Of all sexual problems experienced by men, impotence (also known as erectile dysfunction) can be one of the most embarrassing and life-altering.
For those who seek help, psychosexual therapy can be hugely beneficial in treating this condition, and addressing the psychological issues that may lay behind it.
However in some cases impotence can be a sign of serious medical conditions.
Erectile dysfunction typically occurs in older men. This is because as we age, our arteries get narrower and less elastic, resulting in high blood pressure, which can reduce blood flow to the penis.
According to Dr Graham Jackson, a cardiologist and chairman of the Sexual Advice Association, impotence occurs on average three years before a heart problem develops – especially in middle-aged men in their 40s and 50s.
“Men with erectile dysfunction are 50 times more likely to have heart problems than men with normal heart function,” he told the Daily Mail.
Therefore, if you or a loved one is experiencing erectile dysfunction, make sure you get your cholesterol and heart levels checked and aim to eat healthily and exercise regularly to reduce the risk.
Diabetes is thought to be undiagnosed in half a million people in the UK and if left untreated this condition can lead to damage in the nerves and blood vessels – leading to further health problems. Impotence may be a sign of diabetes, and at least 50% of diabetics will experience it at some point, so be sure to get this checked by your GP.
Prostrate problems are common in older men and can lead to erectile dysfunction as well as pain and difficulty passing urine. Prostatitis is a bacterial infection which causes the prostrate gland to become swollen, but can be easily treated with medication.
Prostrate cancer on the other hand will require more advanced treatment methods, although early prostrate cancer can be treated surgically which will provide a better chance of erection afterwards.