Impotence, also known as
erectile dysfunction, is the inability to get or keep an erection. It
can happen to men at any age and is never considered a normal finding. The risk
for impotence can increase with age, but age does not cause impotence. Rather,
it’s caused by underlying problems. Certain medical conditions, medications,
trauma, and outside influences can contribute to impotence.
Symptoms of Impotence
The main symptom of impotence is the inability to achieve or
sustain an erection. This is temporary in most cases. However, impotence can
have a negative effect on sex life. This happens when a man is unable to maintain
an erection long enough to continue sexual intercourse. Psychological symptoms may
occur if a man feels he isn’t satisfying his partner. These symptoms include
low self-esteem and depression. These can cause impotence to become worse.
In some cases, an underlying medical condition, such as diabetes
or high blood pressure, may cause impotence. The symptoms of the condition may
be present along with impotence.
Causes of Impotence
All men will experience impotence at some point in their life. It
may result from a physical cause or a psychological cause. Sometimes, both
physical and psychological issues can cause impotence.
The most common causes include:
- an overconsumption of alcohol
Although impotence can affect younger men, it’s more prevalent in
middle-aged and older adult men. Researchers believe that stress plays a major role
in age-related impotence cases.
One of the most common age-related causes of impotence is atherosclerosis.
This condition is caused by a buildup of plaque in the arteries. The buildup
makes it difficult for blood to flow to the rest of the body. The lack of blood
flow to the penis can cause impotence. This is why impotence is the number one
sign of atherosclerosis in men.
Other physical causes for impotence in older adult men include:
- thyroid problems
- kidney issues
- sleep disorders
- blood vessel damage
- nerve damage
- high blood pressure
- high cholesterol
- low testosterone
- pelvic or spinal cord trauma or surgery
- tobacco use
- certain prescription medications, including
antidepressants and diuretics
Aside from physical causes, various psychological issues can
cause impotence in middle-aged and older adult men. These may include:
- relationship problems
Your doctor may be able to diagnose impotence by taking a medical
history and performing a physical examination. Make sure to discuss any medical
conditions that you may have with your doctor. Sharing your medical history
with your doctor can help them determine the cause of your impotence. It’s also
important to let your doctor know if you’re taking any medication. Tell them the
name of the medication, how much you take, and when you began taking it. Also notify
your doctor if you first experienced impotence after taking a certain medication.
During the physical examination, your doctor will visually
inspect your penis for any external causes for your impotence. External causes
can include trauma or lesions from sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
If your doctor suspects there’s an underlying cause to your
condition, they will perform various tests. For example, your doctor will order
a blood test to check your blood glucose levels. This will show them if
diabetes is to blame. Other tests may include:
- blood tests to check for low testosterone levels,
lipid levels, and other conditions
- ECG (electrocardiogram) to detect any heart
- ultrasound to look for problems with blood flow
- urine test to determine blood sugar levels
Once the underlying cause for impotence is treated, the impotence
usually subsides. If needed, your doctor will discuss which medication is right
for you. There are several oral medications that can help treat impotence. These
include sildenafil (Viagra) and tadalafil (Cialis). They’re designed to help
men achieve or maintain an erection. However, men with serious medical
conditions, such as heart disease, can’t take these medications. Men who are
taking certain medications should also avoid them.
Your doctor may suggest other treatment options if you can’t take
oral medications for impotence. These alternatives include mechanical aids,
such as a penis pump or a penile implant. Your doctor will explain how to use these
Impotence may also be a result of lifestyle choices, so you may
want to consider making changes to your lifestyle. These changes include:
- quitting smoking
- avoiding illegal drug use
- reducing alcohol consumption
- exercising at least three times per week
- maintaining a healthy weight
Aside from helping to prevent impotence, these lifestyle
adjustments can also reduce the risk of future health complications.
Stress relief methods, such as meditation and therapy, may also be
useful in treating impotence caused by stress. Make sure you get plenty of
sleep and exercise to reverse stress-related impotence.