Healthy Beginnings

Male Impotence & Erectile Dysfunction

A man is considered to have erectile dysfunction (ED) when he cannot acquire or sustain an erection of sufficient rigidity for satisfactory sexual performance, which includes sexual intercourse and penetration. Any man may, at one time or another during his life, experience periodic or isolated sexual failures. The term “impotent” is reserved for those men who experience erectile dysfunction during attempted intercourse more than 75 percent of the time.
An erection occurs as a hydraulic effect, due to blood entering and being retained in the sponge-like bodies within the penis. The process is most often initiated as a result of sexual arousal; when signals are transmitted from the brain to the nerves in the penis. Erectile dysfunction and impotence occur when an erection is consistently difficult or impossible to produce or maintain despite sexual arousal.

The prevalence of erectile dysfunction is a wide spread problem among the male population. It is estimated that approximately 52 percent of men will have difficulties with erectile dysfunction and/or impotence. Studies have also shown that at age forty, 40 percent of men acknowledge some level of impaired sexual function and another ten percent recognize a waning sexual prowess, diminished libido and abnormal ejaculation with each succeeding decade. These figures are generally considered to be lower than the actual cases, as many men will not report their problems to their primary care physician or other health care providers because of the stigma associated with it. Embarrassment, potency, success, loss of masculinity and secrecy among other males is a primary reason for this. These factors can also lead to severe psychological consequences.

There are many causes for erectile dysfunction. Medications are a very common cause for the lack of sexual performance in men. A study entitled “Drug-induced male sexual dysfunction,” concluded that of the twelve most commonly prescribed medications on the market today, eight of the drugs list impotence as a possible side effect. It is estimated that 25 percent of cases of erectile dysfunction are due to medications. Some of these drugs include those for high blood pressure, diabetes, depression and other mental and psychological disorders.

Other causes of impotence are related to spinal cord and brain injuries. Also, nerve disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis and stroke can cause erectile dysfunction. Hormonal and Arterial disorders can also cause impotence. Hormonal problems include pituitary gland tumors and low or abnormally high levels of testosterone. Arterial problems, such as peripheral artery disease and hypertension, decrease blood flow to the penis.
Surgery of the colon, prostate, bladder or rectum may damage the nerves and blood vessels involved in an erection, causing erectile dysfunction. Also, a major factor in impotence involves lifestyle choices. Excessive alcohol and illegal drug use, obesity (which causes a decrease in testosterone production) and cigarette smoking are well-documented as major causes of “ED.” In fact the incidence of impotence is 85 percent higher in male smokers compared to non-smokers.

While impotence is quite common among men, there are many forms of treatment available. Testosterone supplements are often used for hormonal deficiencies. However, most erectile dysfunction is caused by decreased blood flow to the penis. Treatments include a range of oral medications that dilate the blood vessels in the penis, allowing more blood flow. Penile suppositories are another type of treatment. These types of treatments can take anywhere from one to 36 hours to work, and can cause significant side effects. When these fail, micro-injections into the erectile tissue of the penis are extremely effective, work very quickly and cause little to no side effects. However, the first and most important step to eliminating impotence and erectile dysfunction is to admit there is a problem and seek advice from a licensed physician.


  1. Richard F. Spark, MD “Overview of Male Sexual Dysfunction.” Dated October 1, 2009.
  2. “NIH Consensus Development Panel on Impotence.” Dated July, 1993.
  3. “Erectile Dysfunction Causes.” Healthwise. Dated 2006.
  4. “Causes of Erectile Dysfunction.” American Health Network. Dated 2006.
  5. “The Tobacco Reference Guide.” Dated 2006.
  6. “You don’t have to live with erectile dysfunction (ED),” The Canadian Male Sexual Health Council.

For more info, contact the Reno Male Performance Clinic at (775) 337-0703 or visit online at