IMPOTENCE - Watsons Health


Erectile dysfunction most commonly known as impotence, is the inability to get or keep an erection. This condition can happen to men at any age and is never considered a normal finding. Age can increase the risk for impotence but it does not cause it. It may be caused by underlying problems such as

medical conditions, medications, trauma, and other outside influences.


Causes of Impotence 

All men will experience impotence at some point in their life may be because of physical or psychological reason or both. Although it can happen in younger men, the risk of impotence is much higher in middle-age men.

Physical causes for impotence in older adult men include: 

  • atherosclerosis- a condition caused by a buildup of plaque in the arteries that makes difficult for blood to flow to the rest of the body
  • diabetes
  • obesity
  • thyroid problems
  • kidney issues
  • sleep disorders
  • blood vessel damage
  • nerve damage
  • high blood pressure
  • high cholesterol
  • low testosterone
  • pelvic or spinal cord trauma or surgery
  • tobacco use
  • alcoholism
  • certain prescription medications, including antidepressants and diuretics 

Aside from physical causes, various psychological issues can cause impotence in middle-aged and older adult men. These may include:

  • depression
  • anxiety
  • stress
  • relationship problems

The main symptom of impotence is the inability to achieve or sustain an erection. Although it is temporary, in most cases, it can have a negative effect on sex life because a man is unable to maintain an erection long enough to continue sexual intercourse.

If a man feels he isn’t satisfying his partner, psychological symptoms may occur. These symptoms include low self-esteem and depression and which worsen impotence.

An underlying medical condition, such as diabetes or high blood pressure can also cause impotence in some cases. The symptoms of the condition may be present along with impotence.


Your doctor may be able to diagnose impotence by

  • Taking a medical history – Sharing your medical history with your doctor can help them determine the cause of your impotence. It’s also important to let your doctor know if you’re taking any medication.
  • Performing a physical examination– your doctor will visually inspect your penis for any external causes for your impotence. External causes can include trauma or lesions from sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

If your doctor suspects there’s an underlying cause to your condition, they will perform various tests. For example, your doctor will order a blood test to check your blood glucose levels. This will show them if diabetes is to blame. Other tests may include:

  • blood tests to check for low testosterone levels, lipid levels, and other conditions
  • ECG (electrocardiogram) to detect any heart issues
  • ultrasound to look for problems with blood flow
  • urine test to determine blood sugar levels



Impotence usually subsides if the underlying cause for impotence is determined and is treated. There are also several oral medications that can help treat impotence. These include sildenafil (Viagra) and tadalafil (Cialis). They’re designed to help men achieve or maintain an erection. However, men with serious medical conditions, such as heart disease, can’t take these medications. Men who are taking certain medications should also avoid them. 

Your doctor may suggest other treatment options if you can’t take oral medications for impotence. These alternatives include mechanical aids like penis pump or a penile implant. Your doctor will explain how to use these devices.

Impotence may also be a result of lifestyle choices, so you may want to consider making changes to your lifestyle. These changes include: 

  • quitting smoking
  • avoiding illegal drug use
  • reducing alcohol consumption
  • exercising at least three times per week
  • maintaining a healthy weight 

These lifestyle adjustments can also reduce the risk of future health complications. 

Stress relief methods, such as meditation and therapy, may also be useful in treating impotence caused by stress. Make sure you get plenty of sleep and exercise to reverse stress-related impotence.

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