Erectile Dysfunction - FAQ's


What is erectile dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction or impotence can be defined as the inability to get or sustain an erection sufficient for sexual intercourse. It is a common in 40% of men over 50 but not talked about problem.

The ability to be able to get an erection is important to most men old and young, but because of taboos and embarrassment many men suffer without seeking help or advice from their Doctor or Nurse.

What happens when you have an erection?

All men require hormones, blood supply, nerves and a desire if he is to achieve an erection. If one or more of these mechanisms fail then the erection will also fail. When aroused nerve impulses travel from the brain to the penis. This triggers the relaxation of the smooth muscle in the penis which then allows increased blood flow into the tissues. As the penis fills with blood it will enlarge and become erect. As the penis enlarges it compresses the veins inhibiting blood flow out of the penis, thus sustaining the erection. The penis will stay erect until ejaculation or when arousal stops.

What physical causes are there?

It can be a host of different reason such as:

A deficiency of male hormones can reduce desire or interest in sexual function.
Nerve damage to the nerves that cause an erection can cause a reduction in sensitivity and thus make it increasingly difficult to achieve an erection.
Disease of the blood vessels The blood vessels become narrowed and hardened. This reduces the blood supply to the penis.
Trauma/injury to the spinal chord.
Pelvic surgery. Some operations on the prostate, bladder or bowel may result in some nerve damage leading to impotence.
Drugs. As a result, some drugs for blood pressure, depression and sedatives have the side effect of causing impotence.
Smoking and alcohol. Those who smoke and drink are more likely to suffer from impotence.
In men with diabetes the most common cause of erectile dysfunction is disease of the blood vessels and/or nerve damage. Angiogenesis and revascularisation cause new blood vessels to form and thus improve this previously impaired blood supply.
Do psychological causes play a part in erectile dysfunction?

Yes. It is very common to see a combination of psychological and physical causes but pure psychological causes are unusual. Problems with the ability to get and maintain an erection can also be caused by stress, depression, anxiety, relationship problems, embarrassment, guilt and many other reasons.

When a man has difficulty getting an erection for whatever cause, it is common to experience feelings of pressure to perform and to fear failure. This can lead to a feeling of inadequacy and a sense of loss of manhood.