When Nature Needs Help
CAUSES AND SOLUTIONS
Did you know Smoking; excessive drinking and eating high-fat foods can all contribute to the occurrence of impotence. The information you'll find here could be very important, for both you and your partner. Impotence affects over 20 million men nationwide, but most of them don't see a doctor, because they think it's something they just have to live with. In fact, a doctor, regardless of cause, regardless of age, can treat most cases successfully.
Here we will dispel the myths, uncover interesting facts, and answer some of the most frequently asked questions about impotence. You'll also learn about proven treatment options for this condition. And if you've tried a particular treatment, we want to hear about your experience
CAUSES AND SOLUTIONS
Impotence affects about one out of every ten American men, yet many of them don't seek help because they're embarrassed, they think there's no solution or they believe the problem is "all in their minds." Unfortunately, these men are missing out on a wide variety of treatment options.
Impotence, the persistent inability to achieve and maintain an erection for intercourse, affects as many as 18 million men in the United States between the ages of 40 and 70. Until recently, doctors thought impotence was mainly rooted in psychological causes.
Now it is believed that 50 to 70 percent of all cases are caused by physical problems. Erection difficulties tend to increase with age, but that is not the only or even the most important factor. Your general physical and psychological health, as well as lifestyle habits and certain medications, can all cause impotence, but you don't have to live with this problem. In most cases, impotence can be successfully treated.
HOW DOES AN ERECTION OCCUR?
In order to get an erection, several parts of the body must work together. The brain sends a message of sexual arousal through the nervous system to the penis. This message causes the muscles along the penis to relax. At the same time, the artery to the penis dilates to twice its diameter, increasing the blood flow sixteen-fold, and the veins which carry blood away from the penis are blocked. As a result, the two spongy-tissue chambers in the shaft of the penis fill with blood and the penis becomes firm. A breakdown in any of these systems makes getting or keeping an erection difficult.
HOW IS IMPOTENCE DIAGNOSED?
Virtually all men occasionally fail to get an erection. That's normal. But if a man has trouble getting or maintaining an erection about 25 percent of the time, he should see an urologist. These physicians specialize in disorders of the kidneys, bladder, prostate, penis and urethra.
Usually, after asking questions about when and how the impotence developed, the urologist will give the patient a complete physical exam to determine if his hormone levels are normal and if the blood vessels, nerves and tissues of his penis are working properly. If this initial work-up doesn't pinpoint the cause of the problem, a nocturnal penile tumescence test can be done.
Men with no physical abnormalities almost invariably have nightly erections during sleep. The patient may spend a few nights in a sleep laboratory where a gauge that measures the frequency and duration of nocturnal erections is attached to the base of the penis. A home version of this, the snap-gauge test, can also be used. Before going to sleep, the patient attaches the gauge to the base of his penis. During the night, the gauge will break at different degrees of penile rigidity and show whether a partial or full erection has taken place during sleep. If nocturnal erections do not occur, the impotence is most likely physical.
Additional testing is then required to identify the precise cause of the problem.
TO HELP PREVENT IMPOTENCE
Limit the amount of fat and cholesterol in your diet
What Are the Physical Causes of Impotence?
Physical impotence occurs when there is a problem with any of the systems needed to get or maintain an erection. The good news is that potency can usually be restored when a man is treated for underlying medical conditions, when medications are adjusted or when lifestyle habits are changed.
Here are some of the top causes of impotence:
Hardening of the arteries can affect the artery leading to the penis so that it cannot dilate enough to deliver all the blood necessary for an erection. Impotence can also occur if the nerves that control blood flow to the penis are damaged.
One out of every four impotent men has diabetes, which can cause nerve deterioration (diabetic neuropathy).
Impotence may result if nerves or blood vessels that control the flow of blood to the penis are affected. In some cases, keeping the diet and blood sugar under control can decrease impotence. But permanent nerve damage can result in a chronic problem.
DISEASE OF THE NERVOUS SYSTEM
Some conditions, such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease and spinal cord injuries, can affect or cause impotence.
Surgery to remove cancer from the prostate, bladder, colon or rectal area can cause impotence if the nerves and blood vessels that control erections are damaged in the process of removing cancerous tissue.
Some prescription medications for high blood pressure, depression, spinal cord injury, diabetes and other conditions can cause temporary impotence by interfering with the nerve impulses or blood flow to the penis. Doctors may be able to adjust the dosage of a drug or change the medication to reverse or minimize the problem.
A recent study at the New England Research Institute in Watertown, Massachusetts, found that impotence was equally common among smokers and non-smokers in general. However, among men with certain health problems, those who smoked were much more likely to have potency problems. For example, 56 percent of smokers with heart disease were completely impotent compared with only 21 percent of non-smokers with the disease.
Excessive alcohol consumption disrupts hormone levels and can lead to nerve damage. This type of impotence may be reversible or permanent depending on the severity of the nerve damage. Some clinical studies suggest about 25 percent of all alcoholics become impotent -- even after they stop drinking.
Abnormal testosterone levels are rare, but they can cause impotence. In addition, other illnesses, such as kidney failure and liver disease, can disrupt the balance of hormones.
WHAT ARE THE PSYCHOLOGICAL CAUSES OF IMPOTENCE?
A man who is depressed, under stress, or worried about his "performance" during sex may not be able to have an erection. Qualified therapists or counselors who specialize in the treatment of sexual problems can often help diagnose and sort through these problems. Some impotence problems can be solved when a man understands the normal changes of aging and how to adapt to them. For example, as men get older they generally need more direct stimulation to achieve an erection.
They may also have less firm erections, take longer to ejaculate and need more time between erections.
Q: When should I see a doctor about impotence?
A: Most men experience impotence at some time in their lives as a result of stress, fatigue, or excessive alcohol consumption. This temporary impotence is generally no cause for serious concern. However, persistent impotence can often be a symptom of an underlying medical condition. So, if the situation persists or interferes with normal sexual activity, consult a physician who treats impotence frequently.
Q: I'm 72 years of age. Am I too old to benefit from today's treatments for impotence?
A: No. That's one of the biggest myths about impotence. With today's treatment options, you're never too old to enjoy the pleasures of sex. Almost any man can overcome impotence.
Q: I've read that impotence is often "just in a man's head." Is that true?
A: The fact is, clinical studies prove that up to 75% of impotence cases are physical in nature, not psychological. So it isn't "just in your head." Impotence is caused by a variety of reasons and can almost always be successfully treated by a doctor.
Q: What can a man do to reduce the risk of impotence?
A: Living a healthy life can be good for your sex life. Avoid cigarettes, eating high-fat foods, or drinking excessive alcohol, because they can significantly increase the likelihood for impotence. In some cases, impotence can be related to high blood pressure, diabetes, or other diseases. Visiting a doctor regularly will help you identify these problems.
Q: How can a couple work together to overcome impotence?
A: In order to appropriately treat impotence and strengthen a healthy and nurturing relationship, a couple needs to communicate openly and honestly with each other. Most importantly, a couple needs to confront any concerns they have about impotence by discussing their feelings and assuring each other that they still care. A couple needs to maintain this communication throughout the treatment process.
Q: I've tried one treatment for impotence, and it didn't work for me. Does that mean other
treatments won't work for me either?
A: Absolutely not. Impotence treatments work in different ways. If you're not happy with your current impotence treatment, there are a variety of treatment options you should consider. Remember, impotence can almost always be successfully treated no matter what your age or the cause of your impotence.