Male impotence, erectile dysfunction causes, symptoms, treatment, and prevention

Author: nicodemus
Published on: 2021-10-28 21:15:39   Updated On: October-28-2021 21:15:39

Impotence, also known as erectile dysfunction (ED), refers to a state where a mature male has trouble attaining and/or maintaining an erection. This makes it difficult if not impossible for the individual to have sexual intercourse. Specifically, an erection occurs when there is increased blood flow to the penis when a man becomes sexually excited.

According to the National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Diseases, an estimated 30 million men in the United States experience ED. Research findings suggest that the risk of ED becomes higher as one gets older.

In order for a man to attain and maintain a full erection, body tissues and organs located within the blood circulatory system, the nervous system, and the muscular system need to work seamlessly. In case any of the said tissues or organs malfunctions, achieving an erection becomes difficult.

When it occurs, impotence may negatively affect a man’s sexual life leading to depression, stress, and low self-esteem.  

What are the causes of male impotence or erectile dysfunction?

Several emotional and physical disorders contribute to the occurrence of impotence or erectile dysfunction. The following include some common causes of male impotence.

1. Cardiac-related conditions

Cardiac-related conditions affect the structure (anatomy) and/or functioning (physiology) of the heart. The first cardiac-related condition that may cause impotence is failure by the heart to pump sufficient blood to the rest of the body. When the heart fails to achieve this, the volume of blood reaching tissues and organs is insufficient to sustain their normal functioning. For one to achieve an erection, the heart must pump sufficient blood to the penis. When this fails to happen, the outcome is impotence.  

Atherosclerosis is another condition that may cause impotence. Atherosclerosis is a condition characterized by buildup of plaque in arteries. When this happens, the lumen of arteries become narrow. This hampers free flow of blood through these vessels. Ultimately, less blood reaches the heart, which in turns pumps the same volume of blood to the rest of the body. This means that insufficient blood reaches the rest of the body at a given time. As already pointed out, when insufficient blood reaches the penis, getting an erection becomes difficult. 

2. Endocrine diseases

The human endocrine system is in charge of producing hormones that regulate metabolic processes, mood, reproduction, and other body functions.

One of the endocrine diseases that cause impotence is Diabetes (also known as Diabetes mellitus). This is a metabolic disease characterized by the presence of high sugar levels in the blood.

Diabetes mellitus may be caused by failure of the body to synthesize enough insulin or underutilization of insulin produced in the body.

Insulin is a hormone charged with moving excess sugar in the blood to body cells for storage or for the production of energy (respiration).  When this fails to happen, the level of sugar in the blood remains quite high. When this situation persists due to lack of proper treatment, body tissues and organs such as the eyes, kidneys, and nerves, may get irreversibly damaged.

When nerves get damaged, attaining and sustaining an erection becomes difficult. This is because nerves are at the center of penis sensations that bring about an erection.

In addition, chronic diabetes may lead to impaired blood flow. This may lead to low blood volumes reaching the penis when a man is aroused. Hence, achieving an erection in this case becomes difficult.   

3. Lifestyle factors

A lifestyle characterized by abuse of drugs may cause impotence. This is because when an individual constantly abuses drugs, their sexual desire decreases. Absence of sexual desire makes it impossible for the individual to get and maintain an erection.

Examples of drugs that may cause impotence when abused include cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and amphetamines. Alcoholism can also affect an individual’s ability to get sexually aroused up to the point of achieving and maintaining an erection.

4. Emotional disorders

To get an erection, an individual begins by going through an excitement phase which in most cases is an emotional response. Therefore, when a person is suffering from an emotional disorder, his ability to become sexually excited is negatively affected.

When one is suffering from bouts of depression and anxiety, they risk becoming impotent. A depressed person usually feels hopeless, fatigued, sad, helpless, etc. Such feelings are likely to drain a person’s energy so much so that it becomes difficult to get sexually excited. Hence, achieving an erection is difficult.

Performance anxiety is another factor that contributes to impotence. When an individual has failed to get an erection in the past, they may live in constant fear that the same occurrence may repeat itself in the future. Thus, such persons may avoid having sex at all costs to avoid disappointment.

5. Medications

When you take certain medications, the flow of blood in your body may be affected. This may lead to erectile dysfunction because inadequate volume of blood reaches the penis. Such medications include:

  • Alpha-adrenergic blockers, such as, tamsulosin
  • Beta-blockers, such as carvedilol and metoprolol
  • Cancer chemotherapy medications, for example, cimetidine
  • Central nervous system depressants such as alprazolam, diazepam, and codeine
  • Central nervous system stimulants such as amphetamines and cocaine
  • Diuretics such furosemide and spironolactone
  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as fluoxetine and paroxetine
  • Synthetic hormones such as leuprolide.

