Impotence is the inability of a man to achieve or maintain an erection that is sufficient to complete sexual intercourse. Impotence is a common condition that may temporarily affect most men at some time in their lives. If impotence is short-lived and does not recur frequently, it is generally considered normal. If impotence persists, impotence can result in complications, such as male infertility and mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression.
Achieving and maintaining an erection is a complex process that involves a complex interplay of psychological elements as well as processes of the nervous system and the circulatory system. In a normal erection, sexual stimulation or arousal triggers nerves to increase the blood flow in the penis, which enlarges, strengthens, and becomes hard. Normally, the penis will maintain the erection until after ejaculation or when sexual excitement has ended.
Impotence, also called erectile dysfunction or ED, can result from diseases that impede normal circulation to the penis, such as diabetes, atherosclerosis, alcoholism, kidney disease, and multiple sclerosis. Impotence can also be due to conditions that interfere with normal nerve impulse transmission to the penis. These include neurologic diseases and some types of spinal cord trauma. Impotence can also be caused or worsened by psychological causes, such as depression, anxiety, guilt, and low self esteem.
Other causes of impotence include testosterone deficiency, obesity, testicular trauma, and some surgical procedures, such as those for prostate cancer or bladder cancer. Certain medications, such as some high blood pressure medications, may also cause impotence in some men.
The primary symptom of impotence is an inability to achieve or maintain an erection sufficient to complete sexual intercourse at least 25 percent of the time. For more information on symptoms, refer to symptoms of impotence.
Making a diagnosis of impotence begins with taking a thorough personal and family medical history, including symptoms, and completing a physical examination and neurological evaluation. It also includes performing blood and urine tests and other tests that check blood flow to the penis. These tests help diagnosis the cause and/or any other conditions, such as diabetes, that may underlie impotence.
A diagnosis of impotence can easily be missed or delayed due to a variety of factors. For more details on misdiagnosis, refer to misdiagnosis of impotence.
Treatment of impotence varies depending on the specific cause of the condition, a patient's goals, and the individual case. Treatment may include medications, the use of special devices, psychotherapy, sex therapy, addressing underlying causes of the condition, and/or surgery. For more information on treatment, refer to treatment of impotence. ...more »
Impotence or "erectile dysfunction" is the inability to attain or sustain an erection
for long enough for sexual activity.
About 70% of cases of impotence are actually caused by an underlying disease,
such as diabetes or kidney disease,
rather than a mental or physical problem.
Secondary impotence from various drugs and medications is common.
Physical damage from injury or surgery is another common cause of impotence.
Psychological causes of impotence are estimated to be only 10-20% of cases.
Although psychological aspects such as anxiety and fear of sexual failure
are commonly associated with impotence, they are not usually the real case,
but are a reaction to having impotence. ...more »
An inability to achieve or maintain an erection is the primary symptom of impotence. This condition occurs to most men at some point in their lives but is only considered abnormal if it results in an inability to achieve or maintain an erection sufficient to complete sexual intercourse at least 25 percent of the time.
Impotence can lead to other secondary symptoms that may include ...more symptoms »
Although impotence is more common in older and elderly men, it should not be considered a normal part of aging. Impotence can often be treated successfully in men of all ages.
The first step in treating the development of impotence is prevention early in life. Prevention measures include getting regular medical care so that diseases that can cause impotence, such as diabetes ...more treatments »
Fear, embarrassment, and shame are key reasons that a diagnosis of impotence can be missed or delayed. In addition, many men do not seek medical care for a diagnosis and treatment because they assume that impotence is a normal part of aging. It is important to understand that impotence is not a natural part of getting older and that it often can be successfully treated in men of all ages.
If ...more misdiagnosis »
Symptoms of Impotence
Read more about symptoms of Impotence
Treatments for Impotence
See full list of 26
treatments for Impotence
Home Diagnostic Testing
Home medical testing related to Impotence:
Wrongly Diagnosed with Impotence?
