Impotence: Definition, Causes and Treatment

Impotence, otherwise known as erectile dysfunction(ED), is the lack of ability to achieve or keep an erection long enough whenever a man engages in a sexual activity.  Among the many health conditions that afflict men, erectile dysfunction is perhaps the worst.  Not only does it hinder them from having a fulfilling physical intimacy but it can be damaging to their self esteem.

It is said that a man is impotent if he cannot conceive or if he is having difficulties getting an erection.  There are men who can have an erection but are unable to maintain it.  Some become erect although not rigid, while some do not have an erection at all.  There are men who only experience this predicament when having sex with someone new or with someone they have been with in a long time.

Causes of Erectile Dysfunction

In the US alone, an estimated 20 million men are afflicted with erectile dysfunction and that it can happen to nearly half of all men from 40 to 70 years old.  Psychological factors and medical conditions can lead or contribute to erectile dysfunction.  In older men, it was found that more or less 60% of all cases were due to physical causes.

Diabetes, atherosclerosis, chronic alcoholism, kidney disease, multiple sclerosis, neurologic disease and vascular diseases are the common diseases that can cause impotence.  As per the National Institutes of Health (NIH), approximately 70% of the cases are because of the previously mentioned health conditions.  Hormonal imbalance, accidents, car crashes, skiing wipe-outs, are the leading causes of ED in younger men.  Atherosclerosis, a condition where the arteries are contracted, impedes the blood flow to the penis.  It is the leading cause of impotence in men 60 years and up.  If there is any damage to the connective tissue, the corpora cavernosa cannot fully expand which will result in ED.  

Neurological conditions, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and Peyronie’s disease can also cause impotence.  Men with diabetes are high risk to diabetic neuropathy and atherosclerosis which make them susceptible to impotence.  It was found that 35% to 50% of them experience erectile dysfunction.  Some blood pressure medications, antianxiety drugs, tranquilizers, antidepressants, antiulcer drugs, antihistamines, antifungals, antipsychotics, smoking, drugs and substance abuse can affect erectile function.  Lastly, psychological problems, which include stress, guilt, or anxiety, and low levels of testosterone can result in erectile dysfunction.

Erectile Dysfunction has many causes and different stages.  No matter what the case is, nearly all men have erection problems at some point.  Men should not despair though.  Erectile dysfunction can improve with impotence drugs, therapy or surgery if necessary.  Natural remedies for erectile dysfunction are also available for those who want a holistic approach.  There is no reason to be ashamed or go through it in silence.  Today, there are many ways to treat erectile dysfunction which will be explained in the subsequent section.  

Impotence drugs, Therapy and other Treatment

The inability to have and sustain an erection is not something to be concerned about except when it becomes a constant problem.  Erectile dysfunction can be treated using behaviour modification technique, impotence drugs, psychotherapy, blood vessel surgery, vacuum devices, and surgically implanted devices.

Behavior modification is an option if emotional issues account for the cause of impotence.   Whereas, therapy, non-medical and impotence drugs are used to restore sexual health if the cause of ED point to medical conditions.

Viagra or Sildenafil, also distributed as Revatio is primarily used as a treatment for pulmonary arterial hypertension as well as boost exercise capability in athletes.  It is wrong to take this pill everyday under the assumption that daily use will cure ED.  Viagra should only be taken once daily without food.  It is advisable not to use Viagra with nitrates.  Nitrates are widely-used for cardiovascular problems and chest pain.  Take Viagra an hour to 4 hours before having sex.  The pill works about an hour after and erection will happen when stimulated.  Men with heart problems and low blood pressure should be thoroughly checked by a physician before using this drug.

Often sold as Adcirca, Cialis is used for pulmonary hypertension.  It can be consumed with or without food.  Like Viagra it should only be taken once a day and not to be used with nitrates either.  The advantage of this over its competition is that it can be taken as early as 36 hours before sexual activity.  Unlike its counterparts, Cialis can be taken up to 36 hours prior to anticipated sexual activity.  There should be an interval of 24 hours in between doses.

