Causes and Symptoms of Sexual Weakness or Erectile Dysfunction
CAUSES OF SEXUAL WEAKNESS
• Old Age :
As men age there is a natural slowing down of many bodily functions.
From a sexual viewpoint, this may occur as decreased firmness of
erections, shorter lasting erections or a longer "recovery time" in
between erections These changes may be caused by a decreased production
of testosterone, decreased blood flow or other diseases that are more
common in men as they age. Most commonly, the sexual changes associated
with old age are due to a combination of the factors discussed in more
• Decreased Blood Flow : A
decrease in the blood flow to the penis will affect the quality of
erections. The erections will be weak and/or short lasting.
• Diabetes : Diabetes can
interfere with erections in a number of ways, and erectile problems tend
to get worse the longer a man has diabetes. Half of all men with
diabetes experience some degree of erectile dysfunction. Diabetes can
affect the sending and receiving of nerve impulses. This condition is
called peripheral neuropathy and may also affect the hands and feet of
diabetics. Without good nerve function, erections are more difficult to
achieve. Diabetes may affect the blood flow to the penis. Men with
diabetes often experience decreased quality or number of erections.
Healthy blood vessels are needed for the engorgement of penile tissue
that leads to erection.
• High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) :
Hypertension can affect erections either by the changes it causes in
the blood vessels, or by the medications used for treatment.
Hypertension may affect the veins, allowing the blood that does rush
into the penis to exit just as quickly. The effects of hypertension on
erectile function are cumulative over time and may occur even before a
man knows he has hypertension.
• Pelvic Surgery (prostate, bladder, rectal) :
When surgery is performed in the pelvic area, injury to the nerves and
or blood vessels may result. Even with "nerve sparing" procedures, the
nerves may be temporarily or permanently altered. With extensive surgery
for bladder or rectal cancers, a large amount of tissue is removed and
impotence may occur.
• Spinal Cord Injury, Multiple Sclerosis, and Other Nervous System Disorders :
An injury to the spinal cord disrupts the nerve pathways necessary for
an erection. Sometimes men with a spinal cord injury may get reflex
erections. However, these are unpredictable and usually very short
lasting. Multiple sclerosis interferes with the nerve impulses in the
body. Also, multiple sclerosis may lead to generalized weakness and
immobility which make it difficult to get an erection. Any other
disorder which interferes with the nervous system can make good
erections difficult or impossible.
• Hormonal Problems : The
hormones play an important part in sexual function. They are responsible
for the sex drive (also called libido). Hormonal imbalances such as low
testosterone or high prolactin can disrupt the libido.
• Depression and Psychological Problems :
Depression may lead to erectile dysfunction by a loss of sex drive, or
by the medications used for treatment. Problems with premature
ejaculation and the anxiety associated with it may lead to erectile
• Cigarette Smoking, Excessive Use of Alcohol, Drug Abuse :
Habits such as smoking, heavy alcohol use and recreational drug abuse
may inhibit erectile function. The effects may be temporary or
permanent. Temporary erectile dysfunction may occur as a result of
ingestion of large amounts of alcohol. Permanent effects may occur from
the effects of smoking on the blood vessels or alcohol on the nerves.
substances added to recreational drugs may damage both the vessels and
• Medications : Medications used
to treat a variety of diseases can affect erectile functioning. Some of
the more common are drugs used to treat high blood pressure and
depression. Switching medications may help restore sexual function.
Changes in medication must always be ordered and supervised by a medical
professional. Talk to your medical doctor about the possibility of
switching blood pressure medications. There are many medications for
hypertension which do not cause erection problems.
• Peyronie's Disease : Peyronie's
disease is a bending of the erect penis which is often painful. The
exact cause of Peyronie's is not known, but there may be some
association with trauma. This condition can lead to impotence and/or
inability to have intercourse due to the curvature.
SYMPTOMS OF ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION
The symptom of erectile dysfunction is the inability to achieve and
maintain an erection for satisfactory sexual intercourse. This condition
also may involve problems with emission, ejaculation and orgasm.