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Causes of Erectile Dysfunction
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Causes of erectile dysfunction
Erectile dysfunction can be caused by several factors. The structure of the penis involves two cylindrical, sponge like structures which run along the length of the penis. These structures run parallel to the urethra, a tube through which semen and urine travels. During sexual arousal, nerve impulses increase the blood flow to the cylinders by approximately 7 times the amount when unaroused. The increased blood flow expands the sponge like structures, producing an erection. As arousal continues, so does the increased blood flow. This keeps the erection firm. After the sexual arousal ends or after ejaculation, the excess blood drains from the sponge like tissues and the erection subsides.
This process involves arousal (sexual excitation), the central nervous system (sexual arousal communicated to the body) and the circulatory system (blood flow through blood vessels into the penis). Any difficulties in any of these processes or a combination of these processes can cause erectile dysfunction.
There also exist nonphysical causes for erectile dysfunction. The most common of these are stress, fatigue, depression and anxiety. As well, relationship problems leading to feelings of inadequacy or hostility can factor into erectile dysfunction.
Other physical conditions can play a role. These include cardiovascular disorders, medications, diabetic neuropathy, surgical procedures, alcohol abuse, multiple sclerosis, hormonal disorders, drug abuse and certain cancers. In fact, erectile dysfunction may be one of the first signs of an underlying medical problem.
It is frequently the case that both physical and psychological factors interact to cause erectile dysfunction. One often feeds off the other. Emotional problems can lead to physical difficulties, and physical difficulties can contribute to psychological problems.
For more information about erectile dysfunction and it's treatment, read through the Mayo Clinic's erectile dysfunction pages. The National Institutes of Health offers excellent information about erectile dysfunction and it's causes and treatments.
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