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Dr. Pham Hoang Trung

Sexual dysfunction or impotence is defined as a man’s inability to have a desired erection or difficulty to maintain it during intercourse. Erection is the result of a complex combination of neural stimulations, functionality of blood vessels, nerves, and hormonal activities. Anything adversely affecting one of the above factors will cause impotence. Some of the reasons that cause sexual dysfunction include peripheral blood vessel disease, the use of some medications, heavy drinking, smoking, contagious diseases caught through intercourse, and chronic diseases such as diabetes or high blood pressure. Hormonal troubles in the body such as the degeneration of male hormones (testosterone), an increase in the production of prolactin hormones, an increase or decrease of thyroid hormones, can all lead to impotence. Diabetes usually causes arteriosclerosis and affects blood circulation, which is the common cause for physical impotence. Sexual dysfunction can be chronic, on and off, or it can happen only once. It is estimated that there are about 30 million men in the U.S. who have had impotence from time to time. Most of these men are in their forties or older (one out of three men over sixty is impotent), but those who are under forty can also have sexual problems.

In the past it was thought that the cause of impotence was psychological. However, nowadays, doctors believe that up to 85% of the impotence cases are physical. An association conducting research on male sexual dysfunction recognizes over 200 kinds of drugs that can cause impotence. The most common ones are alcohol, medications for depression, allergies, high blood pressure or urination stimulation, narcotics, nicotine from cigarettes, tranquilizers, medications for stomach diseases caused by acid and ulcer.

Arteriosclerosis is caused mostly by smoking and consuming too much cholesterol-containing food, which gradually lead to the formation of plaques along the interior wall of the arteries. These plaques block the circulation of blood, which not only causes heart attacks but also obstacles for the penis’s erection because blood cannot sufficiently flow through its vessels during intercourse. This is what we know as impotence.


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