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Erectile dysfunction, also known as impotence, is the regular or repeated inability to get or maintain an erection during sexual activity. An erection is the hydraulic effect of blood entering the penis and being retained in the sponge-like tissues, most often initiated as a result of sexual arousal. If you’ve been struggling to get an erection, or find that you can’t maintain one long enough to perform sexually then you could be one of the many men who suffer with erectile dysfunction. There are a variety of things that could be causing your erectile problems, both physical and psychological

Physical causes

Approximately eight out of ten cases of erectile dysfunction are caused by one of the following physical causes:

  • Reduced blood flow to the penis – This is the most common cause of impotence in men over the age of 40. The arteries that take blood to the penis can become narrowed due to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, and ageing, resulting in not enough blood getting to the penis to cause an erection.
  • Diseases affecting the nerves – Conditions such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, or stroke can all affect the nerves that go to the penis. Erections are caused when sexual arousal occurs and the brain tells the penis to fill with blood; when the nerve signals are interrupted, the message can’t reach the penis.
  • Diabetes – This is one of the most common causes of erectile dysfunction. Diabetes can affect both the blood vessels and the nerves, therefore interfering with the signals from the brain as well as preventing adequate blood flow from reaching the penis.
  • Hormonal causes – Low levels of the male sex hormone testosterone can affect a man’s ability to obtain and maintain an erection. Low testosterone levels also lead to a loss of libido and changes in mood.
  • Injury to the nerves – If the nerves that lead to the penis become damaged then the signals of sexual arousal cannot be properly transmitted. Spinal injury, fractured pelvis, and radiotherapy to the genital area can all potentially cause nerve damage.
  • Side effects of medication – Certain medications such as antidepressants, beta-blockers, and diuretics can produce side effects that include erectile dysfunction. If you’re concerned, speak to your GP and they may be able to try you on a different brand of your meds.
  • Cycling – Erectile dysfunction after long-distance cycling is fairly common due to the pressure on the nerves going to the penis caused by sitting on the saddle for long periods of time.
  • Lifestyle – Smoking, excess alcohol, and drug abuse can all contribute to erectile problems. If you’re a heavy smoker or drinker then cutting it out could improve things, but speak to your doctor first.

Psychological causes

If your erectile dysfunction is sporadic and doesn’t happen every time then it may be caused by something psychological rather than physical:

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Relationship difficulties

You may find that you’re able to get an erection for masturbation purposes, but when it comes to sex with your partner you’re unable to get aroused. Relationship problems such as infidelity, loss of trust, previous sexual abuse etc can affect your ability to be intimate with your partner.

Any sort of stress in your life, such as moving house, unemployment, trying for a baby without success, can knock your confidence both in and out of the bedroom. The best way to deal with it is to communicate with your partner, and perhaps seek help from a counsellor if things become too much.

Here at TCM HealthCare we use a combination of tailor-made Chinese herbal medication and acupuncture to help couples to overcome a variety of sexual and fertility problems. Our treatment has been proven effective at treating stress and anxiety by rebalancing the flow of energy through the body. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us to find out more.

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