Impotence or male erectile dysfunction represents a common male inability to achieve or maintain an erection sufficient enough for satisfactory sexual activity.
Erectile dysfunction affects about 50% of all men older than 40 years. It substantially impairs the quality of life and causes other related conditions.
The problem is complex and should be diagnosed by a medical professional. So, if a person starts experiencing poor penile erections every now and then, he should consult a doctor as soon as possible.
A penile erection is produced by a cooperative work of physiologic processes involving the central nervous, peripheral nervous, hormonal, and vascular systems. When any of these systems cannot work properly, the problem can occur.
The medication use or disease, smoking or alcohol abuse can produce a significant impact on the ability to develop and sustain an erection.
A common cause of erectile dysfunction is problems with blood circulation. Men who suffer from impotence often have coronary artery disease, atherosclerosis, and vascular disease.
Vascular diseases like myocardial infarction (MI), atherosclerosis and arterial hypertension greatly affect the vessels around the penis and can induce impotence in men. Men with affected blood vessels lose erectile function within few years after they develop vascular disease.
Impotence usually has a multi-factorial origin involving organic, physiologic, endocrine, and psychogenic factors.
Conditions that are commonly blamed for causing impotence include: diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, depression. Any alterations in the hormonal, vascular and nervous systems can lead to erectile dysfunction.
Hypertension and smoking factors cause circulatory and structural changes in penile tissues. They dramatically change the blood supply of the penis and make the smooth muscle relaxation within the penis defective.
Trauma to the pelvic blood vessels or nerves can also lead to erectile dysfunction. Diabetes is a risk factor for ED which can be effectively controlled by lowering blood sugar levels, physical activity and proper diet.
High cholesterol level is the proven risk for developing blood vessel problems and erectile dysfunction. Men who have high levels of bad cholesterol commonly experience impotence.
Penile conditions like Peyronie disease may result in fibrosis and deformity of the penis. Men with Peyronie disease may have scar tissue in the corpora to decrease blood flow.
Prostate surgery is associated with ED due to nerve damage from the procedure. Radical prostatectomy for the treatment of prostate cancer increases the risks of impotence.
Mental health disorders such as performance anxiety, fears, stress, and depression are associated with impaired sexual performance.
Smoking and inactive way of life, obesity and other health factors increase the chances for developing erectile dysfunction.
Exercise and lifestyle modifications like weight loss and control, quitting smoking may improve erectile function. Self-education and special programs for maintaining general health can produce positive effects for men in risk groups for impotence.