What causes impotence?

Most of the time, impotence has a physical cause. Achieving an erection is a complicated process requiring your body to transmit sensations from the genital area to the nervous system and return nervous impulses to the muscles and blood vessels of the penis. Anything that interferes with this interchange, such as disease or injury of the blood vessels, muscles, or nerves, can lead to impotence. Psychological factors such as anxiety and depression can also interfere with your erectile function.

Causes of impotence

A number of factors may cause impotence including:

  • Abnormally low testosterone levels
  • Atherosclerosis (buildup of plaque on the walls of arteries; atherosclerosis is a common cause of cardiovascular disease)
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Diabetes
  • Kidney disease
  • Medication side effects
  • Multiple sclerosis (disease that affects the brain and spinal cord causing weakness, coordination, balance difficulties, and other problems)
  • Obesity
  • Penile or testicular trauma or surgery of the bladder or prostate
  • Peripheral neuropathy (disorder that causes dysfunction of nerves that lie outside your brain and spinal cord)
  • Spinal cord injury or tumor
  • Trauma or structural injury (prolonged bicycling or bicycling accident)

What are the risk factors for impotence?

Many factors may increase your risk of developing impotence. Not all people with risk factors will develop impotence. Risk factors for impotence include:

  • Advancing age
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Neurologic disorders
  • Overweight or obesity
  • Psychological conditions
  • Substance abuse

Reducing your risk of impotence

You can play an active role in lowering your risk of impotence by:

  • Controlling your blood pressure if you have high blood pressure
  • Controlling your blood sugar if you have diabetes
  • Discontinue illicit drug use
  • Decreasing or eliminating alcohol use
  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Increasing physical activity
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Participating in counseling to address emotional or psychological issues
  • Quitting smoking
INTRODUCTION

What is impotence?

Impotence, or erectile dysfunction, is the inability of a male to attain and keep an erection sufficiently firm to engage in or complete sexual intercourse. Although it is more common in older men, impotence can occur at any age. Impotence is not a normal consequence of aging. About 70% of erectile dysfunction is due to diseases such as diabetes and atherosclerosis, another 10% to 20% is due to... Read more about impotenceintroduction

SYMPTOMS

What are the symptoms of impotence?

Impotence, or erectile dysfunction, is the inability of a male to attain and keep an erection sufficiently firm to engage in or complete sexual intercourse. Impotence manifests differently in different individuals. You may find you are unable to achieve an erection at all, or you may be able to achieve an erection, but only briefly.

Common symptoms of impotence

Common s... Read more about impotencesymptoms

TREATMENTS

How is impotence treated?

Treatment of impotence begins with a lifelong program of regular medical care, which allows your health care professional to provide early screening tests. Regular medical care also provides an opportunity for your health care professional to promptly evaluate symptoms and your risks for developing impotence. Treatment of impotence is based on its cause.

Common treatments of i... Read more about impotencetreatments

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Aug 23, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

Your Guide to Erectile Dysfunction

This Article is Filed Under: Erectile Dysfunction, Male Reproductive System


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Did You Know?

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Men with erectile dysfunction are still fertile.