6. Neurological and nerve disorders

Researchers have identified a number of neurologic conditions that can increase the risk of male impotence. Most conditions that affect nerves in the body ultimately affect ability of the brain to effectively communicate with the reproductive system. When there is poor or complete breakdown of communication between the brain and the reproductive system of an individual, achieving an erection becomes difficult or even impossible. These conditions include:

a) Alzheimer’s disease

This disease is a type of dementia, that is, a condition resulting from brain damage due to injury. It affects an individual’s memory and ability to think rationally. This may affect communication between the brain and the reproductive system. When this happens, getting an erection may be difficult.

b) Brain tumors

A brain tumor occurs when there is uncontrolled multiplication of abnormal cells in your brain. Some tumors are cancerous while others are not. Brain tumors may damage brain cells. This may cause communication breakdown between the brain and the reproductive system, leading to impotence.

c) Multiple sclerosis (MS)

Multiple sclerosis is a chronic condition that involves the central nervous system (CNS). It is a condition where the immune system attacks myelin, a protective layer that surrounds the nerve fibers. This leads to inflammation and the formation of temporary or lasting lesions. The lesions make it hard for the brain to properly relay signals to the rest of the body. Hence, there is communication breakdown between the brain and the reproductive system. This situation is likely to negatively impact on the sexual performance of an individual.

d) Parkinson’s disease

This is a progressive neurological disorder. It is characterized by a gradual decline in the level of dopamine in the body. Dopamine is a substance that coordinates muscle movements in the body. It is produced by a section of the brain called “substantia nigra”.

When Parkinson’s disease strikes, a gradual death of substantia nigra is triggered. This leads to a general decline in dopamine levels in the body. Ultimately, muscle movements in the body become negatively affected.  This means that muscles present in the penis may also be affected. Hence, attaining an erection becomes difficult.

e) Stroke

A stroke takes place when a blood vessel in the brain ruptures and bleeds. A stroke may also happen when blood supply to the brain is blocked. This may happen when for instance, a clot is formed in the vessels supplying the brain with blood. Both scenarios stop blood and oxygen from reaching brain cells and tissues. As a result, brain cells and tissues gradually begin to die due to lack of nutrients and oxygen (which is needed for respiration). Ultimately, there is a communication breakdown between the brain and the reproductive system which makes it impossible for the later to function optimally.

f) Temporal lobe epilepsy

Epilepsy is a disorder that affects the brain. It causes changes in activity of brain cells. This occurrence may trigger seizures, episodes of unusual behavior, and loss of consciousness.

Temporal lobe epilepsy is a type of epilepsy. Temporal lobes in the brain are in charge of handling emotions. In addition, the lobes help to process and store short-term memories.

Therefore, when an individual suffers from temporal lobe epilepsy, the process of handling emotions and short-term memories is negatively affected, leading to communication breakdown between the brain and the rest of the body. This means that the reproductive system of the individual will not function optimally.    

Treatment for male impotence or erectile dysfunction

Male impotence can be treated using lifestyle changes, medical interventions, and natural remedies.

i) Lifestyle changes

  • Stop abusing drugs
  • Reducing alcohol intake
  • Improving communication in your romantic relationship
  • Exercise more
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Avoid things that trigger anxiety, depression, and stress.

ii) Medical interventions for treating male impotence

Impotence can be treated using the following options:

  • Caverject (alprostadil)
  • Cialis (tadalafil - shop at amazon)
  • Penile implant surgery
  • Staxyn, Levitra (vardenafil)
  • Stendra (avanafil)
  • Testosterone replacement therapy (TRT)
  • Vascular surgery to improve flow of blood to the penis
  • Viagra (sildenafil)

iii) Natural remedies for treating male impotence

There are a number of natural remedies that can be used to treat impotence. However, one must exercise sufficient caution before using any of these options to avoid endangering their lives. It is always advisable to begin by consulting a qualified medical practitioner before adopting any of these solutions.

Following are some of the alternative or natural remedies for impotence:

  • Acupuncture
  • Korean red ginseng (also called Panax ginseng supplements: shop at amazon)
  • Pomegranate juice
  • Yohimbe supplements - shop at amazon

Prevention of male impotence or erectile dysfunction

  • Engaging in regular physical exercise
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Get enough sleep
  • Reduce anxiety, stress, and depression.
  • Stop abusing drugs
  • Stop alcohol abuse

About the Author

Nicodemus is an MBA (strategic management) graduate of Egerton University (Kenya). He also holds a BSc degree in botany, zoology and chemistry, from the University of Nairobi (Kenya). He is proficient in the following computer programming technologies - HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript, Bootstrap, PHP, MySQLi and Python. He is an experienced researcher and writer in the fields of business management, information technology, biological sciences, and social sciences. He enjoys developing computer programs and web applications that address diverse user needs.

*Available for article writing and web design/development projects*
(contact: +254 723 753820, email: [email protected])

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