosthesis -  An artificial device used to replace the lost normal function of a structure or organ in the body.
Psychogenic -  Stemming from the mind or psyche.
Quality of life -  An evaluation of healthy status relative to the patient's age, expectations, and physical and mental capabilities.
Radial rigidity -  Rigidity across the width or radius of the penis.
Radiation therapy -  Administration of radiation to treat a disease.
Radical prostatectomy -  A surgical procedure for prostate cancer in which the entire prostate and seminal vesicles, and part of the vas deferens, are removed.
Randomized -  The process of assigning patients to different forms of treatment in a research study in a random manner.
Red blood cells -  The cells in the blood that carry oxygen to the tissues.
REM (rapid eye movement) -  A phase in the sleep cycle. Nocturnal erections occur during this phase of sleep.
Resistance -  Opposition to blood flow out of the penis.
Retrograde ejaculation -  A condition whereby the ejaculate passes backward into the bladder instead of forward out the tip of the penis; frequently occurs after TURP.
Retroperitoneal lymph node dissection -  A procedure to remove lymph nodes adjacent to the site of testicular or prostate cancer.
Salvage -  A procedure intended to "rescue" a patient after a failed prior therapy.
Scrotum -  The pouch of skin that contains the testicles.
Selective serotoni reuptake inhibitors -  See SSRI.
Semen -  The thick whitish fluid, produced by glands of the male reproductive system, that carries the sperm (reproductive cells) through the penis during ejaculation.
Sex hormones -  Substances (estrogens and androgens) responsible for secondary sex characteristics (hair growth and voice change in males).
Sexual dysfunction -  An abnormality in function of any component of the sexual response cycle.
Sexual response cycle -  The cycle of interest, arousal, climax, ejaculation, and detumescence.
Sickle cell disease/sickle cell trait -  A condition that affects African-Americans. The red blood cells take on an abnormal shape (sickle) in response to decreased oxygenation, dehydration, and acidosis. This abnormal shape makes it difficult for the red blood cells to pass through the blood vessels and leads to blockages of the vessels, causing pain and ischemia to tissues. In the penis, it may lead to priapism.
Side effect -  A reaction to a medication or treatment.
Sildenafil (Viagra) -  The first effective, FDA-approved oral therapy for erectile dysfunction. Sildenafil is a phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitor.
Sinusoid -  A blood-filled cavernous space. In the penis, these spaces are separated by a network of connective tissues containing muscle cells, small arteries, veins, and nerves.
Somnolence -  Sleepiness, unnatural drowsiness
SSRI -  Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor. Used for depression and also for premature ejaculation. Commonly used SSRIs include sertraline, paroxetine, fluoxetine.
Subjective -  Pertaining to or perceived by the affected individuals, not perceptible to the other senses of another person.
Supraphysiologic -  Higher than the normal function state or level in the body.
Symptom -  Subjective evidence of a disease, i.e., something the patient describes, such as pain in abdomen.
Syncope -  A temporary loss of consciousness.
Tachyphylaxis -  Decreased response of a patient to a drug that was previously effective.
Testis -  One of two male reproductive organs that are located within the scrotum and produce testosterone and sperm.
Testoderm -  Topical (patch) form of testosterone for testosterone replacement therapy. Testosterone
Testosterone -  The male hormone; it is responsible for secondary sex characteristics, such as hair growth and voice change. It is also the key hormone involved in sexual desire (libido).
Tissue -  Specific type of material in the body, e.g., muscle, hair.
Transdermal -  Entering through the skin, as in administration of a drug applied to the skin in an ointment, gel, or patch form.
Transrectal -  Through the rectum.
Transrectal ultrasound -  Visualization of the prostate by the use of an ultrasound probe placed into the rectum.
Transurethral prostatectomy (TURP) -  A surgical technique performed under anesthesia using a specialized instrument that allows the surgeon to remove the prostatic tissue that is bulging into the urethra and blocking the flow of urine through the urethra. After a TURP, a rim of prostatic tissue remains.
Trazodone -  A psychiatric medication that has been reported to cause priapism. Studies using trazodone for the treatment of erectile dysfunction are conflicting. Currently, trazodone is not believed to be a reliable therapy for the treatment of erectile dysfunction.
Tumescence -  Condition of being tumid or swollen; with respect to erections, penile rigidity.
Tunica albuginea -  Dense, fibrous, elastic sheath enclosing the corpora cavernosa in the penis. Compression of small veins against the tunica albuginea during erection holds back outflow of blood from the corpora, causing the penis to be rigid.
Ultrasound -  A technique used to look at internal organs by measuring reflected sound waves.
Urethra -  The tube that one urinates through.
Urologist -  A doctor that specializes in the evaluation and treatment of diseases of the genitourinary tract in men and women.
Vacuum device -  A device that is used to provide an erection. It is composed of 3 parts: a cylinder, a pump, and a constricting band. The band is preloaded on the bottom of the cylinder, and the cylinder is placed over the penis. The pump, which is connected to the cylinder, creates a suction that pulls blood into the penis. Because the constricting band is placed at the base of the penis, the blood remains in the penis until the band is removed.
Vas deferens -  The duct that sperm travel through from the testis to the urethra.
Vascular -  Pertaining to blood vessels.
Vasoactive -  Affecting the size (diameter) of blood vessels.
Vasospasm -  Constriction of the arteries.
Vasovagal attack -  A transient vascular and neurogenic reaction marked by pallor (white, ghost-like look), sweating, slow heart rate, and lowering of the blood pressure
Vein -  A blood vessel in the body that carries deoxygenated blood from the tissues back to the heart.
Venous leak -  Veins that don't compress to prevent blood from draining out of the corpora during erection. Venous leak may also refer to the rare occasions in which abnormally located veins allow for persistent drainage of blood during an erection.
Venous ligation surgery -  A surgical procedure in which leaky veins in the penis are ligated to prevent blood from continually flowing out of the penis during erection.
Viagra -  The first effective, FDA-approved oral therapy for erectile dysfunction. Sildenafil is a phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitor.
- Synonyms: sildenafil
X-ray -  A type of high-energy radiation that can be used at low levels to make images of the internal structure of the body and can be used at high levels for radiation therapy.
Yohimbine -  An oral medication that acts primarily in the brain. It was reported to improve erectile function; however, study results are conflicting, and it is not recommended as a firstline therapy for erectile dysfunction.