There are physical causes and underlying conditions associated with erectile dysfunction:
1. Chronic smoking
Vascular disease which is hardening and narrowing of the arteries is caused by chain-smoking. It causes a reduction in the blood flow throughout the body which can lead to impotence. However, this is associated with age, and accounts for 50% to 60% of impotence in men.
“Men who eat high cholesterol foods are more prone to secondary impotence because of their escalating weight compared to thin men,” says Dr. Kagwa. Their blood pressure is high which causes breathing difficulties. Overweight constricts the veins that transport blood to the penis, thus inability to erect.
3. Diabetes mellitus
Chronic high levels of blood sugar associated with diabetes mellitus often damage small blood vessels and nerves throughout the body. This can impair nerve impulses and blood flow necessary for erection. About 60% of men with diabetes experience secondary impotence.
Most commonly prescribed drugs on the market are known to contribute to secondary impotence when their consumption is abused. This includes drugs for high blood pressure, heart medications, antidepressants, tranquilisers and sedatives.
5. Hormone imbalance
Dr. Kagwa says hormone disorders account for less than 5% of cases of secondary impotence. This is because testosterone deficiency which occurs rarely can result in loss of sexual desire — erection. Having excess levels of the hormone prolactin, reduces levels of testosterone.
6. Poor eating habits
Dr. David Ssali, a naturopathic doctor, says secondary impotence has a bearing on poor eating habits. He says most modern men today eat junk foods instead of natural foods, and drink a lot of alcohol. When this is absorbed by the body, it turns out to be toxic thus clogging all the major arteries and veins that are responsible for pumping blood into the penis for a full erection.
7. Neurological conditions
Spinal cord and brain injuries can cause impotence when they interrupt the transfer of nerve impulses from the brain to the penis. This disrupts its sensitivity which leads to inadequate or lack of erections.
8. Tumour, surgery, radiation therapy
A tumour in the pelvic region or spinal cord can damage veins and nerves needed for erection. Surgery of the colon, prostate gland, bladder, or rectum may damage the nerves and blood vessels involved in erection. Prostate gland cancer surgery often requires removing tissue and nerves surrounding a tumour, which increases the risk of impotence.
Radiotherapy for prostate or bladder cancer can permanently damage these nerves.
However, Dr. Kagwa says new nerve-sparing techniques aimed at lowering the incidence of secondary impotence are being developed and used in these surgeries.
9. Scarring of the tissue
Peyronie’s disease is a rare inflammatory condition that causes scarring of erectile tissue in the penis. However, this scarring effect produces curvature of the penis that can interfere with sexual function and cause painful erections or no erections.
10. Psychological conditions
Depression, guilt, worry, stress, and anxiety can contribute to loss of libido, thus erectile dysfunction.
Compiled by; M.Evelyn