What is Impotence?
Impotence is the inability to sustain an erection sufficient for sexual intercourse. It is also known as Erectile Dysfunction.
Erectile dysfunction is a common and distressing medical condition that is estimated to affect one in ten men aged 18 or over at some stage in their lives. The incidence of erectile dysfunction increases with age; 38 percent of men aged between 60-69 and 57 percent of men aged over 70 are thought to suffer from erectile dysfunction.
A recent survey carried out by the Erectile Dysfunction Information Bureau revealed that men consider impotence to be the most embarrassing medical problem to discuss. They estimate that only 10 percent of men who experience impotence ever seek help.
It is important to realise that impotence is a common sexual problem; you should not allow it to become a source of tension in an otherwise healthy and fulfilling relationship.
In the past it was thought that impotence was caused purely by psychological factors, however, it is now believed that physical conditions are present in about 70 percent of cases.
Research shows that most men do not fully understand the causes of erectile dysfunction, believing emotional or psychological problems to be the main cause. However, in the majority of cases impotence is caused by physical factors such as the side effects of prescribed medications, alcohol abuse, smoking and illnesses such as heart disease and diabetes. The condition is often made worse by worry and “fear of failure”.
Physical causes of impotence include…
- Diabetes. Impotence may be a presenting feature of diabetes. It is estimated that 50 percent of men with diabetes suffer from impotence
- Diseases affecting the nerves, such as multiple sclerosis, or injury to the spinal cord or pelvis.
- Artherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries)
- Side effects of prescribed drugs such as…
– Anti hypertensive drugs (used to treat high blood pressure) such as thiazide diuretics, beta blockers and methlydopa.
– Anticonvulsants such as phenytoin and carbamazepine
– Ulcer healing drugs such as cimetidine and ranitidine
– Alcohol or drug abuse
- Hormonal abnormalities such as a lack of testosterone or an increased prolactin level
- Certain types of prostate and pelvic surgery
- Anatomical defects of the penis including Peyronie’s disease (characterised by a curvature in the penis due to fibrous plaques), which leads to decreased rigidity
- In some cases, impotence may be caused by psychological factors such as…
– Anxiety about sexual performance
– Relationship problems
– Stress or anxiety at work or home