Erectile Dysfunction is a clinical condition that makes it difficult or impossible for men to have an erection hence it hinders sexual intercourse. Erectile dysfunction can be caused by a variety of factors including hormonal, neurogenic and cavernosal (factors affecting the spongy tissues of the penis, scientifically known as the corpus cavernosum). The human body is an interconnected system of organs and how one organ functions may have adverse effects on other organs. Therefore, erectile dysfunction is not necessarily caused by problems in the male reproductive system. Rather, it can be as a result from failures in other systems such as the cardiovascular system.
How Does Erectile Dysfunction Arise?
The process of getting an erection is a complex process that involves stimulation of the brain by triggers related to sex such as touch and sight. Nerves are excited and neurotransmitters are produced to increase blood flow to the penis. Hormones come in by increasing the brain and body’s susceptibility to stimulation as they control a man’s sex drive. Erectile dysfunction occurs when this process is interfered with either directly or indirectly. There are various causes of erectile dysfunction as follows:
What are the Physical Causes of Erectile Dysfunction?
- Hormone Insufficiency
Testosterone is the hormone responsible for a man’s sex drive and libido. When it is insufficient, men are less likely to be sexually stimulated. And because sexual stimulation results in penile erection in men, lack of stimulation may cause erectile dysfunction.
Sometimes medication may results in erectile dysfunction as a side effect. Such drugs include antidepressants and diuretics among others. If you notice the drug you are taking is negatively affecting your sex drive, do not stop taking it until you have consulted your physician.
Cycling has often been associated with erectile dysfunction. This is because cycling compresses nerves in the penile region. This in turn reduces penile sensitivity.
Accidents, particularly road carnage, may result in severe injury to the reproductive organs, arteries or even nerves around the region. This can lead chronic erectile dysfunction but the situation can be controlled and even cured through rehabilitation and surgery.
Injury of nerves during surgery can result in erectile dysfunction. This is exceedingly common in prostatectomy and vasectomy procedures.
Aging may lead to erectile dysfunction as it lowers hormone production and the body’s overall wellbeing. Typically, fifty percent of men above fifty years suffer from erectile dysfunction. However, the severity varies as some suffer only a mild form of erectile dysfunction.
What Neurogenic Disorders are Associated with Erectile Dysfunction?
Neurogenic disorders are medical conditions that are associated with or are as a result of abnormality in the nervous system. Neurogenic disorders may affect sexual functions because sex organs require innervation for stimulation. The following are some of the neurogenic disorders associated with erectile dysfunction:
- Multiple Sclerosis
Up to seventy percent of men who suffer from multiple sclerosis also suffer from erectile dysfunction either as a symptom of the disease or as a side effect to drug therapy. Multiple sclerosis is a medical condition that affects the central nervous system and hinders proper transmission of nerve impulses. The disease often targets and affects various body systems, the reproductive system included.
- Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s disease, like multiple sclerosis, negatively affects transmission of nerve impulses. It is believed to reduce that production a dopamine, a neurotransmitter that is crucial to physical movement. One of the side effects of this condition is a diminished sex drive and erectile dysfunction.
- Spinal Cord Injury
Any injury that affects the lower back diminishes penile sensitivity. Spinal cord injury is attributed to erectile dysfunction because the nerves that innervate and stimulate the penis are often affected.
- Performance anxiety
- Mental disorders such as depression
- Excessive intake of alcohol
- High cholesterol intake
- Poor diet that may lead to obesity
- Lack of exercise
- Some studies suggest that arsenic poisoning as a result of drinking contaminated water can causes erectile dysfunction.
- Potassium deficiency has also been associated with erectile dysfunction as this mineral is essential in nerve impulse transmission.
- Poorly managed diabetes mellitus can lead to erectile dysfunction as a result of neuropathy.
What Cavernosal Disorders Associated with Erectile Dysfunction?
Cavernosal disorders are abnormalities involving the corpus cavernosum, that is, the spongy tissues of the penis that are involved in erecction. Peyronie’s disease is a cavernosal disorder that affects up to ten percent of men. It affects the connective tissue around the corpus cavernosum leading to abnormal penile curvature, erectile dysfunction and even painful sex. Some men manage to have a healthy sex life despite having the condition, but for most, there are treatment options available.
What are the Psychological Causes of Erectile Dysfunction?
Psychological problems can cause temporary erectile dysfunction by preventing mental stimulation as the brain may be too distracted sorting out other problems. These problems are often sorted out by relaxing, taking a break, counseling and using placebo treatment. Psychological problems that may cause erectile dysfunction include:
What Lifestyle Choices May Make One Susceptible to Erectile Dysfunction?
Lifestyle choices can lead to erectile dysfunction on the long run. This particularly involves what we eat, drink and our level of physical fitness. Lifestyle choices affect the health of our heart and overall wellbeing. For instance, eating the wrong foods can increase cholesterol levels which can lead to narrowing of arteries. Narrowing of arteries can negatively affect blood supply to various body organs including reproductive organs. Long time effects of poor lifestyle choices often leads to erectile dysfunction. These lifestyle choices include:
Other Causes of Erectile Dysfunction
All in all, erectile dysfunction can be caused by several factors, some of them preventable. To prevent being afflicted by this condition, knowledge on the various causes and cures as well as a healthy and stress free lifestyle is essential.