More common than you think, impotence is a condition affecting males and is characterized by the inability to achieve or maintain a firm erection. The symptoms may vary, but it is likely that a person suffering from this dysfunction cannot attain or very briefly sustain a proper erection, leading to unsatisfactory sexual intercourse and problems with ejaculation.
Depression, low self-esteem, stress, anxiety, and poor sex life are just some of the negative effects of impotence on a person’s life. However, having erectile trouble from time to time isn’t necessarily an issue but if this starts happening routinely, then consulting a doctor is the right thing to do.
A study conducted by Cleveland Clinic in 2019 suggested that 1 out of every 10 men are likely to suffer from this condition at least once in their lifetime. It was also observed that the chances of erectile dysfunction drastically increase with age. It is three times more common in men above the age of 40 than those below it. Between 1987-1989, the most extensive and elaborate study on this dysfunction called Massachusetts Male Aging Study was conducted. The results showed that while 10% of the test subjects were completely impotent, over 25% were moderately impotent and above 52% were suffering from some degree of impotence.
What are its underlying causes?
Several factors, including both emotional stressors and physical disorders, contribute to impotence and erectile dysfunctions.
- Endocrine disorders
The endocrine system is responsible for the production of hormones that regulate every aspect of our body. Be it metabolism, respiration or cardiovascular function, all our bodily processes are indirectly controlled by specific hormones. The amount of the hormone testosterone affect our mood, reproduction and feelings of sexual desire. Therefore, any problem in the body’s ability to produce this hormone can have huge effects on a person’s sexual well-being.
A common example of an endocrine disorder is diabetes, the inability of the body to produce insulin. Chronic diabetes, in most cases, leads to nerve damage, disrupting the feeling of sensation in the penis. Inadequate supply of blood, damaged arteries and vessels, along with ups and downs in hormone levels, can all lead to impotency.
- Nervous disorders:
Nerves are basically the brain’s way of communicating with the entire body. Messages and commands from the brain are relayed to bodily organs via nerves; therefore, even the slightest disturbance in this pathway can have severe repercussions for the human body. Neurological disorders like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, brain tumors, stroke, multiple sclerosis, etc., have often been linked to impotence. These conditions cause nerve damage, which disrupts the brain’s communication with the reproductive organs.
In some cases, the inability to become sexually aroused can be the result of certain medications that you’ve been prescribed. Although these drugs intend to treat a certain disease but in doing so, they can affect hormone production and blood circulation. Depressants or psychiatric medicines that are used to treat depression and anxiety, synthetic hormones, di-uretics, cocaine and marijuana are just a few examples of prescription drugs that can cause temporary impotence.
- Cardiovascular issues:
A proper lasting erection requires surplus blood to flow towards the penis. Therefore, conditions that can affect the heart’s ability to pump blood are bound to create impotency issues. Examples of these conditions include atherosclerosis, which leads to hardened arteries and blood vessels that may clog blood flow, improper supply of blood to the penile region makes it difficult to sustain an erection. Similarly, high cholesterol and hypertension increase blood pressure to such an extent that the nerve endings in the male genitalia become compressed. Damaged nerves cannot provide feelings of sexual arousal.
- Lifestyle choices:
The male reproductive system is complex and involves the combined functions of the brain, hormones, emotions, blood vessels and muscles. When a person becomes sexually aroused, they go through the excitement phase. Since this is an emotional response disorder that affects an individual’s feelings, it can also affect their ability to get sexually aroused. For example, a person struggling with depression undergoes phases of sadness, exhaustion and immense physical fatigue.
Another factor to keep in mind is performance anxiety. An individual who has dealt with erectile dysfunction in the past is bound to have feelings of fear and nervousness around their sexual partners. They may have no issues with arousal during masturbation or sleeping, but in the presence of their partner, they can often feel so overwhelmed that they aren’t able to cross the barrier of sexual excitement. Since a healthy sex life is key to any good relationship, a lack thereof can have a negative impact on the couple’s personal life.
Drugs like cocaine, marijuana, alcohol and amphetamines suppress our central nervous system. The nervous system is the messenger of the human body. It recognizes the changes in the body’s external and internal environment. Depending on the stimuli, it relays messages to the required organs, which, in turn, triggers the production of specific hormones and responses. Hence, substance abuse is one of the leading causes of impotence as it slows down the nervous system and causes it to function improperly.
Can impotence be treated?
Erectile dysfunction is a condition that can be easily treated with numerous medical treatments. Since impotence develops progressively, diagnosing it earlier can make the treatment process much more effective and efficient. Having erectile issues every now and then is no cause of concern, but if the problem persists and you’re consistently facing difficulties during sexual intercourse, then immediately consult a professional. Initially, their questions might feel embarrassing and invasive, but rest assured, an honest, open conversation with your doctor will go a long way. Knowing your full medical history will help you both select a treatment plan that is the most appropriate for you.
