What is it?
Impotence, or erectile dysfunction to give it its proper name, means that a man's erection does not stay hard enough for long enough for him to have satisfactory sex. Men of any age might be affected although it becomes more likely with age. A staggering one in ten men in Canada is affected so although they may feel and often are alone, in reality they're not.
Not enough or nothing, which is the problem. A vicious cycle starts whereby the more a man worries about the problem the less likely an erection is to happen, and so on. Relationships are harmed, sometimes destroyed with each partner thinking it's their fault.
Why does it happen?
Temporary failure of the erection, such as in the case of 'brewers droop' after drinking too much alcohol, is common. Being over-tired or over-stressed can also cause temporary inaction. Recreational drug use, for example cannabis, can cause temporary and chronic impotence.
For around 70 - 80% of men who consistently can't get it up the cause is physical. A shortage of blood to the penis caused by narrowed blood vessels is commonly responsible and is usually an effect of diabetes or high blood pressure.
Accidents or injuries that damage the nerves to the penis, or drug side effects, may also be the culprit.
Can I stop it?
Not smoking, eating a healthy diet, not over-doing it with the booze, taking regular exercise, getting enough sleep and rest, and keeping stress levels to a minimum will help prevent the damage to the blood vessels occurring in the first place. Talking to your partner and seeking help from the doctor will help you overcome the problem.
Should I see doctor?
Yes! Visiting the doctor about personal problems seems to be a stumbling block for many men. The doctor is there to do a job and your health is his concern. Don't think that being at the doctor’s means everyone will know why you are there - they won't.
Many treatments are available to help men get their erections and sex life back. Moreover, if high blood pressure or diabetes, for example, should be the cause then getting them treated will help to prevent matters getting worse and other problems from arising.
It may be as simple as changing a medicine whose side effects are responsible. Addressing any underlying stresses and talking with your partner is essential.
The list of treatments has lengthened over the last few years:
Implants - are surgically implanted in the penis and are semi-rigid rods or are devices that can be inflated when the moment arrives.
Vacuum pump devices - the first one was apparently invented by an American mechanic in his garage whilst he played around with a tire pump.
Drug therapy - this can come in injection, intra-urethral pellet, and most recently tablet forms.
Natural remedies - including ginkgo biloba, ginseng, muira puama. Patients should be aware that the efficacy of these herbs is unproved. They are mentioned here due to a significant amount of historical evidence that they have helped men with erection difficulty.
This material is intended for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for the medical advice of your doctor or any other health care professional. Always consult with your physician if you are in any way concerned about your health.
Revised May 30 2002
© 2002 SLPM Self care Ltd.