Another impotence drug available is Levitra, with the generic name Vardenafil.  Like its counterparts Viagra and Cialis, Levitra should not be used with nitrate-based drugs.  Levitra can be taken 30 minutes before having sex and without any food.

These impotence drugs should be taken with caution as it could cause complications and negative side effects.  For instance, they are not to be taken along with nitrate-based medicines as there is a risk of blood pressure dropping dangerously.  Usual side effects include headaches, diarrhea, flushing and stuffy nose.  Moreover, the labels of these drugs are being modified to include the acute optic nerve disorder, nonarteritic ischemic optic neuropathy as rare side effect. 

Above are three of the frequently used impotence drugs. All of them act by relaxing muscles in the penis and improving the blood flow. Viagra has been around the longest and Cialis holds the record for having 48 hours of potency.  These drugs are safe and identical in overall performance. Typical to all impotence drugs, anyone should get immediate medical help if the erection lasts more than 4 hours.  Other remedies for erectile dysfunction include medical procedures and therapy.  Impotence drugs can be taken orally, injected to the penis, or inserted to the male urethra and should only be used as prescribed by a doctor.

Natural Remedies for Erectile Dysfunction

Aside from impotence drugs, some men prefer to use natural remedies in treating erectile dysfunction.  Alternative remedies for this serious condition include dietary supplements, acupuncture and herbal solutions.  The use of herbs for treating bodily ailments and conditions began hundreds of years ago.  Chinese alternative medicine has probably the widest and longest experience in the use of herbal medicine.  However, there are also records of other races using natural medicine since ancient times.  Today, the effectiveness of these herbs is proven through modern medical studies and from testimonies of countless people who claim to have been cured of certain ailments after using them.  

Many types of herbs are used as natural remedies for erectile dysfunction.  One of the herbs that is believed to be effective in enhancing sexual performance and endurance is Coryanthe yohimbe.  It is also used in treating impotence brought about by old age and stress.   

Ginkgo biloba has been used since early times for medical reasons.  These days, it is among the top-selling herbs in the US. Ginkgo is used in treatment of various conditions including erectile dysfunction.  The herb is widely used however, because of numerous reports of bleeding with its use,  gingko should be taken with caution by patients with blood clotting disorders.

Asian ginseng is used as natural remedies for erectile dysfunction and other conditions.  Aside from boosting sex drive, ginseng can also improve male fertility.  

Maca root is a legendary natural enhancer passed on by the Incas.  Proving only that the popularity and efficiency of maca root can be traced more than 500 years ago.  It is known to enhance strength, libido and fertility.

Damiana is known as an aphrodisiac and for boosting sexual strength.  Its leaves are used for sexual stimulation, improved strength and impotence.  

For many years, Tongkat Ali has been used by Malaysian men to improve sexual desire, strength, sex drive and to cure erectile dysfunction by increasing testosterone.  Other herbs used for natural treatment of erectile dysfunction include true unicorn root, Tribulus terrestris, saw palmetto, Muira Palma and Fo-Ti.

The primary advantage of natural remedies for erectile dysfunction versus impotence drugs would be that they do not have negative effects.  The optimum benefit of these herbs can be achieved if they are used systematically for long a time.  However, their effectiveness can also be seen immediately when used as a sexual stimulant.  The kind of herb to use depends on several factors including discovering the cause of erection problems.  For example, one major cause of impotence is the impediment of the flow of blood to the penis, which results to weak and short-lived erections.  For this, the best herb to use is the Horny Goat Weed, a time-tested herb used in increasing libido and improving erectile function.  

Whether you choose impotence drugs or natural remedies for erectile dysfunction, remember to combine it with a healthy diet for it to be more effective.  Some changes to lifestyle might also be in order such as avoiding smoking, excessive alcohol, and high cholesterol.   But before you start using any of these natural remedies for erectile dysfunction, it is recommended that you talk to your physician first to avoid any health complications.