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What is the Difference Between Impotence and Erectile Dysfunction?

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  • Written By: Traci Behringer
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 16 November 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
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In the medical world, many conditions tend to be similar or related to others; because of this, it's not surprising that many people use the terms impotence and erectile dysfunction interchangeably. While it's true that these terms are related, they aren't exactly the same thing. Impotence is simply a type of erectile dysfunction. Think of it like this: A Honda is a type of vehicle. Though all Hondas are vehicles, not all vehicles are Hondas; in both cases, there is a connection, but not an identical match.

Erectile dysfunction comes in a few different forms. Some men lose an erection earlier than desired and others cannot achieve or maintain an erection to begin with; the latter would classify as impotence. Diagnosing a man with either condition requires a physical examination, laboratory tests, and knowing the patient's history.

Either condition can be devastating to a man who might think of the problem as a physical failure by his body. This may not be the case; while physical problems are a possibility, underlying conditions of impotence and erectile dysfunction tend to be emotional rather than physical. A sufferer may be overwhelmed with worry, fear or stress — and it doesn't get better if he's worrying specifically about his performance. Anger and depression are also notorious for causing temporary impotence. Of course, physical problems still can come into play; men with a groin injury, who are on medication or who have hardened arteries might also experience impotence and erectile dysfunction.

This sexual dysfunction can also become a more serious problem in some cases. Permanent impotence affects many men in the world, and it can threaten self-esteem and future relationships. Smoking and alcohol consumption are among the most common reasons for developing this condition later in life.

Treating impotence and erectile dysfunction can happen in a number of different ways, depending on the cause. If the underlying condition is emotional, then a doctor will likely suggest a psychotherapist. Psychotherapy works to lessen the amount of anxiety, either by showing a man that his partner isn't judging him and is willing to work through the problem with him, or by helping him to figure out whatever is causing him to worry so much in the first place. Additionally, a psychotherapist will help to slowly work on improving intimacy and closeness that can further boost treatment results.

Psychotherapy isn't the only treatment option. Drug therapy will likely be more suitable if the underlying condition has a medical basis. For example, a doctor may prescribe medication that can directly help encourage sexual arousal, or he can prescribe medication to treat the underlying physical conditions, making natural arousal more likely to happen.

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