Erectile Dysfunction (Impotence)
What is erectile dysfunction?
Erectile dysfunction, also known as
impotence, is the inability of a man to achieve or maintain an erection
sufficient for sexual intercourse. Occasional failure to achieve an erection is
a common phenomenon and does not constitute a medical problem. However, if the problem is recurring, it may
be erectile dysfunction and you should
consult your doctor.
Erectile dysfunction can refer to a total
inability to have an erection, an inconsistent ability to do so, or the ability
to sustain only brief ones.
The risk of erectile dysfunction increases
What causes erectile dysfunction?
Often, erectile dysfunction has a physical
cause, such as an injury or because of drug side effects. However, there may
also be psychological reasons, such as depression and anxiety.
An erection is the result of an interaction
between the blood circulation system, the nervous system, the hormonal balance
and a number of psychological factors. Because this is such a complex
mechanism, disruption at any level can result in erectile dysfunction.
What are some of the physical causes of
- Excessive drinking
- Heavy smoking
- Side effects from certain drugs, such as
some antidepressants or some drugs used to treat high blood pressure
- A disease of the nervous system, such as MS
- Diabetes can, in some cases, result in
- Heart or circulation problems
- Other serious, long-term illnesses – such
as liver or kidney disease.
What are some of the psychological causes
of erectile dysfunction?
- Performance anxiety (worrying about how you
will perform during sex)
- Relationship problems.
Sometimes an occasional erection problem
can set off a cycle whereby the worry and stress caused by the initial problem becomes
a cause of further erection difficulties.
What should I do if I am having erection
If possible, you should discuss the
situation with your partner. Failing to be open with your partner about your
anxieties can exacerbate the problem. If the cause of the problem is a
psychological one, then expressing your feelings openly with your partner may help
to ease any stress and pressure ‘to perform’.
If the problem is recurring, then outside
help may be required. The first source of help is your GP. Many men feel too embarrassed to
consult their doctor about erection problems. However, many men with
erectile dysfunction are helped enormously by their GPs – some GPs even have a
special interest or expertise in the area.
How is erectile dysfunction treated?
There are a number of treatment options for
erectile dysfunction, and which one is right for you will depend on the cause.
For example, if the cause is psychological, you may be referred to a
psychotherapist to get to the root of the problem. Such treatment is successful
in the majority of cases, even where erectile dysfunction has been a long-term problem.
If it is suspected that erectile
dysfunction is a side-effect of a medication, switching to a different class of
drug may solve the problem.
Your doctor may also recommend lifestyle
changes, such as reducing your alcohol intake or cutting down on smoking.
Otherwise, you may receive some sort of
drug therapy. In recent years, Viagra has become one of the most famous drugs
in the world, due to its ability to help millions of men with the problem of erectile
dysfunction. There are now a number of oral drug therapies available.
Other medical options include injections,
which are self-administered into the penis to bring about an erection. Penile
implants are sometimes used, particularly for men who are permanently impotent.
Some implants are inflatable by squeezing a small bulb placed in the scrotum to
achieve an erection. Another option is a vacuum device, which uses a pump to
draw blood into the penis. Surgery may also be an option for some men, whose
problem is caused by a blockage in blood flow to the penis.
For more information and advice, visit the
irishhealth.com Erection Problems Clinic