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Psychological Issues

While many naturally assume that physical or medical problems are the cause of infertility, it is critical to realize that certain types of male infertility may have a psychological component. Psychological issues – often a result of stress or depression – may lead to conditions such as erectile dysfunction and impotence.

Erectile Dysfunction and Impotence

In simple terms, erectile dysfunction is the inability to get or maintain an erection needed for intercourse. This term also describes a situation where males can only sustain an erection for a brief period of time. Impotence may refer to lack of sexual desire and problems with ejaculation or orgasm (premature ejaculation, inability to ejaculate/reach orgasm).

In older men with erectile dysfunction, physical factors are likely to blame, but in younger men, psychological problems are likely the cause. According to the National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NKUDIC), about 5 percent of 40-year-old men, and between 15 percent to 25 percent of 65-year-old men, experience erectile dysfunction. Contrary to popular belief, it is not an inevitable part of aging.

Many physicians believe that psychological factors can often result in sexual dysfunction. Possible causes include stress, anxiety, depression, and the fear of failing to perform. Although difficult topics to discuss with others, erectile dysfunction and impotence are serious conditions that can tremendously affect a couple and their hopes for conceiving.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Physical and psychosocial examinations as well as laboratory tests are available to diagnose these problems effectively. A physician may also recommend other tests such as monitoring erections that occur while you sleep, which can help evaluate the situation and further determine if a condition is caused by psychological factors. In some instances, psychological counseling or therapy is recommended.

Medical treatment options may include creams applied topically to the penis to enhance erection and penile injections of ephedrine to help induce an erection. Oral medications that help obtain and maintain an erection include Viagra, Levitra, and Cialis.


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