Erectile dysfunction (ED) or impotence is the state if being unable to obtain and maintain an erection that’s adequately firm for sexual intercourse. Erectile dysfunction can lead to low self-esteem, stress and relationship problems. Around 30 million Americans suffer from an ongoing issue of erectile dysfunction while most adult males are affected by transient episodes.
Although having short-lived erection trouble might not necessarily be a cause for concern, it can be an indication of an underlying health issue that requires treatment. Erectile dysfunction can also increase the risk of heart disease. Fortunately, nearly all of those who seek treatment for erectile dysfunction attain some measure of relief.
Causes of Erectile Dysfunction
In men, the process of sexual arousal is complex and involves the brain, nerves, blood vessels, muscles, hormones and even emotions. Problems with any of these can lead to erectile dysfunction. Similarly, mental health problems and psychological issues like stress and anxiety can worsen or cause erectile dysfunction.
A combination of psychological and physical problems can also lead to erectile dysfunction. For example, a minor physical condition can slow one’s sexual response, causing anxiety about one’s ability to maintain an erection and possibly resulting in erectile dysfunction.
Erectile dysfunction in older men: According to urologists, physical factors are the main causes of persistent erectile dysfunction in older men. In men over 50 years, health conditions that restrict blood flow to the penis tend to be the most common causes of impotence. Other vascular causes include a faulty vein that allows blood to drain from the penis quickly.
Other factors can also lead to erectile dysfunction in older men, including:
• Hormonal imbalances
• Heart disease
• High cholesterol
• Multiple sclerosis
• Injuries or surgeries affecting the spinal cord or pelvic area
• High blood pressure
• Excessive use of tobacco
• Sleeping disorders
• Metabolic syndrome, a medical condition that involves high insulin levels, high cholesterol, increased blood pressure, and accumulated body fat around the waist.
Although sexual arousal tends to take longer with age, chronic erectile dysfunction requires medical attention.
Erectile dysfunction in younger men: Psychological issues are believed to be the main cause of impotence in younger men. Differences in sexual preferences and poor communication with sexual partners can give rise to anxiety and tension, both of which can lead to erectile dysfunction. Other common factors include:
• Fear of rejection and other sexual fears
• Feelings of inadequacy
• Substance abuse disorders
• Incidents of sexual abuse as a child
The nervous system controls the vascular processes that generate an erection. Unfortunately, a number of prescription medications can interfere with the nerve signals necessary for erection. Possible culprits include treatments for prostate cancer, high blood pressure and depression. A variety of sedatives, stimulants, antihistamines and diuretics can have the same effect on some people. Even so, no one should stop their medication without consulting a doctor.