Once you visit a professional, they are likely to give you one of the following exams before they select a course of treatment:
Physical exam: It’s just like a general health checkup that focuses on the overall health of the individual. You’ll be asked for your age and family’s medical history to evaluate risk factors. If your family has a history of cardiovascular diseases, then the doctor may direct their focus on your heart, blood and respiratory system, blood pressure and peripheral vessels. You may even be recommended a prostate exam. None of these tests are painful and most patients do not require extensive checkups before starting on a treatment plan.
Lab work: Your doctor may recommend blood tests to check up on your hormone levels and blood sugar concentrations. If need be, they may also order urine tests and pelvic X-rays to search for any underlying health issues that contribute to impotence. For extensive research, ultrasonography is recommended, which is basically like an ultrasound for the male genitalia to check the blood flow.
What treatment options are available?
- Non-invasive treatment:
Treating impotence starts with improving your physical and mental health. Regular therapy is recommended for a person with a psychological disorder or emotional conflicts. These may arise due to struggles within your relationship, depression, anxiety and other life’s stressors. Remember, being vocal about these with a professional may help better the situation.
Cutting down on alcohol and other drugs, avoiding certain food groups, eating clean and being active are also factors that can drastically improve your sexual well-being.
If you’re taking drugs for any other condition, having them assessed is a good option. Your health care provider will recommend alternatives if they believe that your prescriptions are impacting your sex drive.
Your treatment plan may also involve the use of additional oral drugs that increase blood flow to the penis and help with normal nerve function. So far, the FDA has only approved 4 oral agents that can safely be prescribed to affected individuals; Viagra, Levitra, Cialis and Stendra. Having any of these an hour or so before sexual intercourse can help both with erections and ejaculation. In cases where the individual’s blood work shows low hormone levels, they may be recommended to get testosterone therapy, coupled with the drugs, to help with their sex drives.
- Vacuum erection device:
Using this device requires proper training, but those who have gotten accustomed to it have reported attaining working erections for as long as 30 minutes. The device comes with a plastic tube that makes a seal with the skin of the penile region. There is a vacuum on the other end of this tube that creates a low-pressure vacuum around the erectile tissue. This directs blood flow to the penis, once an erection is attained, an elastic ring is slipped at the base of the penis to prevent the blood from flowing back.
- Sound wave therapy:
Introduced by True Freedom Therapy, low intensity sound wave therapy is a non-invasive, painless and entirely safe procedure that can help treat impotence efficiently. In the past, men tried to solve erectile issues with temporary fixes that were harmful in the long run like pills and pumps. True Freedom’s acoustic sound wave therapy allows you to skip all these bogus options and opt for a pain-free, needle-free and surgery-free approach. Patients have reported seeing visible results after only 2 to six sessions of only fifteen minutes each.
This revolutionary therapy claims to cure impotence by enhancing erectile tissue growth, unclogging blood vessels to promote blood flow, disintegrate micro plaque buildup and help in the regeneration of blood vessels in the male genitalia. In addition to treating the existing erectile issue, patients reported an overall improved sexual performance, better orgasms and increased sensations within the penis. True Freedom Therapy Clinic also offers a free consultation to provide you with a better understanding of your issues and what treatment options are most suited to treat it. Professionals are always available to answer all your questions and free your mind of doubts or fears. To know more, click here!
- Self-injection and intraurethral therapy:
If oral prescriptions don’t work for you, then doctors may recommend the use of another drug called Alprostadil. This drug is administered either through an intracavernosal injection or through the urethra. Self-injection is often preferred because it requires less visits to the doctor, making it more convenient. It is recommended to have the first shot in the doctor’s office and receive proper training regarding the dos and don’ts of self-injecting before you proceed on your own.
Using an extremely fine needle, the drug is administered into the side of the penis. If you opt for the urethral route, then a small medicated pellet of the drug will be gently placed in your urethra; a tube that carries urine out of your body. Both treatments have proven to be successful and allowed their users to attain reliable results. Yet, one side effect that you have to look out for is priapism. It is a condition in which erections last for abnormally long hours. If not treated immediately, priapism can lead to irreversible penile damage.
- Surgical options:
Most surgical treatments involve the insertion of penile prostheses, also called penile implants. There are two types of implants that can be used:
- Semi-rigid: Implants made from two or more easy-to-bend silicone rods. The rods can bend upward for sex and downwards for peeing.
- Inflatable: Fluid-filled cylinders joined through tubes to a pump placed in between the scrotum. Once the pump is triggered, the cylinders become inflated.
Although surgery gives the most natural appearing erections, allowing uninterrupted and spontaneous sexual relations yet, you should educate yourself and learn about all the risks involved beforehand. The recovery time should also be kept into consideration, it takes 1-2 months for the pain and discomfort to fully go away. There is a small chance of the implant getting infected after the surgery, and if this happens, the implant is likely to be removed. Once you’ve had penile surgery, it limits you towards other options as non-surgical treatments may no longer work.
Most cases of impotence arise due to an underlying health condition. However, there is no need to worry because this issue is easily treatable. You have several options at hand, and one of these is bound to work for you. Just remember that having an open and honest conversation regarding your issues with a health care professional can take you a long way!
If you are suffering from impotence or erectile dysfunction related symptoms, schedule a free consultation with us now to discuss treatment options!