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Getting Help for Impotence

While nearly all American men experience occasional impotence, millions suffer from chronic impotence. But despite its prevalence, the condition, also called erectile dysfunction, is treatable in most cases.

Many cases of impotence are the result of physical causes, such as problems with circulation or nerves. Physical causes must be ruled out before impotence is blamed on psychological causes. It can also be a result of a more serious medical problem, such as arteriosclerosis, cardiovascular disease, or diabetes.

Some causes

These are some other causes of impotence:

  • Prostate cancer surgery, which can affect nerves which control erection

  • Hormonal dysfunction or low testosterone

  • Prescription medications for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, depression, and other conditions

  • Heavy smoking, alcohol, or illegal drug use

  • An accident or injury to the penis

  • Unrecognized psychological problems, such as depression, stress, or anger

  • Sickle cell anemia

The likelihood of impotence increases with age, but the condition is not an inevitable result of aging

Treatment options

Several treatment options are available. Your health and the cause of impotence will determine the right one for you. Here are some possible options:

  • When an underlying condition has been discovered, treating it may also treat impotence.

  • Oral medications, such as Viagra, Levitra, and Cialis, which control the flow of blood to and from the penis. Because of side effects, these medications aren't for everyone and they should only be taken under supervision of a physician.

  • Self-injection therapy, which uses a tiny hypodermic needle to inject medication into the side of the penis. The drug relaxes the smooth muscle tissue of the penis, allowing blood to flow into the organ, thus creating an erection.

  • Vacuum therapy, which works by placing a cylinder with an attached pump over the penis. The pump creates a vacuum, drawing blood into the penis.

  • Prosthetic implants, which can be inflexible and bendable or are hydraulic devices that are surgically implanted into the penis and have tubing that connects to a reservoir and pump to allow the device to be inflated or deflated on demand.

  • Vascular surgery to repair narrow and/or blocked arteries or leaky veins which don't allow an erection to be sustained.

  • Psychotherapy that addresses the issues that accompany impotence. Counseling can be helpful in conjunction with medical treatment if it's provided by a therapist who has experience in this area.

Getting help

Impotence is underdiagnosed because men are embarrassed or reluctant to discuss sexual problems with their doctor. 

If you are experiencing impotence, there's a good chance you can be successfully treated. You owe it to yourself and your partner to discuss your condition with your family doctor or urologist.