Impotence or erectile dysfunction is a sexual dysfunction in which the male is not able to maintain or even develop an erection of his penis during any sexual performance.

The erection of the penis is a hydraulic effect of the blood entering as well as being retained in the sponge-like bodies of the penis. This process is usually initiated as the result of sexual arousals where signals are being transmitted from the male’s brain down to the nerves in his penis.  The most common causes of erectile dysfunction are diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, neurological problems like trauma from a prostatectomy surgery, drug side effects as well as hormonal insufficiencies or hypogonadism.

On the other hand, psychological impotence takes place when penetration or penis erection fails due to feelings, thoughts or any psychological reasons, rather than physical impossibility or incapability. This is actually less frequent however; it often can be helped and responded. Usually in psychological impotence, it can be duly responded by placebo treatment. Impotence can also have severe psychological consequences since it can result to relationship difficulties as well as masculine image in general.

Aside from treating the underlying causes like potassium deficiency and arsenic contamination, the first treatment line for erectile dysfunction usually consists of the trial PDE5 inhibitor drugs (same as Viagra or sildenafil). In rare cases, erectile dysfunction treatment can also involve prostaglandin tablets in urethra, penile prosthesis, injections into penis, vascular reconstructive surgery or penis pump.

Impotentia coeundi is a latin term which describes the simple inability of the male to insert his penis into a woman’s vagina. However, this term has been mostly replaced by precise and accurate terms. The study of impotence within medicine is generally covered by andrology – a subfield of urology.

Erectile dysfunction or impotence is common worldwide. As a matter of fact, it has been studied that almost 40% of males around the world suffer from impotence occasionally. 

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