Impotence is not a matter of joke. Medically called erectile dysfunction or ED, this condition affects a man’s ability to perform in bed and achieve or maintain an erection, and/or ejaculate. This condition restricts or completely forbids penetrative sex.
Though impotence can occur in men of all ages, its risk increases with age. The common causes of impotence range from the emotional, psychological to the physical like:
- Diabetes: It can causes nerve damage, impairs blood flow and screws up hormone levels.
- Neurological and brain degenerative conditions: Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, brain or spinal tumours, multiple sclerosis, stroke and temporal lobe epilepsy can increase the risk for impotence. Men who’ve had prostate gland surgery can also experience nerve damage and impotence.
- Medications: Beta-blockers, cancer chemotherapy drugs, CNS depressants as well as stimulants like cocaine can cause ED. Diuretics and Prozac can also depress desire.
- Heart problems: Can lead to ED as blood is not pumped all over the body including the penis. Atherosclerosis which causes blockages of arteries is also a cause. High cholesterol and blood pressure both, are associated with an increased risk for impotence.
- Depression: It can cause performance anxiety and can lead to drug and alcohol abuse
- Medications for ED include PDE-5 inhibitors like sildenafil (Viagra), tadalafil (Cialis) and vardenafil (Staxyn, Levitra). These drugs are to be taken 30-60 minutes before sex. However, a doctor must prescribe these drugs after ruling out any heart condition in the patient. Neither are these drugs completely safe. The side effects associated with them include flushing, visual abnormalities, hearing loss, indigestion and headache.
- Vacuum erection devices are a mechanical way of producing an erection. They are preferred by men who do not want or cannot use ED drugs. These devices work by making the penis rigid by the use of a vacuum pump sealed around it that draws up blood. The blood is then prevented from leaving the penis by the use of an accompanying rubber band which is rolled to the base of the penis before penetrative sex can begin.
- The other treatments include testosterone replacement, blood vessel surgery and psychological counselling. It is especially useful for younger men who become impotent due to anxiety and stress. Alternate therapies like acupuncture have also been very effective for treating impotence. Lifestyle changes like denouncing drugs, smoking and alcohol can improve the condition significantly. So can exercising more and eating healthy.
The good news is that impotence is a treatable condition. But the challenge is not to take it lightly and ignore it because it can signal serious underlying problems like heart disease and diabetes. It is advisable that a man affected by impotence should consult a doctor immediately, even if he thinks it’s just caused by stress or his current partner. If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult a Sexologist.