Erectile dysfuncion (ED) or impotence is a form of sexual dysfunction characterized by the ability to develop or maintain an erection of the penis during sexual activity.
In anatomy, a penile erection is the effect of the entry and retention of blood in the corpora spongiosa, the sponge-like structures of the penis. Most often, an erection is triggered by sexual arousal, in which signals are transmitted from the brain to the nerves in the penis.
Psychological impotence refers to the failure of erection or penetration secondary to thoughts or feelings caused by psychological reeasons, besides physical impossibility. While the condition is less frequent than other cases, it can be resolved through placebo treatment, which has produced positive results.
According to a study in Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, more than 18 million men in the United States aged 20 and above are affected by erectile dysfunction. The study results suggested that the prevalence of erectile dysfunction was highly associated with factors, such as age, lack of physical activity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Published on Feb. 1, 2007, the study findings can be seen in the American Journal of Medicine.
Anxiety stands as the nmber one cause of erectile dysfunction, according to Healthline. Serving as the body’s natural response to stress, anxiety referes to a feeling of fear and apprehension about what is to come. In fact, men with increased stress and anxiety may also have high blood pressure and cholesterol level, which boosts a man’s risk of havin erectile dysfunction. The interplay among anxiety, stress, and erectile dysfunction is viewed by experts as a cycle, as anxiety and stress cause erectile dysfunction, which results to further stress and anxiety.
Spinal cord injury (SCI) is also attributed to erectile dysfunction. A case-control study in Medscape aimed to confirm if spinal cord injury alters the neurological pathways of sexual function and to establish a difference between men with the condition and healthy men with regard sexual dysfunction. The study involved 98 men with spinal cord injury and sexual dysfunction and 89 men without spinal cord injury and sexual dysfunction. According to the study’s literature patients with spinal cord injury had higher rates of erectile dysfunction and it had been linked to the lesions in the neurological pathways associated with a person’s sexual function.
With a growing number of smokers in the adult population, smoking also stands as a factor that contributes to erectile dysfunction. According to the American Heart Association annual conference on Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention in Miami (via Web MD), a study documented a link between cigarette smoking and erectile dysfunction. When a person smokes, plaque builds up in the arteries, which is a condition called atherosclerosis. The plaque blocks the flow of blood through the penile blood vessels, leading to erectile dysfunction. The study results revealed that men who smoked over 20 cigarettes per day had a 60 percent greater risk of erectile dysfunction and those who currently and previously smoked have about 30 percent more risk of suffereing from impotence.
Aside from smoking, alcoholism is also a link to erectile dysfunction. According to Everyday Health, while alcohol could be helpful to get someone in the mood, it could also trigger sexual issues. Alcohol serves as a depressant to the body, and this mechanism affects a man’s erection. In addition, heavy alcohol drinking is also linked with other conditions like high blood pressure and obesity, which can both lead to erectile dysfunction.
With the aforementioned causes of erectile dysfunction, a man should be able to manage the condition with lifestyle changes, along with a medical consult with a medical professional.