Impotence: Related Patient Stories
Read more about Deaths and Impotence.
Alternative Treatments for Impotence
Alternative treatments or home remedies that have been listed in various sources as possibly beneficial for Impotence may include:
Types of Impotence
Read more about Types of Impotence
Diagnostic Tests for Impotence
See full list of 9
diagnostic tests for Impotence
Read more about complications of Impotence.
Causes of Impotence
See full list of 196
causes of Impotence
More information about causes of Impotence:
Disease Topics Related To Impotence
Research the causes of these diseases that are similar to, or related to, Impotence:
Impotence: Undiagnosed Conditions
Commonly undiagnosed diseases in related medical categories:
Misdiagnosis and Impotence
Alzheimer's disease over-diagnosed: The well-known disease of Alzheimer's disease
is often over-diagnosed.
Patients tend to assume that any memory...read more »
Dementia may be a drug interaction: A common scenario in aged care is for
a patient to show mental decline to dementia.
Whereas this can, of course, occur due to various medical conditions,
such as a...read more »
Tremor need not be Parkinson's disease: There is the tendency to believe that
any tremor symptom, or shakiness, means Parkinson's disease.
The reality is that there are various possibilities,...read more »
Rare diseases misdiagnosed as Parkinson's disease: A rare genetic
disorder is often misdiagnosed as Parkinson's disease for men in their 50's.
The disease Fragile X disorder can...read more »
Misdiagnosed weight-related causes of infertility: A woman's weight status
can affect her level of fertility.
Although obesity or overweight can in themselves reduce fertility,...read more »
Read more about Misdiagnosis and Impotence
Impotence: Research Doctors & Specialists
Research related physicians and medical specialists:
- Infertility Specialists:
- Pregnancy & Fertility Health Specialists:
- Womens Health Specialists:
- Senior Health Specialists (Geriatrics):
- more specialists...»
Other doctor, physician and specialist research services:
Hospitals & Clinics: Impotence
Research quality ratings and patient safety measures
for medical facilities in specialties related to Impotence:
Hospital & Clinic quality ratings »
Choosing the Best Hospital:
More general information, not necessarily in relation to Impotence,
on hospital performance and surgical care quality:
Impotence: Rare Types
Rare types of diseases and disorders in related medical categories:
Latest Treatments for Impotence
See full list of 19
latest treatments for Impotence
More Impotence animations & videos
Prognosis for Impotence
Prognosis for Impotence:
Impotence is treatable in all age groups, and awareness of this fact
has been growing. More men have been seeking help and returning to
near-normal sexual activity because of improved, successful treatments for
(Source: excerpt from Impotence: NIDDK)
More about prognosis of Impotence
Research about Impotence
Visit our research pages for current research about Impotence treatments.
Clinical Trials for Impotence
The US based website ClinicalTrials.gov lists information on both federally
and privately supported clinical trials using human volunteers.
Some of the clinical trials listed on ClinicalTrials.gov for Impotence include:
See full list of 44
Clinical Trials for Impotence
Statistics for Impotence
Impotence: Broader Related Topics
Types of Impotence
Impotence Message Boards
Related forums and medical stories:
User Interactive Forums
Read about other experiences, ask a question about Impotence, or answer someone else's question, on our message boards:
Article Excerpts about Impotence
Impotence is a consistent inability to sustain an erection sufficient
for sexual intercourse. Medical professionals often use the term "erectile
dysfunction" to describe this disorder and to differentiate it from other
problems that interfere with sexual intercourse, such as lack of sexual
desire and problems with ejaculation and orgasm.
(Source: excerpt from Impotence: NIDDK)
Definitions of Impotence:
The inability to perform sexual intercourse.
- (Source - Diseases Database)
An inability (usually of a male) to copulate
- (Source - WordNet 2.1)
Contents for Impotence:
User Surveys and Discussion Forums
» Next page: What is Impotence?
Medical Tools & Articles:
Tools & Services:
Forums & Message Boards
- Ask or answer a question at the Boards: