The Difference Between Erectile Dysfunction and Impotence

When the topic of inability to achieve a firm erection and last through sexual intercourse arises, we often hear people using the terms erectile dysfunction and impotence. But do these two terms refer to the same things? Are there any differences between erectile dysfunction and impotence?

We asked many people and the vast majority of them didn’t actually know whether these two terms mean the same or not, even though they routinely use them interchangeably.

So let’s get to the end of this once and for all.

The truth is that erectile dysfunction and impotence mean almost the same thing. When we talk about the difficulty of achieving or maintaining an erection that is firm enough to last through sexual intercourse, that is erectile dysfunction.

Impotence, on the other hand, is a slightly broader term. While it also refers to the same issues mentioned above, impotence can also encompass other sexual health concerns. Those can include problems with ejaculation, low sex drive, or difficulty achieving an orgasm.

Also, the term impotence is not as commonly used today as it was in the past.

What Causes Erectile Dysfunction?

In order for a man to get sexually aroused, his brain, emotions, hormones, muscles, nerves, and blood vessels have to work in harmony. If there is a health problem in any of these processes, men can experience erectile dysfunction. At the same time, mental health concerns and stress can cause or aggravate erectile dysfunction.

Common physical conditions that can cause erectile dysfunction include:

  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Heart disease
  • High cholesterol levels
  • Clogged blood vessels
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Tobacco use
  • Certain prescription drugs
  • Peyronie’s disease
  • Sleep disorders
  • Prostate cancer or enlarged prostate treatments
  • Alcoholism/substance abuse
  • Injuries or surgeries that affect the spinal cord or the pelvic area

Common psychological conditions that can cause erectile dysfunction include:

  • Stress
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Relationship problems

How to Prevent Erectile Dysfunction?

In order to prevent erectile dysfunction, we can take certain precautionary measures. Those include managing the existing health conditions, as well as making healthy lifestyle choices.

For instance:

  • Visiting our doctor regularly for check-ups and screening tests
  • Managing heart diseases, diabetes, and other chronic conditions with the help of our doctor
  • Working out regularly
  • Limiting or avoiding excessive cigarette, alcohol, and substance intake
  • Keeping our stress levels low
  • Treating depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions



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