Impotence and Erectile Dysfunction

Causes of Erectile Dysfunction: Penile Implants and Other Treatment Options

In the past, most impotence cases were thought to be psychological in nature. Over the past ten years or so new treatments have developed which range from penile implants and vacuum devices to non-invasive drug therapies like Viagra. The variety of treatment options offers physicians the ability to successfully treat almost all patients.

Impotence is among the most under-treated of medical conditions. Currently, only five to ten percent of men who suffer from impotence seek treatment. It is estimated that 30 million men, in the United States alone, suffer from erectile dysfunction, which is a staggering number. While impotence affects men directly, the condition also has a significant impact on the relationship a man has with his partner which can lead to depression in one or both partners.

What is Erectile Dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction, sometimes called impotence, is the repeated inability to get or keep an erection firm enough for sexual intercourse. The word impotence may also be used to describe other problems that interfere with sexual intercourse and reproduction, such as a lack of sexual desire and problems with ejaculation or orgasm. Using the term erectile dysfunction makes it clear that those other problems are not involved.

Erectile dysfunction, can be a total inability to achieve erection, an inconsistent ability to do so, or a tendency to sustain only brief erections. These variations make defining erectile dysfunction and estimating its incidence difficult. Estimates can range from 15 million to 40 million having erectile dysfunction, depending on the definition used. According to the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NAMCS), for every 1,000 men in the United States, 7.7 million physician office visits were made for ED in 1985. By 1999, that rate had nearly tripled to 22.3 million.

The increase happened gradually, presumably as treatments such as vacuum devices and inject-able drugs became more widely available and discussing erectile function became more accepted. Perhaps the most publicized advance was the introduction of the oral drug sildenafil citrate (Viagra) in March 1998. NAMCS data on new drugs show an estimated 2.6 million mentions of Viagra were made at physician office visits in 1999, and one-third of those mentions occurred during visits for a diagnosis other than erectile dysfunction.

In older men, erectile dysfunction usually has a physical cause such as disease, injury, or is a side effect of prescription drugs. Any disorder that causes injury to the nerves or impairs blood flow in the penis has the potential to cause erectile dysfunction. Incidence increases with age: About 40% of 40-year-old men and about 70% of 70-year-old men experience erectile dysfunction. But it is not an inevitable part of aging.

Erectile dysfunction is treatable at any age, and awareness of this fact has been growing. More men have been seeking help and returning to normal sexual activity because of improved, successful treatments.

What are the Causes of Erectile Dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction is defined as the total inability or inconsistent ability to achieve or maintain an erection. It may be caused by physical disorders such as an injury to the brain or spinal cord. A disease such as diabetes may also cause sexual dysfunction. If a patient had an operation, such as the removal of prostate glands, it may also affect his sexual health. The use of substances such as tobacco, drugs, alcohol and certain medications may also be the cause for a man's erectile dysfunction.

At our Southern California clinic in San Diego, we specialize in helping patients with erectile dysfunction by utilizing a multi-faced treatment approach. We work together with each patient to create a personalized treatment plan.

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