Impotence or erectile dysfunction is the inability to get an erection, long enough as required for satisfactory sex.
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The penis works by allowing blood into the spongy tissues of the penis but restricting its outflow. Anything affecting the arteries, veins or nerves that bring this about will influence the ability to have an erection.

Some medicines are known to cause problems with erections:

  • Some anti-depressives are capable of making erectile dysfunction even worse. Your doctor will be able to advise you.
  • Some anti-hypertensive drugs for high blood pressure are common culprits. ACE inhibitors, alpha and beta blockers and calcium channel blockers may cause problems for some people.

Alcohol is a common cause. Obviously, binge drinking has an immediate effect, but chronic alcohol abuse can lead to permanent problems with erectile dysfunction.

Diseases that affect the nerves or blood supply can also cause problems:

  • Multiple sclerosis is the commonest spinal cord disease that causes erectile dysfunction. There can also be bladder problems.
  • Diabetes can cause a peripheral nerve problem that affects the ability to have an erection.

Around 25 per cent of erectile dysfunction is caused by problems with the system of blood vessels. These problems often start gradually, and alcohol may make them worse.

Other sources of information for these topics.

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Erectile Dysfunction
Fact sheet including illustrated information on the physiology of erection, causes of impotence, diagnosis, treatment and anticipated future treatment ...

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