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Impotence or Erectile Dysfunction Causes and Treatments
Impotence or erectile dysfunction is the inability to attain or maintain an erection of the penis adequate for the sexual satisfaction of both partners. At one time, doctors tended to blame ED on psychological problems or, simple old age.
It is now known that for most men ED is caused by physical problems, usually related to the blood supply of the penis. These are most often related to vascular disease – problems with blood flow in and around your body. These vascular problems can be caused by diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol or hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) – all of which are more common as men age.
Other physical causes include:
- Neurological problems – damage to the nerves that control erection can occur due to stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis or spinal cord injury.
- Hormonal problems – low levels of the male hormone testosterone can cause ED. This can occur with certain medical conditions, such as pituitary gland tumors, or if the testicles have been removed (orchidectomy).
- Injury – an injury to the penis, bladder, pelvis or spine can cause ED.
Certain medications can also cause or contribute to ED, including:
- Blood pressure medications – such as diuretics (water pills), beta blockers and ACE inhibitors.
- Parkinson’s disease medications – such as levodopa.
- Hormone medications – such as testosterone replacement therapy, estrogen replacement therapy and certain anti-androgens.
- Depression medications – such as tricyclic antidepressants and monoamine oxidase inhibitors.
- Some heartburn medications – such as cimetidine (Tagamet) and ranitidine (Zantac).
In some cases, ED can be a side effect of recreational drug use. For example, the use of cocaine, amphetamines, marijuana, alcohol or heroin can cause ED.
Certain psychological factors can also cause or contribute to ED, including:
- Anxiety – especially performance anxiety during sex.
- Depression – this can lead to a loss of interest in sex or can cause erectile dysfunction.
- Stress – this can interfere with a man’s sexual arousal.
In some cases, ED can be a symptom of a more serious underlying health condition, such as:
- Heart disease – this can lead to hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), which can in turn lead to ED.
- Kidney disease – this can cause damage to the nerves that control erection.
- Liver disease – this can cause damage to the nerves that control erection.
- Multiple sclerosis – this can damage the nerves that control erection.