Impotence or erectile dysfunction (ED) means not being able to get a good enough erection to have intercourse. Temporary impotence is very common indeed, particularly in younger men, and especially when they are either anxious, or have had too much to drink.
The first approach to any of these problems is an educational one. Ignorance, fear, shame and anxiety feed upon themselves, and the first goal of almost every sexual therapy approach is to put things into perspective.
Where there is a psychological component to the problem hypnotherapy can be used to reduce anxiety, rebuild self-esteem, self-confidence, address performance anxiety issues and to amplify sensations experienced.
In a controlled study of 79 men with impotence from no known organic cause, only hypnosis proved more effective than a placebo, boosting sexual function by 80 percent (British Journal of Urology, February 1996).
If you're having erection problems, bear these points in mind:
- the most common cause of temporary impotence is just anxiety - not some serious disease!
- impotence can be helped by medication, sex counselling, mechanical aids, or - very occasionally - surgical treatment.
- impotence may be a symptom of another, as yet undiagnosed, disease requiring treatment; the most common of these is diabetes.
What causes impotence?
An erection happens when blood is pumped into your penis - and stays there - making it stiff and hard. All sorts of things may affect this complex process.
- Anxiousness about whether you can 'perform' will almost certainly make it impossible to get an erection.
- Problems in a relationship may affect potency.
- Impotence may be caused by depression.
- Bereavement: recent loss of a loved one is notorious for causing impotence.
- Hang-ups - for instance, guilt about sex.
- Unresolved gay feelings.
- Having an unattractive partner.
- Problems with the chemical mechanism that makes erections happen - very common in older men.
- Vascular (blood vessel) disorders. Patients with arteriosclerosis, other heart or vascular diseases and high blood pressure are at greater risk of developing impotence.
- Excessive drainage of blood from the penis through the veins (venous leak) – uncommon.
- Diabetes often creates erection difficulties.
- Smoking increases the risk of developing arteriosclerosis and, therefore, of suffering from impotence.
- Side effects from certain drugs, such as some blood pressure (BP) treatments, some antidepressants and some ulcer healing drugs; BP drugs, in particular, do this very frequently.
- Side effects of non-prescribed drugs (tobacco, alcohol, cocaine and others).
- Nervous system diseases - uncommon.
- Major surgery, eg prostate surgery or other abdominal operations.
- Hormonal abnormalities - rare.
Diagnostic and statistical manual criteria (DSM)