Tuesday, 21 August 2012


Erectile dysfunction is a problem for
at least one in every ten men in the
What is impotence?
Impotence is now more commonly
known as erectile dysfunction (ED),
or sometimes erection difficulties.
Men find they're unable to achieve or
sustain an erection adequate for
sexual intercourse.
A man may find that he is unable to
achieve an erection at all, or that he
cannot sustain one that is hard
enough or lasts long enough for
sexual intercourse. Men with ED may
feel angry or guilty, and become
depressed. Many lose interest in sex
and relationships often suffer.
Cause and risk factors
It's thought that 70 per cent of cases
have physical causes and 30 per cent
psychological causes. However, often
there are both physical and
psychological reasons for the
Most men experience occasions at
some time in their lives, when they
cannot achieve or sustain an
erection, as a result of fatigue, stress
or excessive alcohol consumption.
Among younger men, ED is often
caused by anxiety – just about
having sex, pleasing their partner or
getting her pregnant. In middle age
stress, overwork and tiredness often
play a part.
Among older men, physical causes
become more common. These
include diabetes, thyroid or kidney
problems, high blood pressure,
damage to nerves or blood vessels,
pelvic surgery or trauma, heavy
smoking and the side-effects of
However, one of the commonest
causes is atherosclerosis – damage
to the small blood vessels which
control blood supply to the penis. In
fact researchers have warned that
erectile dysfunction may be an early
warning of widespread
atherosclerosis which could lead
within a couple of years to a heart
attack. Psychological problems may
also be relevant in ED, and include
depression, and sexual or
relationship worries.
Treatment and recovery
Treatment depends on the
underlying cause. The first step is to
talk to someone who understands
the problem, such as your GP or a
properly qualified specialist. They will
help to check for physical causes,
advise on treatments and refer you
on to a suitable therapist if
appropriate. It may also help to talk
to your partner about the problem,
and sexual counselling may be an
In the past decade oral new
medicines (tablets) that help a man
to achieve an erection have radically
improved the treatment of ED. These
drugs work for the majority of men
affected, whatever the cause.
But they don’t help or suit everyone
and can cause important side effects.
So other treatments still have a place
– these include mechanical aids such
as vacuum pumps or penile
implants, and medicines such as
intra-urethral pellet therapy and
injections into the penis. Your doctor
should be able to help you find a
treatment that will work for you.
To reduce your risk of ED, avoid
smoking and excessive alcohol, eat
healthily, take regular exercise, and
make sure you relax and get plenty
of rest.

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