For men dealing with impotence, talking about the problem is likely the last thing they want to do.
Sexual health is more than the ability to enjoy sexuality throughout our lives, it’s a huge part of a man’s physical and emotional well-being.
“It can often have implications to who we are as men, and not seeking a solution can have a severe impact on our confidence and our lives..”
Having trouble achieving an erection from time to time is common, and not necessarily a cause for concern. However, if the issue is persistent then it is recommended that you talk with a doctor about what you’re going through.
Aside from all the ways that poor sexual health can affect a man’s personal life, problems with erections can also be a warning sign of some even more serious health conditions, including heart disease.
“Over half of men in America will experience impotence in their lifetime..”
Impotence is a sexual health condition that consistently prevents men from achieving or maintaining an erection. It is estimated that over half of all men ages 40-70 will experience some form of impotence in their lifetime. Beyond that, the risk of being affected only increases with age.
“The largest sexual organ a man has is his mind..”
In order to achieve an erection, a man’s body must first go through what is commonly referred to as the “excitement phase”. During this process a man is mentally stimulated, sparking a complex reaction involving the brain, hormones, emotions, muscles, nerves, and blood vessels throughout the body resulting in an erection. We commonly refer to this as feeling “turned on”.
Though the end result is an erection, that process starts in the mind, and this inter-connectivity of so many functions along the way can often make self-diagnosis near impossible.
“This is why it is so important to talk with a physician to find an answer..”
Performance anxiety is a common example of how a man’s brain can prevent him from achieving and maintaining an erection. If a man wasn’t able to achieve an erection in a past sexual encounter, persistent fear of the problem occurring in the future can complicate intimacy with a partner.
Men with impotence related to performance anxiety have little to no problems maintaining an erection while masturbating or during sleep, but still endure the issue when with someone else.
“Depression, stress, and relationship issues can be both a cause and a result of male impotence..”
Depression and anxiety have been linked to an increased risk of impotence. This cycle can deepen relationship issues, stress, anxiety, poor self-esteem, and even an inability for conception.
“The most common form of Impotence is Erectile Dysfunction, affecting some 30 million men in America alone..”
Experiencing trouble achieving an erection, as well as reduced sexual desire is known as Erectile Dysfunction, or ED.
As men age, a decrease in the body’s natural Nitric Oxide production has been noted as one of the most common physical causes of erectile dysfunction.
Men who drink excessively, or have a smoking habit may find it more difficult to get or maintain an erection. Also men taking daily or long-term medications can have unwanted sexual side effects, as ED is a noted side-effect of many high blood pressure medications and statin drugs.
Medications such as beta-blockers, CNS depressants or stimulants, selective serotonin inhibitors, synthetic hormones, and alpha-adrenergic blockers have all been linked to ED.
“In some cases, Erectile Dysfunction can also be an early warning sign of a more serious and looming health risk..”
Heart disease, partially-blocked blood vessels, high cholesterol or blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity have all been linked as possible cause of ED.
Diabetes is an endocrine disease that may cause a man to experience impotence by affecting the body’s ability to utilize the hormone insulin. The resulting nerve damage can lessen penis sensations, impair blood flow, and affect hormone levels.
Men experiencing cardiac related conditions affecting the heart’s ability to pump blood can also be affected by ED. Without proper blood pressure and blood flow to the penis, a man can find it quite difficult to achieve an erection.
A more severe illness such as Parkinson’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Peyronie’s Disease, and Metabolic Syndrome (a condition which involves increased blood pressure, high insulin levels, high cholesterol, and accumulating fat around the waist) all have ties to erectile dysfunction as well.
In some cases, an enlarged prostate or a resulting complication from a previous pelvic surgery can cause ED.
“So is there anything I can do to prevent ED?”
Though sometimes to limited effect, there are measures a man can take to prevent or manage some sexual health conditions. Exercising regularly, reducing stress, and seeking help with any existing medical complications are all potential ways to address a problem with ED.
However, as previously stated it is crucial to speak with a doctor if erectile dysfunction has been a part of your life consistently for any length of time. Having someone with expertise address the issue is oftentimes the fastest way to fixing the problem and taking your life back.
“What most men don’t know is that their impotence may not be ED at all, but instead a side effect of low testosterone..”
Testosterone is the hormone found in men crucial for building muscle and fueling a healthy sex drive. Good levels of testosterone put a man’s body in a muscle building state referred to as “anabolic”, efficiently assembling proteins and building lean muscle mass effectively.
“When testosterone drops, your body begins to break down that protein for fuel instead of building it up..”
This can lead to atrophy in the tissues making up the penis, scrotum, and testicles, causing them to shrivel. In fact, the most common side effect of “low T “is an ailing or slow libido.
Testosterone fits into hormone receptors in the brain, producing the nitric-oxide that ignites the reaction of becoming “turned on”. Without this crucial step in the arousal process, low T can prevent a man from achieving an erection without having anything to do with his “plumbing”.
Testosterone also plays a part in the production of semen, the fluid aiding in the motility of sperm. Men with low T also experience a decrease in semen volume during ejaculation.
Beyond sex, testosterone is responsible for a man’s muscle and hair production.
“Men with low T also report a decrease in energy levels..”
A recent study found that 23% of men newly diagnosed for low T also met the criteria for clinical depression as well.
“We all know how hard it can be to talk about impotence..”
If you are experiencing issues with impotence, it can be difficult to speak openly with a physician about the issue, or even admit that there is a problem to begin with.
Preparing ahead of time can ease some of the stress that goes along with that. Keeping track of your symptoms (including a timeline of when the problem began/how long it has persisted) or making a list of any medications you are on can help facilitate the conversation.
Writing out any specific questions that you might have can make it easier to feel less anxious about talking with a doctor.