Erectile dysfunction (male impotence) is an exclusively male sex condition with is reversible provided the right treatment is administered. However, like most disease conditions, it is better prevented.
This underscores having a knowledge of the causes and mechanisms alongside the treatment of this condition.
Causes of erectile dysfunction
This can be divided into causes from systemic diseases, vascular diseases, neurologic disease, endocrine disease, psychiatric ailments, respiratory diseases, hematological causes, nutritional deficiencies, penile conditions, post-surgery, and certain drugs
1. Systemic diseases:
Examples include hypertension, scleroderma, renal failure, hepatic failure, dyslipidemia, cancer, etc.
2. Vascular diseases:
Peripheral arterial disease, atherosclerosis, vasculitis from radiotherapy, vascular trauma, myocardial infarction, etc.
3. Neurologic diseases:
Cerebrovascular accident, seizure disorder, neurotrauma, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer disease, gullianbarre syndrome
4. Endocrine diseases:
Hypo – or hyperthyroidism, diabetes, hypopituitarism, hypogonadism
5. Psychiatric ailments:
Performance anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder
6. Respiratory disorders:
Sleep apnoea, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
7. Hematological causes:
Sickle cell diseases, acute and chronic leukemias
8. Nutritional deficiencies:
Vitamin deficiencies, zinc deficiency
9. Penile conditions:
Priapism, hypospadias, epispadias
Abdominal, perineal, brain, spinal cord, retroperitoneal, pelvic and aortoiliac surgeries
Methadone, finasteride, dutasteride, antipsychotics, antidepressants, antihypertensives, and antiulcer agents
Other causes not on this list include obesity, heavy alcoholism, smoking, etc
Mechanisms of Erectile dysfunction
Normally, for a penile erection to occur, signals are sent from the brain through nerves to stimulate the penis during sexual arousal. These signals from the brain cause the corpora cavernosa (a twin muscular chamber within the penis) to relax. Following its relaxation, blood flows into the corpora cavernosa to fill the air spaces in it.
With the blood in it, a pressure is created which causes the penile expansion and makes the penis stay erect. After sexual intercourse, this is reversed by an outflow of the blood to make the penis flaccid again
Factors that cause distortion of this process at any level will lead inevitably to erectile dysfunction. This factor can cause failure the neural transmission to the penis either by causing a failure in the generation of the brain signal, failure in the transmission or the signal doesn’t last long enough, or no healthy penile tissue (whether vessels or muscle) for the signal to act on.
Natural therapies and modalities for erectile dysfunction
1. Attending to all issues of cardiovascular health
Most causes of erectile dysfunctions affect the cardiovascular health of the individual. Erectile dysfunction may just be a sign of something more sinister.
Cardiovascular conditions like peripheral vascular diseases, myocardial infarction, complicated hypertension, etc. may have one of their earliest signs as erectile dysfunction and will all need urgent attention and visit to the physician
A healthy diet is a key to preventing many of the causes of erectile dysfunction. Low fats diets, low sugar diets, high fibre diets, high biologic protein diet, diets with a good amount of unsaturated fatty acids, diets with good amounts of vitamins and minerals, and low salt diets have all been found to prevent many of the medical conditions linked with erectile dysfunction
Exercises regimen like jogging, swimming, hiking, walking, each for 20 to 30 minutes at least generally will cause catabolism of excess calories and cause a significant drop in the risk of occurrence of erectile dysfunction.
4. Prevent or treat overweight and obesity
Being overweight or obese for males increases the risk of erectile dysfunction in many folds. So, anything that will prevent or treat overweight and obesity will do the same thing for erectile dysfunction.
5. Quit smoking and reduce alcohol intake
Since tobacco smoking and excess alcoholism has been linked to erectile dysfunction, then technically, it means running away from these so-called recreational activities also means running away from erectile dysfunction
6. Adequate but not excess sleep
Sleeping for at least 6hours nor more than 8hours has been associated with better functions of body organs including the penis
Preventing erectile dysfunction seems a better way to go and where this is not possible, it should be treated. The knowledge of its causes, mechanisms and proven preventive measure is key in this regard.