• Conditions InDepth: Erectile Dysfunction (Impotence)

    Erectile dysfunction is the inability to attain or maintain an erection of the penis that is firm enough for penetration during sexual intercourse. The condition is also be called impotence. To initiate and maintain an erection, the penis must fill with blood. Nerve signals stimulate this blood fill. The nerves prompt certain blood vessels in the penis to expand so blood can fill it. Meanwhile, other blood vessels constrict, trapping blood inside.
    Male Genitourinary System
    IMAGE
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.
    The following factors can cause erectile dysfunction:
    Venous Leak: Veins are compressed when blood fills the penis. This will help trap the blood in the penis. If these veins are not fully compressed blood can leave the penis. The loss of blood in the penis will make it difficult to reach or keep an erection. The compression of the veins may not occur or be weaker than it should if the blood vessels that are supposed to fill, do not fill enough. Blood vessels may not fill enough because of injury or disease.
    Neurovascular Function: Erection cannot be attained if nerve signals do not prompt blood vessels to do their job or if blood flow to the penis is reduced. Nerve problems can also diminish feeling in the penis, resulting in impotence.
    Many medications can cause erectile dysfunction by impairing either vascular or nerve function.
    Medical conditions that can lead to neurovascular dysfunction include:
    • Diabetes —can interfere with nerve signals
    • Arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries)—can reduce blood flow
    • Peripheral neuropathy , spinal cord injury, and surgery—can affect nerve function
    Psychological Factors: Psychological factors account for 10%-15% of erectile dysfunction cases. The brain initiates many of the nerve signals required for a successful erection. Problems in your relationship, feelings of guilt associated with sex, depression , anxiety , and stress can all lead to erectile dysfunction
    An estimated 25-30 million US men have erectile dysfunction. Erectile dysfunction increases with age, affecting about 20% of men aged 20 and older and 78% of men aged 75 and older.
    What are the risk factors for erectile dysfunction?What are the symptoms of erectile dysfunction?How is erectile dysfunction diagnosed?What are the treatments for erectile dysfunction?Are there screening tests for erectile dysfunction?How can I reduce my risk of erectile dysfunction?What questions should I ask my doctor?What is it like to live with erectile dysfunction?Where can I get more information about erectile dysfunction?

    References

    Erectile dysfunction. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php . Updated July 25, 2012. Accessed September 14, 2012.

    Guay AT, Spark RF, Bansal S, et al. American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists medical guidelines for clinical practice for the evaluation and treatment of male sexual dysfunction: a couple’s problem. 2003 update. Endocr Pract. 2003;9:77-95.

    Erectile dysfunction. National Institute of Diabetes & Digestive & Kidney Diseases website. Available at: http://kidney.niddk.nih.gov/kudiseases/pubs/ED/index.aspx . Updated March 28, 2012. Accessed September 14, 2012.

    Erectile Dysfunction. American Urological Association Foundation website. Available at: http://www.urologyhealth.org/content/moreinfo/ed-factsheet.pdf . Updated 2009. Accessed September 14, 2012.

    Sivalingam S, Hashim H, Schwaibold H. An overview of the diagnosis and treatment of erectile dysfunction. Drugs. 2006;66:2339-2355.

    Webber R. Erectile dysfunction. Clinical Evidence. 2005;13:1120-1127.

    Revision Information

  • Join WellZones today.

    Make a Change For LifeLearn more

    Wellmont LiveWell is creating a new tradition of wellness in the mountains by providing individuals with tools and encouragement to live healthier lifestyles.

  • HeartSHAPE Spotlight

    At risk for a heart attack? Learn more

    Fight heart disease early and prevent heart attacks with HeartSHAPE® - a painless, non-invasive test that takes pictures of your heart to scan for early-stage coronary disease.

  • Calories and Energy Needs

    Calorie NeedsLearn more

    How many calories do you need to eat each day to maintain your weight and fuel your physical activity? Enter a few of your stats into this calculator to find out.

  • Ideal Body Weight

    Ideal Body WeightLearn more

    Using body mass index as a reference, this calculator determines your ideal body weight range. All you need to do is enter your height.

  • Body Mass Index

    Body Mass IndexLearn more

    This tool considers your height and weight to assess your weight status.


  • Can we help answer your questions?

    Wellmont Nurse Connection is your resource for valuable health information any time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Speak to a Nurse any time, day or night, at (423) 723-6877 or toll-free at 1-877-230-NURSE.