(ED; Erectile Dysfunction; Male Erectile Disorder)
DefinitionImpotence is the inability to attain or maintain an erection of the penis that is firm enough for sexual intercourse.To initiate and maintain an erection, the penis must fill with blood. One type of blood vessel opens wide to allow blood into the penis. Meanwhile, a second type of blood vessel squeezes down to keep the blood from leaving the penis. Nerve signals cause the proper changes in the blood vessels.
CausesThe following factors can cause erectile dysfunction:
Venous LeakThe blood vessels that keep the blood from leaving the penis may be injured or have disease. This can cause a leak in these vessels. Blood can escape through these leaks during an erection. This means that an erection cannot occur or may not last long.
Neurovascular FunctionProblems with the nerves and blood vessels can cause impotence. Conditions that can cause problems include:
- Nerve dysfunction—can reduce feeling in the penis, resulting in impotence
- Diabetes —interferes with nerve signals
- Hardening of the arteries —can cause reduced blood flow
- Peripheral neuropathy , spinal cord injury, and surgery—can damage nerves
- Side-effects from medications—interferes with proper functioning of the blood vessels
|Blood Vessels and Nerves of the Male Pelvis|
|Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.|
Psychological FactorsMany of the nerve signals needed for an erection come from the brain. Emotional problems may play a role in men who suddenly develop impotence.
Risk FactorsImpotence is more common in men who are 65 and older. It is also more common in men of Hispanic descent. Factors that increase your chance of developing impotence include:
- Certain medical conditions:
- Hardening of arteries
- Chronic kidney disease
- Liver failure
- Peyronie's disease—bending of the penis caused by scar tissue
- Endocrine disorders
- Neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis , peripheral neuropathy , and stroke
- Psychiatric disorders, such as anxiety and depression
- Traumatic conditions:
- Vascular surgery
- Pelvic surgeries, particularly for prostate cancer
- Spinal cord injury
- Antihypertensives—for high blood pressure
- Antihistamines—common as allergy medication
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