What causes erectile dysfunction? 23 possible conditions
Impotence is the inability to hold an erection. As a man ages, testosterone decreases, causing changes in his sexuality. This includes loss of libido and impotence, which can result in the inability to gain or hold an erection. Certain medical conditions can also result in impotence. Impotence is also known as erectile dysfunction.
According to the BBC Health, around 70 percent of impotence cases have medical causes and around 30 percent have psychological causes (BBC, 2012). Psychological and medical causes combined are responsible for the majority of cases.
At some point in every man’s life, he will experience impotence. Impotence is normally caused by:
- an overconsumption of alcohol
Although this condition can affect younger men, it is more prevalent in middle-aged men. Experts believe that stress plays a major factor in age-related impotence cases.
One of the most common causes of impotence related to age is atherosclerosis. This condition is caused by damage to the small blood vessels. These blood vessels are responsible for supplying blood flow to the penis. This is why the number one sign of atherosclerosis in men is impotence.
Middle-age stress and working account for some of the psychological causes of impotence in older men. Physical causes for impotence in older men include:
- thyroid problems
- kidney issues
- blood vessel damage
- nerve damage
- high blood pressure
- pelvic trauma
- heavy smoking
The main symptom of impotence is the inability to achieve or sustain an erection. In most cases this is temporary. However, in the case of impotence, a man is unable to sustain an erection long enough to continue sexual intercourse. Psychological symptoms such as low sex drive, low self-esteem, depression, and guilt may set in. A man feeling he is not adequately pleasing his partner may worsen these symptoms.
If the impotence is caused by a medical condition, symptoms of that medical condition may be present along with the impotence. This includes symptoms of diabetes, thyroid conditions, or high blood pressure.
Discuss any medical conditions that you may have with your doctor. Sharing your medical history with a doctor can help him or her determine what is causing your impotence. Let your doctor know if you are taking medication. Include the name of the medication, how much you take, and when you began taking it. Also let him or her know if the impotence was first experienced after taking medication.
The doctor will give you a physical examination. This includes a visual inspection of the penis to make sure there are no external causes for the impotence, such as trauma or lesions from sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
The doctor will give you a blood test to check your blood glucose levels. This will let him or her know if diabetes may be to blame. Other tests that may be administered include:
- ECG (electrocardiogram)
- urine test
When the underlying cause for impotence is treated, the impotence usually subsides. Your doctor will discuss which medication is right for you. There are oral medications designed to help men achieve an erection or improve the longevity of his erection. These medications cannot be taken by people who have serious medical conditions such as heart disease, so your doctor may suggest other treatment options. These include the use of mechanical aids, such as a penis pump or a penile implant. Your doctor will explain how to use both mechanical aids.
You should consider cutting down drinking or smoking to reduce the risk of impotence and future health complications.
Stress relief methods such as meditation and therapy may be useful in treating impotence caused by stress. Make sure you get plenty of sleep and exercise to reverse stress-related impotence.
- Erectile Dysfunction/ Impotence. (n.d.). Wexner Medical Center, Ohio State University. Retrieved July 12, 2012, from http://medicalcenter.osu.edu/patientcare/healthcare_services/mens_health/erectile_dysfunction_impotence/Pages/index.aspx
- Impotence. (n.d.). Male Health Center. Retrieved July 12, 2012, from http://www.malehealthcenter.com/c_impotence.html
- Impotence: Causes and Treatments. (n.d.). NOVA Online, Public Broadcasting System. Retrieved July 12, 2012, from http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/impotence/
- What is impotence? (n.d.). BBC Health. Retrieved July 12, 2012, from http://www.bbc.co.uk/health/physical_health/sexual_health/impotence1.shtml
See a list of possible causes in order from the most common to the least.
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