Impotence: Symptoms, Causes, And Possible Solutions


Erectile dysfunction, previously known as impotence, is a multidimensional problem that has plagued man for centuries. Impotence in males is defined as the inability to sustain or develop an erection during sexual intercourse, even after adequate sexual stimulation. Every third man across the globe has experienced mild forms of impotence, some time or the other.

Two aspects of the male erection, the reflex erection, and the psychogenic erection, can be involved in this dysfunction and are subject to treatment. The reflex erection is achieved by directly touching the penile shaft and is under the control of the peripheral nerves and the lower parts of the spinal cord. In contrast to this, the psychogenic erection is achieved by erotic or emotional stimuli and utilizes the limbic system of the brain.

From a clinical standpoint, erectile dysfunction often precedes cardiovascular events. Thus, it is used as an early marker to identify men at high risk of cardiovascular afflictions. Through this article, we shall unveil the symptoms, causes, and solutions to combat this rampant disease, impotence in males.

Symptoms Of Impotence

Impotence in males may or may not be a permanent problem. Depending on the frequency of erectile dysfunction, a course of treatment is charted out. Tell-tale signs and symptoms of impotence include:

  • Being able to get an erection occasionally, but not having voluntary control over it
  • Being able to get an erection, but not having it last long enough to engage in coitus
  • Being unable to get an erection at any time
  • Lowered libido and sex drive than usual

Causes Of Impotence

Impotence in males is a broad-spectrum problem. It can have varied causes that alter the erectile response in organic, relational, or psychological ways. A penile erection involves relaxation of the corpus cavernosum, a type of spongy tissue in the penis. This is an event mediated by nitrous oxide (NO) and cyclic guanosine monophosphate (CGMP).

The most commonly observed causes are listed below:

1. Psychological Factors

Increasing importance is being attached to the psychological aspects of the diagnosis and management of ED in recent years. The limbic system is responsible for several emotional and survival instincts in addition to controlling the erectile response of the penis. Any mood disorder or psychological factors such as stress, anxiety, or depression can severely incapacitate the body concerning sustaining or developing an erection.

2. Low Libido And Low Testosterone

About 4 out of 10 men over age 45 have reported instances of low libido and low testosterone. This can cause erectile dysfunction or impotence. The problem is persistent in older men with enlarged prostates and often ends up in men feeling emotionally distraught. A lot of pills like Viagra and Cialis can be used to combat the problem, but there is no permanent cure except hormone therapy.

3. Side Effects Of Medications

Several prescription and over-the-counter drugs may cause erectile dysfunction. While these drugs may treat a disease or condition, they can also affect a man’s hormones, nerves, or blood circulation, resulting in impotence. Diuretics and anti-hypertensive drugs, antidepressants, anti-anxiety, and anti-epileptic drugs can all severely affect a man’s virility.

ED is an occasional side effect of beta-blockers, which decreases blood flow to the penis and makes it difficult to get an erection. Epinephrine constricts the blood vessels and causes blood to pump more forcefully. It is believed that by blocking these receptors, beta-blockers may interfere with the limbic system that is responsible for causing an erection.

4. Neurological And Cardiovascular Disorders

Male sexual arousal is a complex process that involves the brain, hormones, emotions, nerves, muscles, and blood vessels. Any neurological condition can impair the nerves in the penis to perceive sexual stimulation employing chemical messengers. This can lead to impotence in males and hamper virility and fertility.

Moreover, cardiovascular issues can lead to the narrowing of the blood vessels in the penile region, leading to inadequate blood flow. Atherosclerosis, a condition that causes the blood vessels to become clogged with fat and lipids, is highly dangerous. High cholesterol and hypertension are also associated with increased risks for impotence.

5. Physiological Factors

A few physiological factors can completely take control of the body’s functioning and affect sex drive. The primary physiological cause of ED is associated with endocellular degeneration and disorders of the body’s neural reflex.

Tobacco use, which restricts blood flow to veins and arteries, can over time cause chronic health conditions that lead to erectile dysfunction. Being obese or leading a sedentary lifestyle is also considered a huge risk factor for developing impotence in males.

Drug and alcohol use should be mitigated as much as possible. Erectile dysfunction in men addicted to alcohol is fairly common but found to be significantly higher in those consuming more than 3 standard units of alcohol daily. Subjects smoking more than 10 cigarettes per day or consuming barbiturates are also historically known to suffer from problems of impotence.

Solutions For Impotence

Treatment options are varied and have different rates of efficacy. In this section, we shall deal with medicinal, surgical, and natural treatment solutions for impotence in males.

1. Medicinal Solutions

A group of medicines called phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE-5) inhibitors is generally prescribed for the treatment of impotence in males. These include sildenafil citrate 100mg, tadalafil 2omg, avanafil, and several other generic drugs. Following sexual stimulation, PDE-5 inhibitors work by increasing the lateral width of the blood vessels, causing relaxation and allowing the flow of blood into the penis. The result of this is improved erectile function.

It is important to note that these medications do not work if there is no sexual stimulation. Oral erectile dysfunction medications are not aphrodisiacs, will not cause excitement, and are not needed in people who get normal erections. Young adults that this medication is marketed at usually are unaware of its true use due to misinformation.

Unprescribed recreational use of sildenafil and other PDE5 inhibitors is also particularly high among users of illegal drugs. Sildenafil and tadalafil are sometimes used to counteract the effects of illicit, dangerous substances. Some users mix it with methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA or ecstasy), other stimulants, and opiates. This is done in an attempt to compensate for the common side effect of these barbiturates- erectile dysfunction.

2. Surgical Solutions

Depending on the requirements of the patient, surgery is performed to treat impotence in males. These surgeries are done to achieve any of the following goals:

  • Implanting a prosthetic device within the penis
  • Reconstructing the arteries within the penis to increase blood flow
  • Blocking off veins within the penis that allow blood to leave the penis

Prosthetic penile implants available are a semi-rigid or malleable rod implant and an inflatable implant. With an inflatable implant, you squeeze the pump placed within the scrotum to inflate the cylinders that are surgically implanted within the penis. The pump moves fluid from the reservoir implanted in the lower abdomen to the cylinders. The expansion of these cylinders creates an erection.

It must be stressed that very few men are potential candidates for vascular reconstructive surgery. Besides, extensive testing is required of men before undergoing this procedure. Although moderately effective, the long-term effects of this surgery last about 2 years or less. Moreover, vascular reconstructive surgery is very expensive and associated with a relatively high relapse rate.

3. Natural Solutions

Many lifestyle changes are erectile dysfunction remedies, but among them, exercise is the ED treatment that can have the greatest impact. A diet rich in green vegetables, whole grains, and fish, and with fewer servings of red meat and refined grains, also decreases the risk for impotence in males. Bodyweight must be regulated since obesity increases the risk for vascular disease and diabetes, two factors that contribute to ED.

For those with low libido and low testosterone, it is essential to know that hormone secretion is controlled by the body’s internal clock. Sleep patterns and melatonin regulation should likely help the body determine when to release hormones like testosterone.


With age, virility and fertility are both affected. Aging is a contributing factor in impotence, but even as you advance in years, it is possible to maintain a vigorous sex drive.

Although a plethora of treatment options are available to manage impotence in males, the patient should always consult a healthcare professional first. Speaking to a counselor or psychologist can often enable people to overcome stress and anxiety linked with sex and relationships. This can help enhance their performance in the bedroom and regulate erectile dysfunction symptoms.


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