Mind Candy

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Causes of erectile dysfunction

Posted by mandyf on January 20, 2012

It has been said many times that the penis has a mind of its own – and men will tell you that is true to a large degree. Erections come and go with seemingly no regard for when they are and are not desired. There is a hot willing woman in your bed and nothing happens, it just mocks you. You’re in the frozen food section of the grocery store and for no reason there it is. Why does the body condone such a heinous act of betrayal? To understand erectile dysfunction, you first have to understand a healthy erection.

The answer lies within our ancestors. In what has to be one of the creator’s little jokes. The portion of the brain that controls orgasms shares space with the portion of the brain that controls the “Fight or flight” survival mechanism. Put the two together and it’s more laughs than a John Belushi SNL skit – unless you’re involved in the failure to launch.

Erections, like the survival mechanism that cues us in to what to do in a confrontational situation are both involuntary reactions. Sometimes the signals get mixed and things don’t happen. Scientifically speaking, two chemicals are responsible for controlling these reactions – norepinephrine and epinephrine. Norepinephrine likes to take things slow and assess the situation before kicking in. Epinephrine jumps right into the fire and gets things done ASAP.

Each chemical is triggered by excitement. If proper balance is maintained you have no erectile problems. If there is too much norepinephrine an erection will be little more than a distant memory. Too much epinephrine and it is hello Mr. Softie. Actually with an excess of epinephrine an erection can be realized, it just won’t hang around long enough to storm the beach. Either way the result isn’t good.

There are other reasons men have erectile dysfunction, however many are clouded with a certain amount of myth. A lingering reason riddled with myth is that a man doesn’t find their partner attractive. There is a hint of truth to this, but not to the point a man cannot have an erection. If attraction is the issue maintaining an erection could be a problem, but with sufficient physical contact even a person thought to be hideous to the bearer of the penis can usually get it up and keep it up through completion.

Certain physical conditions like fatigue, limited blood flow to the arteries that feed the genital area, heart disease, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure can all cause erectile dysfunction.

Similarly things like alcohol/drug use and certain prescription medications can lead to erectile dysfunction. Then of course there are some psychological barriers which can potentially lead to erectile dysfunction.

Things like low self esteem, stress, and anxiety can all impact an erection. They can lead to failure to achieve an erection or failure to maintain one. Then for the really hard up – no pun intended – it can be a combination of all of the above factors. The main thing is no matter what the factors are, they almost all lend them self to throwing off the balance of epinephrine and norepinephrine in some manner even if very subtly.

One way to eliminate psychological factors at home is to find out if the male in question can achieve and maintain an erection masturbating, or if they can achieve an erection in a sleeping state. If any of those thing is possible, you can then work through the checklist and one by one begin ruling out other possibilities. A final tip is to try non-genital stimulation with your partner. This would include activities like kissing, cuddling, massage, even talking dirty can work in some cases.

The main thing to remember about erectile dysfunction is that there is usually an identifiable root cause of the problem and once it is identified treatment can effectively reverse the course more often than not. Do not hesitate to be up front with your physician – they have heard it all before – or with your therapist should that be the proper course of treatment for you. Without the correct input they can not provide the right course of action. For further information, visit AASECT.


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