A Comprehensive Guide to the
Physical Causes of Impotence

Physical causes of impotence

Impotence can often be the first sign of an underlying medical condition.

Impotence (or erectile dysfunction) is defined as the inability to achieve or maintain an erection sufficient for sexual intercourse, and includes the inability to get an erection as a result of sexual stimulation or to lose your erection prior to ejaculation.

Impotence does not generally include other symptoms such as lack of libido, inability to ejaculate or the inability to achieve orgasm.

Let's take a look at some of the physical causes of impotence...

Erectile Dysfunction Physical Causes


Diabetes is one of the major physical causes of impotence. Up to 75% of men with diabetes will experience impotence within ten years of the onset of the illness. The symptoms of Type II diabetes often go undetected for a long period of time, and impotence can be the first indication that something is wrong. 

Heart disease, high cholesterol and cardiovascular problems

Vascular disorders are also a major factor in determining the physical causes of impotence. Vascular problems begin with a build up of fatty deposits in the arteries. This process is usually caused by high-fat diets, high cholesterol and hereditary conditions. Over time, the build up of fatty deposits prevents the arteries from being able to dilate. Therefore they can't become engorged with blood, preventing an erection from occurring.

Surgery to the prostate, lower bowel and lower spine

Nerve damage is one of the major physical causes of impotence. The nervous system carries neurotransmitters which send information from the brain to various parts of the body.

If nerve damage occurs in the prostate, lower bowel, spine or groin, the nerves are unable to trigger the mechanism to dilate the blood vessels and produce an erection. Multiple sclerosis and Parkinson's disease also create neurological disturbances that impair the nervous system, another important factor in the physical causes of impotence.

Hormone and thyroid disorders

Insufficient testosterone and estrogen hormones in the body is another of the physical causes of impotence. Hormone deficiencies, in particular testosterone, can radically impair libido and prevent erections from occurring. Hormone replacement therapy is usually suggested to help overcome impotence problems.

Peyronie's Disease

Peyronie's disease is often referred to as penile curvature and is one of the physical causes of impotence. Peyronie's disease occurs when penile tissue becomes fibrous and thickens. This fibrous tissue is called "plaque". The plaque build up often results in painful erections and bending of the penis. If the plaque continues to occur, erections can become very painful, and the curvature of the penis makes erections and penetration during sexual intercourse impossible to achieve.

There are other diseases and conditions that can contribute to ED as well.

In most cases, a visit to your doctor can help you overcome the physical causes of impotence. Impotence treatments, including impotence drugs such as Viagra®, have proven to be very successful in over 80% of men when there is a physical cause of impotence.

If necessary, making lifestyle changes can also help you overcome and prevent impotence. Smoking, alcohol, obesity and lack of exercise are contributors to impotence.

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