Today’s society is a sexual playing field. Celebrities on television and movies, models on the covers of magazines, and even politicians have become sexual legends in the map of American society. The issue of sex is publicly discussed, on media and otherwise, and as such, it has become, to a great degree, a measure of self-worth. Issues such as breast size, penis size, and sexual stamina have flooded the American public with the idea that one is defined by how sexually appealing s/he is.
As a result, it has become of monumental importance to the American male to remain sexually vigorous and virile. It is clear to see (in media especially) that the ‘perfect male’ is about twenty five years old with a rippling physique and a beautiful woman next to him. Never once, when we see our ‘perfect man,’ do we ever think that he could suffer from any form of sexual dysfunction. The ‘perfect man’ is young and virile.
The truth, however, is that the general population of men in this country is getting older. The proverbial baby-boomers are on the cusp of reaching a stage in their sexual life where dysfunction is no longer a weakness in ‘littler’ men, but a reality. As such, erectile dystfunction (or impotence) has become a headlines making issue, from the physiological explanations behind it to the social implications that come with being impotent.
This paper will first look into the physiological and psychological causes of erectile dysfunction in men. Then, this paper will delve into the advances that have been made in preventing erectile dysfunction. Finally, this paper will explore the ramifications both erectile dysfunction and ‘cures’ have on the majority of the men affected by it, older persons.
In order to understand the causes of erectile dysfunction, a superficial physiological explanation is necessary:
The previous diagram is an illustration of a cross-section of a penis.
The means of achieving an erection in males is a very complicated process. In the interest of conciseness and efficiency, only a brief overview will be given.
An erection is achieved, strictly physiologically speaking, when blood enters into the penis at via the penile arteries. During this time, the corpora cavernosa, which are essentially tubes of spongy tissue that contain “smooth muscles, fibrous tissues, spaces, veins and arteries,” (http://www.urologychannel.com/erectiledysfunction/index.shtml) begin to relax, as the blood starts to flow in. As this inflow causes the penis to enlarge and swell, the tunica albuginea help keep the blood from leaving the expanding penis. Simultaneously, the veins are being constricted by the ever hardening spongy tissue of the corpora cavernosa, making the outflow of blood relatively low. In due time, the corpora cavernosa will completely fill with blood, giving the penis a hard, rigid composure. Once fully engorged, the veins and arteries within the penis let in and out the flow of blood at an equal rate, thereby maintaining stiffness. This is, in essence, an erection. (NIH 9-10)
Erectile dysfunction refers to a condition in which a patient is 1) completely unable to achieve an erection; 2) frequently unable to achieve an erection; 3) able to achieve an erection but unable to maintain it. (http://www.urologychannel.com/erectiledysfunction/index.shtml) There can be many reasons for erectile dysfunction, ranging from purely physiological issues to psychological problems.
In an impotent patient, an insufficient amount of blood reaches the corpora cavernosa at too slow a rate. In other words, the arteries are not allowing the quick transfer of blood that the penis needs to maintain an erection. The blood is flowing in too slowly, while it is flowing out too quickly. This leads to the undeniable conclusion that erectile dysfunction is closely...