Impotence also known as Erectile Dysfunction or sometimes just as ED is a common problem among men, it is characterized by the consistent inability to achieve or sustain an erection sufficient for sexual intercourse. Just how common is difficult to quantify because even in today’s much more enlightened times, less than 20% of men affected by erectile dysfunction seek help, but research suggests a figure of more than 200 million impotence sufferers in the western world.
Types of Impotence
a. Transient impotence: Occasional erection problems are very common with more than 50% of men experiencing a failure to achieve full sexual function at least once in their life. This is not considered dysfunction, especially as one gets older.
b. Primary impotence: The patient with this condition never achieves a sufficient erection.
c. Secondary impotence: Where the person has succeeded in completing intercourse in the past but is now having problems.
Causes of Male Impotence
Statistics indicate an organic problem in 20% to 50% of men with erectile problems.
Often both organic and psychological factors coexist making it very difficult to easily pinpoint one factor as the cause. Another complication is that many medications can affect the ability to achieve an erection.
Organic causes of impotence in men include Diabetes, Heart disease, High blood pressure, and Prostate cancer. Outside factors such as alcohol, steroids, or drugs such as beta-blockers can be implicated. Impotence can also be caused by a blood clot that prevents enough blood from flowing into the penis to cause an erection or by generally poor physical health, poor dietary habits, and obesity.
Impotence that is triggered by psychological factors is more likely to appear suddenly and perhaps with just one particular person. Psychological causes include; difficult relationships, guilt, fear, previous rejections, religion, depression, stress, and anxiety.
Symptoms of various Types of Impotence and Diagnosis
Secondary erectile disorders can be:
a. Partial: where the man is unable to achieve a full erection.
b. Intermittent: where he is sometimes potent with the same partner.
c. Selective: where erection can only be achieved with certain partners.
In disorders caused by Psychogenic problems, erection can still be achieved by masturbation. In such cases, there are often signs of sweating and palpitations.
A full sexual history is needed to help differentiate between organic and psychogenic causes and between primary and secondary impotence.
Questions should include:
1. When did the condition begin, was it sudden or gradual.
2. Can he achieve erections through masturbation.
3. Is he taking medication for other conditions.
4. What was his life situation when the problem first surfaced.
5. Does he have an underlying disease.
6. Are there personal problems at home.
Treatment for Impotence
Impotence can have devastating effects on the psyche of men as most men still associate sexual performance with self-esteem. Often they become uncertain and frustrated and unless they can communicate openly they might begin evading intimate situations with their partners.
Treatments except for testosterone supplementation which can be useful in age-related impotence work temporarily, they enable an erection to be attained and maintained long enough for intercourse but do not permanently improve the underlying condition.
Treatments for erectile dysfunction include medications such as Viagra and Cialis, vacuum devices, counseling, injections directly into the penis, and penile prosthetic implants. Another breakthrough medication, Uprima, works by stimulating the area of the brain responsible for arousal and stimulation.
Alternative treatments for impotence include; herbal supplements such as Gingko Biloba, Hypericum, and B group vitamins which may help. Lately, there have been reports of success with FDA-listed strips used in conjunction with their associated marine phytoplankton nutritional patches that help the body to regulate the immune system and improve blood flow.
Some couples find that counseling enhances the effects of other forms of impotence treatment by making their relationship stronger.
Side Effects of Impotence Treatments
Impotence medications can increase the risk of vision loss in men who have a history of heart disease or high blood pressure and there have been reports of death supposedly associated with the use of these drugs.