Erectile dysfunction (ED) or impotence is the presence of a persistent or ongoing problem in getting or maintaining an erection for long enough to complete sexual activity. Erectile dysfunction is very common especially as men get older. American studies have shown that more than 50% of men over the age of 40 experience some degree of erectile dysfunction.
Causes of ED
The causes of impotence can be psychological (mind related) or organic (diseases of the body):
- Psychological and Psychiatric causes – Performance anxiety, relationship problems, stress, depression and schizophrenia can cause a loss of libido and affects chemicals which cause erections.
- Neurological causes – Stroke, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimers disease, Parkinson’s disease, injuries and tumours to the brain or spinal cord are neurological conditions that affect the ability of the nerves to relay messages between the brain and the penis which starts an erection.
- Metabolic causes – Hardening and thickening of the arteries (atherosclerois), hypertension (high blood pressure), thrombosis (blockage of an artery), high blood cholesterol, damage caused by smoking, diabetes and obesity to the lining of the blood vessels. Erections are a result of blood flow into the penis and anything affecting flow could therefore cause ED.
- Inflammatory causes – Inflammation of any of the following: the urethra, the prostrate, the bladder and the testes causes swelling, blockages and pain which will affect erectile function.
- Mechanical causes – Any deformity of the penis e.g. Peyronies disease or fracture of the penis
- Surgical – Certain surgeries e.g. prostate surgery or pelvic surgery (colon and bladder), spinal cord (back) can cause damage to the nerves and arteries which supply the penis therefore affecting erections.
- Drugs – Many prescription drugs can cause ED, including blood pressure drugs (antihypertensives), drugs for heart failure, drugs for depression (antidepressants), sleeping pills and pills for anxiety. Drugs can cause ED by the way in which they affect the brain and nervous system and through their effect on the blood vessels. Certain recreational drugs (cocaine, ecstasy, marijuana) as well as alcohol and smoking can affect the nervous system and may interfere with blood flow to the penis.
Preventing Impotence (ED)
Your chances of getting erectile dysfunction will be much lower if you follow the follow these guidelines:
- Stop smoking.
- Avoid excessive alcohol use.
- Do not use illegal drugs (narcotics) such as marijuana, ecstasy, cocaine etc.
- Follow a healthy diet.
- Exercise regularly.
- Have your blood and cholesterol levels checked regularly.
Treatment of Erectile Dysfunction
- Psychological and relationship counseling
- Oral medication (PDE5 inhibitors)
- Vacuum pump devices
- Injection Treatment