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- What is Impotence?
- Diagnosing Impotence
- What Causes Impotence?
- Help for Impotence
- More Information on Impotence
What is Impotence?
Impotence or erectile dysfunction is the consistent inability to achieve or maintain an erection. While it is quite normal to struggle to sustain an erection from time to time, it can become a problem when this becomes a regular occurrence. Impotence is very common and approximately 10 to 15 million American men are trying to cope with this type of sexual dysfunction.
Men who suffer from impotence may either be unable to achieve an erection at all, may have difficulty maintaining it for more than a brief period of time, or their ability to sustain an erection can be variable, being able to on certain occasions and on other occasions not all.
Impotence is largely due to a lack of blood flow ( poor circulation) to the penis that results in the inability to achieve or maintain an erection leading to poor or unachievable sexual performance. This condition is often very difficult and embarrassing for men to discuss because their sexual performance is usually considered an indication of their virility.
It can also affect personal relationships, especially those with your partner, and can lead to a loss of intimacy, conflict, anxiety, added stress and even anger.
An erection usually occurs as a result of sensory or mental sexual stimulation but it may also occur spontaneously, often at night during erotic dreams. When a man is sexually stimulated, nerve signals trigger the flow of blood from the arteries into the spongy tissue of the penis.
The blood creates pressure causing the penis to expand and become erect. When the penis muscles contract to stop the inflow of blood and open outflow channels, the erection subsides. If there is any interference with the nerve signals or blood flow responsible for activating erections, impotence may occur.
Symptoms and Signs of Impotence
The symptoms of impotence may range from mild to severe. Men with mild symptoms of impotence may achieve an erection occasionally. They may have difficulty engaging in intercourse because the erection cannot be sustained. Very often the erect penis is not long, hard or elevated enough for penetration. Some men may stop having erections during sleep or upon awakening. Others with low testosterone levels may develop enlarged breasts, raised voice pitch, shrinking testes, loss of energy and muscle mass. Men suffering from severe impotence are rarely able to achieve an erection.
The diagnosis of impotence is based on a physical examination as well as symptom history. A thorough examination of the man’s genitals may be performed to assess the function of the nerves and blood vessels that supply the genitals.
An examination of the rectum may also indicate if there is a problem with the nerve supply to the penis. Blood tests will also be able to help to determine whether certain diseases such as diabetes or infection are the cause of impotence. To check for any blockage within the arteries of the penis, an ultrasound examination may be performed.
What Causes Impotence?
There are many physical and psychological factors that may contribute to impotence.
Physical factors include disorders that decrease blood flow or narrow arteries, cause neurological damage and reduced energy levels.
Physical factors include:
- Blood clot
- Heart and vascular disease
- Kidney disease
- Spinal disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Peripheral nerve disorders
- Low levels of testosterone
- Drug abuse
- Certain prescription or recreational drugs
- Physical inactivity
- Performance anxiety
- Fear of intimacy
- Previous sexual abuse or rape
- Ambivalence about sexual orientation
Help for Impotence
There are a wide variety of treatment options available for erectile dysfunction.
Medications such as Viagra and Sildenafil increase blood flow to the penis which enhances sexual performance.
Although these drugs can help to treat the problem, they have some adverse side effects which include headache, upset stomach, flushing and vision problems and even cardiovascular problems.
More serious conditions such as low blood pressure and heart attacks may occur as a result of these side effects. Men may also choose to have drugs injected or inserted into the penis which widen the arteries that supply blood to the penis.
For men who have abnormally low testosterone levels, testosterone replacement therapy may help to correct the hormone deficiency. Less expensive treatments such as constriction (binding) and vacuum devices can also be used to achieve erections.
In more severe cases when impotence does not respond to treatments, surgery may be required. A device that simulates an erection (prosthesis) can be surgically implanted in the penis. Psychological therapy and counseling may also benefit men suffering from impotence. In cases where impotence has a physical cause, therapy can still be very helpful as it improves mental and emotional factors that contribute to impotence.
Certain types of therapy techniques such as psychotherapy can help the man suffering from depression or anxiety about sexual performance.
More Information on Impotence
Tips for coping with Impotence
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet that is rich in fresh vegetables, fruit and fish
- Exercise regularly to increase stamina, improve circulation and fitness levels
- If you are overweight, lose excess weight in a healthy, natural way
- Increase your intake of vitamin supplements such as vitamin A and D
- Manage your stress levels by listening to music, running or partaking in a detox program
- Learn as much as you can about impotence, the more you know the more you will be able to find a solution that best suits your lifestyle
- Limit your intake of alcohol and stop smoking naturally
- Avoid using recreational drugs as they contribute to impotency problems
- Communicate openly and honestly with your partner about your problem because you are going to need their support
- Together with your partner, try alternative methods to obtain sexual satisfaction and pleasure