Impotence, clinically termed as Erectile Dysfunction (ED), is the inability to achieve or maintain an erection long enough to engage in sexual intercourse or other sexual activities.
Under normal circumstances when a man is sexually stimulated, his brain sends a message down the spinal cord that passes into the nerves of the penis. Then the ends of the nerves in the penis release some chemical messenger called Neurotransmitters, that again instruct Corpora Cavernosa (2 spongy rods of tissue similar to the length of a penis) to relax and fill with blood. As they stretch, the Corpora Cavernosa close off other veins that would drain blood from the penis. As the penis becomes filled with blood, it enlarges and stiffens, causing an erection. Problems related to blood vessels, nerves or tissues of the penis can affect an erection.
It is one of the most common sexual problems in men and most will experience this at least once during their lives but few actually talk about it. A survey reveals, up to 20 million American men frequently suffer from impotence.
The problems related to impotency may occur each time sexual activity is attempted or can vary. To site an example, you may be able to achieve an erection but fail to again, or lose it as soon as you try to have sex.
There is nothing to worry about impotence though most men feel worried and become so much preoccupied with previous erection failures that they fails to relax and enjoy sexual stimulation. Usually, men suffering from impotence can feel great mental stress that can even affect their conjugal relationships. Most of the men feel embarrassed to discuss about their impotency and even deny seeking help from a medical advisor and these make the situation even more difficult.
Impotence can happen at any age but it is found to be more common with increasing age.
What Causes Impotence?
It was preliminary believed that majority of the cases of impotence were psychological in origin but now the doctors found that physical causes may also play a crucial role at least among older men. In men over the age of 60, the leading cause is Atherosclerosis or narrowing of the arteries that can consequently restrict the flow of blood to the penis.
The causes of impotence can be divided into 2 main categories, psychological and physical or it may be a combination of the two.
A psychological cause can have a temporary effect or may stay longer. This is a more common cause of impotence in men under 35. The most common psychological factors that can cause impotence are as follows:
- Unresolved gay feelings.
- Relationship difficulties.
- Sexual boredom.
- Bereavement – the loss of a loved one is a common cause of impotence.
- Mental exhaustion and tiredness.
The cause of impotence in men over 35 years of age is generally a physical problem. The most common physical problems include:
- High blood pressure.
- A specific illness, such as diabetes or multiple sclerosis.
- Injury or major surgery to the pelvic area.
- High cholesterol.
- Age – as men get older there can be changes in circulation or the testosterone levels can also fall.
- Addiction to alcohol, also known as “Brewers Droop”.
- Drug abuse.
Side effects of medical treatment, such as drugs used to treat blood pressure.
To consider the medical point of view, it was believed that impotence was caused by anxiety. Now there are scientific evidences that support that most impotence is caused by circulatory problems ranging form clogged arteries to high blood pressure.
Recent researches reveal that the risk of impotence is as high as the heart diseases. High cholesterol levels and high blood pressure cause plaques to in the arteries that can also be found in the genitals. The researchers believe that men, diagnosed with ED, should be evaluated for cardiovascular disease. This does not indicate that every man with ED will develop heart disease, or that every man with heart disease has ED, but patients should be aware of the connection.
Diet can also cause impotence. Fatty diets that give birth to diabetes, can lead to impotence by accelerating atherosclerosis. Some drugs used to treat high blood pressure and other diet-related diseases can also restrict sexual functions.
Increased estrogen levels in men may create a corresponding drop or suppression of testosterone and androstenedione. Eating meat or dairy from animals that have been fed estrogens, which is virtually all US meat and dairy may increase the risk of impotence. Fat cells also produce estrogen.
Research reveals that passionate cyclists suffer more from ED than other athletes. The factor that matters is the shape of some bicycle seats that exert pressure on the perineum, area between the anus and scrotum. This part contains arteries and nerves essential to sexual excitement. Cyclists who ride for long hours each week may be benefited from the seats which are designed to protect the perineum.
Treatments for impotence:If the problem is found to be psychological then counseling is preferable.
Psychosexual Therapy for Impotence:
It is estimated that up to 90% of the cause of erectile dysfunction have a psychological ground. This can crop up from relationship difficulties, performance anxiety or deeper complex situations. An experienced counselor or therapist can help you to overcome the difficulties.
If the problem is physical, the treatments include:
Vacuum Pump Treatments:A vacuum pump is a plastic cylinder which is placed over the penis. Sucking out the air from the tube increases pressure to force blood flow rapidly into the penis. A ring is then placed temporarily at the neck of the penis to restrict the blood draining away too quickly and helps to sustain the erection.
Medication Treatments for Impotence;Viagra is one of the effective medications for erectile dysfunction. Viagra works within an hour and usually lasts for three to four hours.
Transurethral therapy (Muse):In this case, a small pellet of a medication is put directly into the urethra (The tube that drains urine from the bladder and out of the body through the tips of the penis). Then the drug is absorbed into the erectile tissue of the penis resulting in an erection within five to ten minutes.
Cialis:Cialis is taken 30 minutes before you get engaged in sexual activity. It is effective only with sexual stimulation and is not an aphrodisiac and does not play role in arousing sexual desire.
Levitra:It is taken 10 minutes to one hour before the sexual activity; its effect remains up to 12 hours. Levitra is again not an aphrodisiac and does not increase sexual desire.
Uprima:This medication is a pill that dissolves within about 15 minutes after placing it under the tongue. It is effective for up to two hours. Uprima will not work without sexual stimulation.
Injection Treatments for Impotence:A drug is often injected directly into the shaft of the penis when you want to have sex. Apparently it sounds a bit worrying but it is easy to learn. The medication usually works within about 15 minutes.
Hormone Treatments for Impotence:Hormonal problems are the rare cause of impotence. The most common hormone abnormality indicates reduced levels of the male sex hormone testosterone. Testosterone can be restored to a therapeutic level adapting hormone replacement therapy. Testosterone replacement therapy should only be followed if you are tested and these tests confirm a deficiency.
Penile Prosthesis Treatments for Impotence:A penile prosthesis (implant) is not required until other forms of treatment have been tried. There are two types of penile implant
The semi-rigid type penis implant:This penis implant keeps the penis rigid all the time. The penis can be bent downwards when you’re not indulged in sexual activity.
The hydraulic type penis implant:This keeps the penis stiff when a pump, implanted in the scrotum, is activated.
Surgical Treatments for Impotence:There are a number of surgical procedures to perform if there is a treatable cause of your impotence such as abnormalities in the blood flow in and out of the penis.
It is to be noted that the causes of erectile dysfunction may be organic or psychological or a combination of both. A specialist in the field of impotence is the best person to detect the actual reason of impotence and treat accordingly. First you should consult your family doctor or genitourinary specialist to have a cure.
Following some general instructions may prevent impotence in men. This hardly requires any great effort but will definitely help you to stay healthy. The tips are listed below:
- Stop smoking.
- Cut alcohol consumption
- Exercise aerobically
- Eliminate the “bad” fat in your diet, especially saturated fat present in animal products such as all meats, dairy, eggs and hydrogenated or prepared foods from supermarket.
- Keep your weight down
- Watch your medication use
- Avoid illegal drugs
- Avoid stress and anger
- Have at least one close confidant in your life.