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All about impotence (erectile dysfunction) mechanism of erection causes of erectile dysfunction physical causes of impotence psychological causes of impotence impotence or erectile dysfunction treatment non-prescription remedy for impotence MUSE (Medicated Urethral Suppository for Erection) Viagra (sildenafil citrate) Levitra (vardenafil) Cialis (tadalafil) penile injection therapy for erectile dysfunction penile implants for impotence hormonal therapy for impotence

What causes erectile dysfunction (impotence)?

Impotence (erectile dysfunction) is not a disease, but a secondary condition brought on by other, primary causes. It is a side effect, a symptom of something else. Thirty years ago, when men went to their doctors asking for help for erectile problems, they were told that there was no treatment because it was caused by aging, or it was all in their heads (psychological). A generation of research has been conducted in the intervening years.

Since an erection requires a sequence of events, impotence can occur when any of the events is disrupted. The sequence includes nerve impulses in the brain, spinal column, and area of the penis, and response in muscles, fibrous tissues, veins, and arteries in and near the corpora cavernosa.


Damage to arteries, smooth muscles, and fibrous tissues, often as a result of disease, is the most common cause of erectile dysfunction. Diseases--including diabetes, kidney disease, chronic alcoholism, multiple sclerosis, atherosclerosis, and vascular disease--account for about 70 percent of cases of impotence. Between 35 and 50 percent of men with diabetes experience impotence.

Surgery (for example, prostate surgery) can injure nerves and arteries near the penis, causing impotence. Injury to the penis, spinal cord, prostate, bladder, and pelvis can lead to impotence by harming nerves, smooth muscles, arteries, and fibrous tissues of the corpora cavernosa. Also, many common medicines produce impotence as a side effect. These include high blood pressure drugs, antihistamines, antidepressants, tranquilizers, appetite suppressants, and cimetidine (an ulcer drug). Experts believe that psychological factors cause 10 to 20 percent of cases of impotence. These factors include stress, anxiety, guilt, depression, low self-esteem, and fear of sexual failure. Such factors are broadly associated with more than 80 percent of cases of impotence, usually as secondary reactions to underlying physical causes.

Other possible causes of impotence (erectile dysfunction) are smoking, which affects blood flow in veins and arteries, and hormonal abnormalities, such as insufficient testosterone.

The four main causes of impotence include:

  • Physical illness - there are many diseases that interfere with functioning of the penis by either reducing blood flow or affecting the nerves. Some of these diseases include heart and blood vessel diseases, diabetes, multiple sclerosis and alcoholism. When the impotence is caused by a physical illness it usually develops slowly. Most causes of impotence are physical. Some prescription drugs, like narcotics, sedatives and blood pressure medication can give you impotence as a side effect.
  • Psychological factors - a man's sexual drive or performance can be affected by stress, such as problems at work, relationship difficulties or financial worries. Psychiatric conditions and feeling depressed or anxious about poor sexual performance can also result in a failed erection. Only one in ten cases of impotence are caused by psychological factors.
  • A combination of physical illness and psychological factors - physical problems with maintaining an erection may cause the man to feel anxious about lovemaking, which makes the problem worse.
  • Unknown - in a few cases, neither physical nor psychological causes can explain the loss of sexual functioning.
  • More information on impotence (erectile dysfunction)

    What is impotence or erectile dysfunction? - Impotence is the inability of the male to have an erection. Some men may become impotent after having diabetes for a long time because the nerves or blood vessels have become damaged. Impotence may have a physiological or psychological basis.
    How does erection occur? - Erection begins with sensory and mental stimulation. Impulses from the brain and local nerves cause the muscles of the corpora cavernosa to relax, allowing blood to flow in and fill the open spaces.
    What causes impotence? - A common cause of impotence is a high level of atherosclerosis in the arteries feeding the penis. Damage to arteries, smooth muscles, and fibrous tissues, often as a result of disease, is the most common cause of impotence.
    What are the physical causes of impotence? - Physical impotence occurs when there is a problem with any of the systems needed to get or maintain an erection. Hardening of the arteries can affect the artery leading to the penis so that it cannot dilate enough to deliver all the blood necessary for an erection.
    What are the psychological causes of impotence? - Psychological causes of impotence often include work pressures, financial worries, fear of aging, or frustration with relationships. Depression and anxiety disorders are cited as the most common causes of psychological impotence.
    How is impotence (erectile dysfunction) treated? - Treatment depends on the cause. Testosterone supplements may be used for cases with hormonal deficiency. Drugs for treating impotence can be taken orally or injected directly into the penis.
    What're non-prescription treatments for impotence? - Among the herbs used for erectile dysfunction are yohimbine, gingko biloba (to increase blood flow), ginseng, pygeum, and muira puama. A penile sheath is a rigid or semi-rigid support put over the penis to support it for intercourse.
    What is MUSE? - MUSE is short for "medicated urethral system for erection." This treatment is based on the discovery that the urethra can absorb certain medications, which can then pass into the surrounding erectile tissue creating an erection.
    What is Viagra (sildenafil citrate)? - Viagra (sildenafil citrate), a prescription medication for the treatment of erectile dysfunction, is the first pill available that's been proven to improve erections in most men with impotence.
    What is Levitra (vardenafil)? - Levitra (vardenafil HCl) is a PDE inhibitor drug. This medication helps improve erection during sexual arousal and activity but erection should end after sexual activity is complete.
    What is Cialis (tadalafil)? - Tadalafil (Cialis?) is a drug used to treat male erectile dysfunction (impotence). The generic name for this compound is tadalafil.
    What about penile injection therapy? - Penile injection therapy is non surgical technique used to treat impotence. Penile injections have the advantage of not involving surgery. They are also effective in many dialysis patients.
    What are penile implants for impotence? - Penile implants (often called "internal penile pumps") are one of several erectile dysfunction treatment options. The inflatable penile prosthesis is a pump system surgically placed in the penis.
    What is hormonal therapy for impotence? - Sexual desire (libido) and an overall sense of well-being are likely to improve when serum testosterone levels (the level of the male hormone in the blood) are restored.
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    All information is intended for reference only. Please consult your physician for accurate medical advices and treatment. Copyright 2005, health-cares.net, all rights reserved. Last update: July 18, 2005