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Sexual problems


Impotence and Erectile Failure

What is impotence?

Impotence is the failure to achieve an erection, a condition faced by an increasing number of men. In order to diagnose the potential problems that lead to this condition, it is useful to describe what conditions must be present for erection to take place. The first component you need to achieve an erection is a normal, intact male sexual organ. Secondly, a normal amount of circulating hormones is necessary. Third, a man must have an intact nerve supply and blood flow to the male sex organ. Finally, normal erections require a healthy psychological response to the arousing stimuli, coupled with a relaxed state of mind. A failure of one or more of these components is the most likely the cause of erectile failure, however the most common causes are psychological. Impotence is often curable –consult a sex therapist to determine the right treatment for you.

  What causes erectile faliure?

Psychological causes

Psychological causes of erectile failure are often mistaken for physiological disorders. By far, the most likely causes of erectile failure are related to mental or emotional problems. The most common of these is performance anxiety. When a man feels pressured to achieve an erection (often spurred by occasional difficulty), he will commonly become anxious and nervous when in a sexually demanding situation. Anxiety conflicts with the ability to achieve an erection, and thus failure results, perpetuating further anxiety. If you still find it impossible to break free of this cycle, it is strongly recommended you find a sex therapist to help you and your partner learn how to overcome this reversible problem. Ask your physician for a referral.

Neurological disorders

Any neurological disorder which interrupts the nerve supply to the erectile tissues will generally cause an erectile failure. There is little known about the nerves which cause erection and therefore it is difficult to predict how damage to certain nerves will affect erectile capacity.

Blood Flow

If the blood flow to the genitals is halted or impeded, then erectile failure may occur. Vascular disease can cause the blockage or constriction of the arteries in the pelvis and/or penis. The blood that normally rushes to the penis is partially stopped. Vascular disease may also be the cause of leaks in the arteries or veins; this too can cause an erectile problem.

Peyronie's disease

Peyronie's disease is a fibrous scarring which develops from an inflammatory process. The cause of this process is not yet understood. When an erection does occur, there is a bending of the penis which can often be quite painful. It may interfere with ejaculation and in some cases erectile capacity. There is an effective treatment available if the bending is only to one side. This is called Nesbit's operation. Please consult your physician to determine whether Nesbit's operation will be effective for you.


Priapism is a condition in which a man develops a permanent erection. All of the causes of this condition are not yet known, however some potential contributors are diseases which thicken the blood and certain medications used improperly for achieving an erection. Priapism is an uncomfortable, sometimes painful condition which often requires surgery to relieve. If your erection lasts for an unusual period of time, go directly to the emergency department of the nearest hospital. Although this can be embarrassing, waiting to long to correct priapism can result in permanent damage.

Hormonal Deficiency

Hormonal deficiency is another potential cause for erectile failure. In younger men, this deficiency is typically caused by psychological rather than physical failure to produce androgen. In later life, the pituitary gland may fail to produce the stimulating hormones that encourage testosterone output by the testicles. Furthermore, there may be associated failure of thyroid and adrenal gland hormone production. This may cause impotence and low level of sexual interest. This hormone deficiency in older men can normally be corrected by hormone injections.


Infection of the penis and surrounding tissues can limit a man's ability to achieve erection. These infections are more pronounced in older men but have caused temporary impotency for men of all ages. A viral infection of the testes may cause discomfort and also prevent a successful erection. As well, bacteria can inflame the urethra and surrounding skin which can interfere with an erection. Finally, the prostate gland can become inflamed during an infection, which causes a lot of pain in the genital region. The prostate can be treated by massage and antibiotics in cases of infection and inflammation. Discomfort in the prostate area may be indicative of more serious illnesses; consult your physician immediately.


Diabetes can also cause erectile failure. Impotence may be closely associated with a high blood sugar level, and if this level is lowered, the patient will see an improvement in sexual potency.

  Is there a cure for impotence?

Where impotence is a psychological phenomenon such as stress or anxiety, a sex therapist can help you overcome the problems particular to your case. Impotence that is caused by physiological factors can be treated with Viagra. See your doctor about all the options.

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