Impotence: A Word No Man Wants to Hear
04/03/2012 | 12:31 PM
Impotence is a very common problem. One in ten men have trouble establishing or maintaining an erection sometime in their lives. The likelihood increases with age. To get an erection, men need healthy blood vessels, nerves, hormones and a desire to be sexually stimulated. If any one of these areas is compromised, the result is impotence. Only 10% of impotence is strictly physiological. The vast majority of cases have underlying psychological causes such as relationship difficulties, performance anxiety or stress, low self-esteem.
Treatment for impotence depends a lot on the causes.
- Stress – stress is one of the leading causes of impotence. Experts are increasingly aware that stress and depression are not strictly psychological conditions but have significant physical dimensions as well. Stress takes a general toll on the body and often drains sexual desire.
- Anxiety – anxiety about sex or performance can cause impotence. This is most common among teenagers. This kind of anxiety can be reduced by making sure you are with a partner you trust and that issues like contraception are being responsibly dealt with so that there is no added fear of unwanted pregnancy or STDs.
- Diabetes – 35-75% of men with diabetes suffer impotence. Diabetics are at risk of neuropathy, a condition that results in damage to the blood vessels and nerves due to poor circulation. This means that while a person may have sexual desire, it could still be difficult to achieve a firm erection.
- Surgery –Occasionally, surgery in the colon or bowel area will damage surrounding blood vessels, veins or nerves affecting the ability to get an erection.
- Drugs and smoking – regular use of certain drugs can make it difficult to get an erection. Most common are anti depressants, which contain ingredients aimed at relaxing the body and which, consequently, make it hard to achieve an erection. Nicotine, also, narrows the arteries limiting the amount of blood that can flow to a particular area of the body. Smokers are twice as likely to be impotent as non-smokers.
- Arsenic Poisoning/Potassium Deficiency: Recent studies have shown that ingesting too much arsenic, found in some water supplies, leads to potassium deficiency, which weakens the muscles in the penis. A 2007 study found that over 137 million people in more than 70 countries are probably affected by arsenic poisoning of drinking water.
- Lack of interest in sex – most men suffering from impotence will show less interest in sex. They will show less interest in their partner and will not be stimulated by sexy or beautiful images.
- Relationship problems -- impotence could lead to problems in the relationship or relationships problems could be the cause of the impotence. Couples who are fighting more than usual or feel distant from each other might consider impotence as a cause.
- Depression – impotent can lead to feelings of depression. When a person fails to satisfy their partner (or thinks they are failing them) or is unable to partake in a highly pleasurable act, this can cause psychological distress. A person can be depressed for another reason but it is not uncommon for this to manifest in impotence.
Impotence: Treatment Options
- Vacuum Pumps/Constriction Rings – A plastic vacuum constriction device (VCD) is put over the penis and pumped until a vacuum is created and as negative pressure develops the penis becomes engorged with blood. A constriction ring is placed at the base of the penis to keep the blood in the penis so that the erection can be maintained.
- Drugs –impotence can be addressed through medication. The best known is Viagra. Viagra works by opening up the blood vessels that lead to the penis so that more blood can flow into it. Other popular drugs for impotence are Cialis and Levitra.
- Counseling – impotence caused by anxiety or depression or a history of sexual abuse can be treated with therapy or counseling.
- Exercise – The cardiovascular system is responsible for erectile function, so problems with circulation and heart disease often cause impotence. Studies show that men who exercise 3-5 hours a week have a 30% lower chance of becoming impotent.
- Stop smoking –Nicotine causes the constriction of blood vessels, which reduces the flow of blood throughout the body. An erection requires a large amount of blood flow to the penis all at once. Most of the time, quitting smoking can lead to a reversal of the effects on the vascular system and the blood vessels, but in certain cases the damage is too great.
- Maintain normal blood levels – this goes for blood sugar levels, blood pressure levels and blood cholesterol levels, particularly diabetics. If any of these things are not controlled, poor blood circulation can result which can lead to a blocking of the arteries. This puts a person at risk of heart attack but also of impotence.
A healthy life style, full of exercise, no smoking and positive sexual relationships, can lower the likelihood of impotence. In the case that impotence does arise, there are many ways of dealing with it: counseling, lifestyle changes or through medication. Most important, is to talk openly about these things with your partner and not to internalize the problem as some kind of reflection on your manhood or masculinity. Again, impotence is common