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Impotence and How to Treat It

By: Beth Morrisey MLIS - Updated: 13 Nov 2014 | comments*Discuss
 
Impotence Erectile Dysfunction Erection

Impotence, also known as erectile dysfunction, is an inability to achieve an erection suitable for satisfactory sexual intercourse. In the past the term "impotence" has been applied only to an inability to achieve any form of erection but today the phrase "erectile dysfunction" now tends to include an inability to achieve an erection suitable for penetration or an inability to sustain an erection during penetration as well. There are many causes of impotence and erectile dysfunction, and a variety of medical, psychological and surgical treatment options depending on the underlying cause. A number of aids exist which may help men suffering from impotence and erectile dysfunction as well.

Causes of Impotence and Erectile Dysfunction

There are both physical and psychological causes of impotence and erectile dysfunction. Physical causes can include complications of diabetes and smoking, side effects of alcohol or prescription medications, effects of illegal drugs, obesity, exhaustion, damage to the arteries bringing blood to the penis, high blood pressure, a venous leak in the penis, nervous system damage or disease, prostate problems, and/or hormone issues. Psychological causes can include anxiety about sexual performance, guilt, depression, relationship problems and confusion over sexual identity. If a man is able to achieve an erection in a non-sexual situation, such as first thing in the morning, or during masturbation, then it is more likely that the cause is at least partly psychological. It is also possible that impotence and erectile dysfunction may be the result of both physical and psychological causes.

Medical Treatment of Impotence and Erectile Dysfunction

Multiple medical options exist for treating physical causes of impotence and erectile dysfunction. For underlying conditions such as diabetes, treating this condition may help resolve erectile dysfunction problems. Similarly, ceasing smoking, drinking alcohol and taking drugs may help. There are also medications licensed specifically to help men achieve erections when sexually aroused. Sildenafil (Viagra), tadalafil (Cialis), vardenafil (Levitra) and apomorphine (Uprima) are all licensed in the UK to help treat impotence and erectile dysfunction. The first three work by increasing blood flow to the penis while apomorphine works by increasing the efficiency of the brain's communication to the nerves of the penis. Injections to the base of the penis and urethral medications which come in the form of small pellets inserted into the penis may also help men suffering from impotence and erectile dysfunction.

Psychological Treatment of Impotence and Erectile Dysfunction

Impotence and erectile dysfunction problems which stem from psychological causes may be treated with counselling. This may be individual counselling, group sessions or couples counselling/sex therapy. Even when impotence and erectile dysfunction is determined to have a psychological cause, medication may be prescribed in the short term to help a man achieve an erection before the benefits of counselling or therapy are felt.

Surgical Treatment of Impotence and Erectile Dysfunction

Surgical treatment of impotence and erectile dysfunction is relatively rare, but there are two surgical options which may be able to help. Men whose problems stem from a venous leak may benefit from surgery to repair the site of the leak. Other men may find benefit in the surgical insertion of internal splints or small rods into the penis. These are sometimes called penile prostheses. Some of these splints are highly sophisticated and can be inflated to achieve an erection while more basic splits are just rods which keep the penis rigid at all times and require the penis to be manually lifted into an upright position for sexual intercourse.

Aids for Impotence and Erectile Dysfunction

There are also aids which can help men suffering from impotence and erectile dysfunction achieve an erection. Probably the two most common aids are vacuum devices such as pumps which draw blood into the penis to achieve an erection, and rings or bands which are then be worn at the base of the penis to keep the erection for approximately 30 minutes. External splints may be able to better support a penis in an upright position during intercourse. Vibrators may also help men achieve orgasm, and some are built onto a ring so that they may be worn around the penis.

Impotence and Erectile Dysfunction Treatment and the NHS

Medical treatments for impotence and erectile dysfunction may be available on the NHS if these problems are due to recognised medical conditions such as diabetes or Parkinson's disease. If a specialist agrees that impotence and erectile dysfunction is causing a man severe distress then treatment may also be available on the NHS. Medical treatment is available by private prescription even when it is not available for free on the NHS.

Impotence and erectile dysfunction can be embarrassing for men of all ages. There are both physical and psychological causes of impotence and erectile dysfunction, and medical, psychological and surgical treatment options. Aids are also available to help men suffering from impotence and erectile dysfunction, and some treatments may be available on the NHS.

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