Impotence (Erectile dysfunction) is defined as consistent inability to get and keep an erection sufficiently firm to allow sexual intercourse.

Male sexual arousal is a complex process that involves the brain, hormones, emotions, nerves, muscles and blood vessels. Impotence can result from a problem with any of these. Likewise, stress and mental health concerns can cause or worsen erectile dysfunction.

Sometimes a combination of physical and psychological issues causes erectile dysfunction. For instance, a minor physical condition that slows your sexual response might cause anxiety about maintaining an erection. The resulting anxiety can lead to or worsen erectile dysfunction.

Physical causes of erectile dysfunction include;

  • Heart disease
  • Clogged blood vessels by fat derived products (atherosclerosis)
  • High blood cholesterol levels
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Diseases of the nervous system related to age e.g. Parkinson’s disease
  • Development of scar tissue inside the penis (Peyronie’s disease)
  • Certain drugs like some used in high blood pressure or heart attack
  • Excessive alcohol or tobacco use
  • Trauma to the lower back bone with damage of spinal cord or nerves
  • Sleep disorders
  • Surgery complications involving injuries that affect the pelvic area or spinal cord

Psychological causes of erectile dysfunction include;

  • Depression, anxiety or other mental health conditions
  • Mental Stress
  • Fear of poor sexual performance

As one gets older, erections might take longer to develop and might not be as firm. You might need more direct touch to your penis to get and keep an erection. This might indicate underlying health conditions or be a result of taking medications

Since impotence is caused or worsened by lifestyle choices. Here are some steps that might help:

  • If you smoke or take excess alcohol, quit
  • Lose excess weight.
  • Include physical activity in your daily routine to help reduce stress
  • Cut down excessive intake of junk foods and eat more fresh vegetables
  • If caused by some medicines, see your doctor for dosage adjustment or other alternatives
  • If you’re experiencing serious mental issues, see a psychiatrist or counselor to help you out
  • Good communication between partners about each other’s expectations or concerns is important

Certain medicines like Sildenafil (Viagra) are available for treatment of impotence; however, one needs to avoid self-medication because this drug can cause other serious medical complications or even death. You need to be assessed by a doctor to check if you are fit for the drug. In fact before prescribing drugs, life style modifications or treatment of the suspected cause are tried out first. Surgery may also be carried out if the cause is due to anatomical disorders