The Factors of Erectile Dysfunction

As mentioned in a previous article (“The physical biology of Erections”), erections are brought about by the interplay of multiple factors and systems within the body. This co-ordination needs a highly refined and perfectly tempered system of signaling and control – a breakdown in any part of the system could potentially lead to impaired erectile function. We’ll discuss causes and availability of various male enhancement solutions on the market.

The causes of erectile dysfunction (ED) can be biological and/or psychological in origin[1] [2]; however, due to the complexity of the situation, no one is as yet 100% clear as to why ED develops. What we do have in the scientific literature is a clear description of correlations. Thus, these correlations are all good contenders (so to speak) for being contributory causes of ED. In other words, these are the factors (either alone or in some combination) that are most likely to lead to impotence. The main research findings on these correlative factors are mentioned below:[3]

Erectile dysfunction may be caused by:

  • Some underlying cardiovascular disease (CVD).
  • A study done in 2012 showed that as many as 80% of all erectile dysfunction cases are linked to some form of CVD. [4]
  • There is good evidence that links hypertension (high blood pressure) and atherosclerosis (a disease affecting arteries) to erectile dysfunction.[5] [6]
  • Age related physical decline.
  • There is a correlation between age-related hormonal changes [viz. changes in testosterone and dehyrdoepiandrosterone (DHEA)] and the incidence of erectile dysfunction.[7] [8] [9]
  • Fibrosis and age-related deterioration of the connective tissues in the penis are correlated with the incidence of erectile dysfunction.[10]
  • Diabetes.
  • Diabetic neuropathy (damage to nerves) and diabetic-linked abnormalities in blood flow are linked to erectile dysfunction.[11]

Common pharmaceutical drugs.

  • Especially those that are often used to treat various chronic lifestyle and degenerative disorders can also negatively impact on the body’s ability to induce an erection.
  • Typical examples of medications that can prevent or impair erections are tricyclic antidepressants, antihistamines (used for hay-fever etc.), benzodiazepines (tranquilizers) and many others.[12] [13]
  • Psychological factors.
  • Depression, low self-esteem, depression and anxiety are all correlated with male impotence.[14] [15]
  • Intermittent erectile dysfunction in younger men has been linked to predominantly the psychological factors mentioned above.[16]
  • In older men, erectile dysfunction is usually due to a combination of both biological and psychological factors.[17]

 

Psychological factors are present in almost every case of impotence. But, the question that must always be answered is whether these factors are symptoms of not being able to achieve an erection, or whether they cause the impotence in the first place? Impotence can itself lead to feelings of low self-esteem, inadequacy and emotional conflict within relationships, whilst on the other hand, depression, poor self-esteem, stress and anxiety might be able to independently impair the process of erection too.

If one does feel psychologically out of balance because of impotence then these very same induced psychological factors may further impair one’s future erections – a catch-22 cycle that can render the treatments for impotence…impotent; This situation is not uncommon in the scientific literature. [18]

Our takeaway from this brief article is to understand and come to know the factors associated with ED. Remember that the issue is complex, multi-layered and important to those who struggle with it. Both biological and psychological factors are at play and successful interventions to remedy the situation need to take account of the truth of the relevant case at hand in any arising instance of impotence. Although far too brief, I hope this short article may contribute to the enhancement of men everywhere by shedding light on the nature of the issue at hand.

[1] Heidelbaugh JJ. Management of erectile dysfunction. Am Fam Physician. 2010;81(3):305-312.

[2] Ritchie R, Sullivan M. Endothelins& erectile dysfunction. Pharmacol Res. 2011;63(6):496-501.

[3] McVary KT. Clinical practice.Erectile dysfunction.The New England journal of medicine. 2007;357(24):2472-2481

[4] Paroni R, Barassi A, Ciociola F, et al. Asymmetric dimethylarginine (ADMA), symmetric dimethylarginine (SDMA) and L-arginine in patients with arteriogenic and non-arteriogenic erectile dysfunction. Int J Androl. 2012;20(10):1365-2605.

[5] Kolodny L. (2011) Chapter 17: Men’s Health: Erectile Dysfunction (pg. 971). In: Bope E., Kellerman R. (Eds.), Conn’s Current Therapy (1st ed). Saunders, An Imprint of Elsevier.

[6] Sadeghi-Nejad H, Brison D, Dogra V. Male Erectile Dysfunction. Ultrasound Clinics. 2007;2(1):57-71

[7] MacKay D. Nutrients and botanicals for erectile dysfunction: examining the evidence. Altern Med Rev. 2004;9(1):4-16.

[8] Kolodny L. (2011) Chapter 17: Men’s Health: Erectile Dysfunction (pg. 971). In: Bope E., Kellerman R. (Eds.), Conn’s Current Therapy (1st ed). Saunders, An Imprint of Elsevier.

[9] Morales A. Androgens are fundamental in the maintenance of male sexual health. CurrUrol Rep. 2011;12(6):453-460.

[10] Sadeghi-Nejad H, Brison D, Dogra V. Male Erectile Dysfunction. Ultrasound Clinics. 2007;2(1):57-71

[11] Ginsberg TB. Male sexuality.ClinGeriatr Med. 2010;26(2):185-195.

[12] Fortney L. (2012) Chapter 60: Erectile Dysfunction (pg 560). In: Rakel D. (Ed.), Integrative Medicine (3rd ed). Saunders, An Imprint of Elsevier.

[13] Heidelbaugh JJ. Management of erectile dysfunction. Am Fam Physician. 2010;81(3):305-312.

[14] National Institutes of Health; Impotence. NIH Consens Statement. 1992;10(4):1- 33.

[15] Ginsberg TB. Male sexuality. Clin Geriatric Med. 2010;26(2):185-195.

[16] Ibid

[17] Ibid

[18] Ibid