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Erectile Dysfunction – Impotence

Erectile Dysfunction – Impotence

Erectile dysfunction affects at least one in ten men, which means there are over 2 million men affected in the UK. It is defined as the inability to achieve or sustain an erection that’s hard enough or lasts long enough to complete sexual intercourse or another chosen sexual activity.

Most men will experience an occasional failure to get an erection. This can usually be put down to stress, tiredness, anxiety or too much alcohol. In these circumstances it’s nothing to worry about. However, if the problem persists it is important to try and find the underlying cause.

In the past it was thought that more frequent impotence was caused by almost entirely psychological factors, but we now know that physical conditions are present in 8 out of 10 cases. However, the majority of men the root cause of erectile dysfunction is a combination of psychological and physical causes.

Contributing factors

Stress РStress is one of the leading psychological causes of impotence. While a little stress helps drive achievement and success, too much stress is not good for you. When the body is in a stressed state it focuses its resources on the essential processes needed for fight or flight. This is a prehistoric survival mechanism designed to help us get out of danger. During stress, the body is focused on pumping blood to the muscles and getting more air into the lungs so we can fight or run. Functions such as digestion and sexual arousal are put on hold during this time. Consequently, long term chronic stress can impact greatly on potency. If you have a stressful lifestyle then you might like to consider an adrenal stress test.  This is a really useful way of assessing stress levels and identifying ways to support the body. Smart Nutrition could then work with you to address any stress hormone imbalances and to work towards restoring normal working function. Adrenal Stress Test.

Cardiovascular disease – Hardening of the arteries can lead to high blood pressure, angina or poor circulation. It can also result in reduced blood flow to the penis, predisposing sufferers to impotence. Gradual onset of erectile dysfunction is often the only early warning sign for cardiovascular disease. ‘Risk factors’ that increase your chance of ‘narrowing of the arteries’ include: Getting older, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking and diabetes. If you suffer with impotence or are concerned that your lifestyle may predispose you to cardiovascular disease you may wish to consider A Nutrition Consultation and A Comprehensive Cardiovascular Risk Assessment.

Smoking – Impotence is much more common in smokers than non-smokers. This is because the nicotine found in cigarettes has a narrowing effect on blood vessels. This can lead to compromised blood flow in and out of the penis, making it more difficult to achieve and maintain an erection. Unfortunately, for many, giving up smoking can be a difficult task. Luckily, nutritional therapy can provide a valuable support through this process with diet and supplements recommendations to support you body and reduce cravings. Book a Consultation.

Diabetes – Impotence is common in persons with diabetes. It is estimated that half of all diabetic men are impotent and the other half will become impotent in time. The process involves premature and unusually severe hardening of the arteries and degenerative changes in the nerves controlling erections. However, impotence does not have to be inevitable! Proper control of blood sugar levels and modification of certain lifestyle factors can help to prevent development of this distressing condition.

Heavy metal toxicity – Exposures to heavy metal toxins can impair the nerves that control potency. Unfortunately toxic metals are rife in the modern environment, occurring in everything from pollution, pesticides and mercury fillings, to tap water. If you think heavy metals are playing a role in your symptoms you can get your levels checked by having a hair mineral analysis (insert link)

Excessive alcohol intake – Long-term alcohol abuse affects the nervous system and impairs the communication between the brain’s pituitary gland and the genitals. This system is responsible for triggering the signals that dilate and relax the blood vessels in the penis, resulting in an erection. Clinical studies have shown that prolonged alcohol abuse causes irreversible damage to the nerves in the penis, which results in alcohol impotence. Excessive drinking also results in behavioural changes that reduce sexual desire and inhibit sexual performance. Alcoholism also disrupts hormone levels, in particular, testosterone and oestrogen. Low levels of testosterone diminish sexual drive and function. Addressing excessive alcohol intake is never easy, but nutritional therapy can be a valuable part of the recovery process. Using food and supplements to rebalance brain chemistry and bring the body back into a nourished and healthy state.

Hormone imbalance – A small number of cases of erectile dysfunction are caused by hormone abnormalities. The most frequent imbalance is a reduced level of the male sex hormone testosterone. This can be detected through a simple, non invasive Testosterone Saliva Test.

Kidney problems – It has been discovered that diseases affecting the kidney accelerate chemical changes in the body that can have a certain amount of impact on the production of testosterone, energy level and blood circulation in the body, all of which are implicated in erectile dysfunction. In addition compromised kidney function can lead to a toxic situation which is known as uraemia. Uraemia can lead to decreased production of testosterone and an increase in the production of prolactin in the body. The excessive production of prolactin accelerates the occurrence of impotence in men. Some drugs recommended to treat kidney diseases also occasionally result in male erectile dysfunction.

Neurological disease – Conditions which affect the functioning of nerves can also cause impotence. Examples include multiple sclerosis and strokes.

Medications – A great variety of prescription drugs, such as blood pressure medications, anti-anxiety and anti-depressant drugs, glaucoma eye drops, and ulcer medications are associated with impotence. If you think your impotence is linked to medications you’re taking you should contact your doctor.

Structural problems – Injury to the nerves going to the penis caused by spinal injury, surgery, fractured pelvis or radiotherapy can also cause impotence. In rare cases certain conditions of the penis can also cause a phenomenon called ‘venous leak’ which results in excessive outflow of blood from the penis through the veins.