1. People & Relationships

What Causes Impotence and Erectile Dysfunction?

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Erectile dysfunction, also called impotence, is defined as a man’s inability to get an erection or maintain it long enough to have sex with a partner. For some men, impotence means they are unable to ejaculate during sex.

Erectile dysfunction or impotence happens to most men at one time or another, but studies indicate that erectile dysfunction is more common in older men, so it is often associated with the aging process in men.

Occasional impotence is often not seen as a problem, but when impotence continues for awhile, it can bring on great emotional distress for both the man and his partner.

Common Causes of Impotence or Erectile Dysfunction
Erectile dysfunction can be caused by emotional problems:

  • Worry
  • Fear
  • Stress
  • Anger
  • Depression
  • Lack of interest in sex, or in the sexual partner

Erectile dysfunction can also have physical causes:

  • Reduced testosterone level, which can be treated with hormone therapy
  • A side-effect from some medications, including meds for depression, heart disease, high blood pressure and epilepsy
  • An injury to the groin, or nerve damage
  • Illnesses including kidney or heart disease, or diabetes, can cause erectile dysfunction
  • A reduction in blood flow to the penis, common in men who have hardening of the arteries
  • Overuse or abuse of drugs including alcohol, tobacco and recreational drugs
  • A possible side-effect of some medical procedures, including prostate or urinary tract surgery

For more information, see How Are Impotence and Erectile Dysfunction Diagnosed?

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