By Iván Ferrer Durbà BSc (biologist & science teacher).
Last Update: 12/30/2014

Erectile dysfunction, also incorrectly named impotency, is considered an illness that provokes the repeated incapacity to achieve or maintain an erection long enough as to have a satisfactory sexual relationship.

It’s also the total incapacity to achieve an erection or the tendency to have only brief erections. These variations difficult the tasks of defining it and calculating its incidence.

Male difficulties

The statistics change depending on the definition used. According to the interview of National Ambulatory Medical Attention, carried out in 1985 in the USA, 8 out of every 1,000 men suffered from erectile dysfunction. In 1999, the frequency had gradually multiplied by three to 22, theoretically due to the apparition of some treatments, such as vacuum devices, or medication, such as Viagra, which made that erectile dysfunction begun to be accepted.

Causes of erectile dysfunction

Due to the fact that a series of events is needed, erectile dysfunction can appear when any of these events is interrupted. The complete sequence includes the nervous impulses to the brain, in the vertebral column and in the area surrounding the penis, as well as the responses from the muscles, fibrous tissues, veins and arteries in and near the corpora cavernosa.

There are three main causes:

Organic causes

  • Vascular problems
  • Chronic alcoholism
  • Infections
  • Some medication
  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Neurological damage, such as multiple sclerosis
  • Hormonal alterations

The products used to solve the illness favour blood flow.

Organic reasons erectile dysfunction

Traumatic causes

  • Traumas and interventions in the pelvis
  • Damage to the vertebral column

Psychological causes

  • Anxiety
  • Fear
  • Stress
  • Depression
  • Marriage issues

A man can suffer from several factors at the same time. Erectile dysfunction is commonly considered as a natural consequence of age, due to the fact that its incidence increases with age. Approximately 5% of men in their 40s suffer from it, and this percentage increases to 15-25% among men that are 65.

It is one of the biggest sexual problems that men have to endure, since it makes them unable to maintain sexual relationships. However, ever since the apparition of sildenafil citrate (Viagra), this problem has a very simple treatment through medication.

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Authors and contributors

 Iván Ferrer Durbà
Biologist & Science Teacher
Bachelor's Degree in Biology by the University of Valencia (UV). Postgraduate Course in Secondary Education and Teaching by the University of Portsmouth. Teacher of Sciences at multiple British schools and high schools. More information
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