Erection Problems (Erectile Dysfunction) (cont.)
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Erection problems (erectile dysfunction) may be caused by physical problems related to the blood vessels, nerves, and hormones or by psychological issues. Physical problems cause about 8 out of 10 cases of erectile dysfunction.
Normally, an erection occurs when your imagination or senses (vision, hearing, touch, smell, taste) are stimulated and you become aroused. Your central nervous system sends nerve impulses that increase blood flow to your penis. Blood fills the spongy chambers (corpora cavernosa) in the penis, causing them to expand and become rigid.
Four requirements for a normal erection are:
Physical causes of erection problems include long-term (chronic) and short-term (acute) injuries and complications of prostate or other surgery that interfere with nerve impulses or blood flow to the penis. Physical problems are often the cause of erection difficulties in men age 50 or older.
Activities that restrict blood flow to the penis also may result in erection problems. Some doctors have observed that men who regularly ride bicycles over long distances are more likely to have erection problems than men who ride only occasionally, especially if they ride on a narrow, unpadded saddle. But the possible link between bicycle riding and erection problems has not been proved.
A vasectomy usually does not cause an erection problem. But pain after the operation may affect sexual performance for a while. And if a man was not comfortable with his decision to have a vasectomy, or is having second thoughts, it could affect him psychologically.
Psychological causes of erection problems include depression (which also has a physical component), anxiety, stress, grief, or problems with current or past relationships. These interfere with the erection process by distracting the man from things that would normally arouse him. Erection problems in men younger than 40 who have no physical risk factors are more likely to be caused by psychological factors than physical causes.
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