Erectile dysfunction can have various causes, ranging in severity from 'minor' to 'generally fatal'. Finding the true cause means ruling out or confirming each possibility – in other words, diagnosis.
Diagnosis is usually a complex process due to the sheer number of possible causes and related symptoms. In order to diagnose erectile dysfunction, we could:
|Cigarette Smoke Damage
Do you have difficulty achieving or maintaining an erection?
Possible responses:→ No / never / prefer not to say / don't know
→ Very rarely I will fail to maintain full erection
→ I occasionally fail to achieve/maintain erection
→ I usually/always fail to achieve/maintain erection
Impotence or erectile dysfunction is one of the most common symptoms of andropause.
A buildup of plaque in the penile arteries can lead to difficulty achieving or maintaining erection. A long-running study of over 2,000 men found that erectile dysfunction is associated with a more than threefold higher risk of heart attack. Lead researcher Dr. Steven J. Jacobsen, a professor of epidemiology at the Mayo Clinic, reported the findings Nov. 11, 2003 at the American Heart Association's annual conference in Orlando, Florida. According to Jacobsen, "We can't say that it is cause-and-effect, but erectile dysfunction is a marker for future events of cardiovascular disease." Overall, men with a heart attack from 1979 to 1995 were 3.5 times more likely to have erectile dysfunction in 1996 than men who did not have a heart attack.
All activity within the body requires adequate hydration – including erection maintenance. Although dehydration is usually not the only cause, there are various ways in which it can worsen ED. Dehydration reduces blood volume and causes blood vessels to become narrower, restricting blood flow to all parts of the body, including the penis. Sexual arousal also requires the right state of mind; even mild dehydration can cause confusion, irritation, tension, anxiety, mood swings, and lethargy, none of which are conducive to getting or maintaining an erection.
Without sufficient testosterone the penile muscles atrophy, with the result that insufficient blood is trapped for developing or maintaining an erection, which in turn leads to poor performance and the anxiety that follows. One study found that low testosterone is a factor in 20% of men under 30 with erectile problems.
A cancerous prostate gland may interfere with blood flow and nerve impulses to the penis. That can cause ED; impotence can be one of the signs of prostate cancer.
Men with high blood pressure who smoke are 26 times more likely to be impotent than non-smokers. Even former smokers with high blood pressure (hypertension) are 11 times more likely to be impotent than non smokers. [Study conducted by Dr. John Spangler, MD at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center]