Impotence Symptoms, Causes & Common Questions

Understand your impotence symptoms with Buoy, including 9 causes and common questions concerning your impotence.

This symptom can also be referred to as: erectile dysfunction

  1. 9 Possible Impotence Causes
  2. Real-Life Stories
  3. Impotence FAQ
  4. Questions Your Doctor May Ask
  5. Statistics
  6. Related Articles

9 Possible Impotence Causes

The list below shows results from the use of our quiz by Buoy users who experienced impotence. This list does not constitute medical advice and may not accurately represent what you have.

Erectile dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a common problem affecting millions of men. Patients with ED are unable to get and maintain an erection during sex.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: impotence

Symptoms that always occur with erectile dysfunction: impotence

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Late onset hypogonadism

Late onset hypogonadism is also called LOH, androgen deficiency, or testosterone deficiency syndrome (TDS.)

It is a reduction in testosterone production sometimes found in men over 50. A small amount of loss is natural due to aging, but LOH causes symptoms that may be severe and can interfere with quality of life.

Testosterone is needed to maintain the male reproductive system, but it also influences many other functions including metabolism, bone density, muscle strength and formation, and clear thinking.

LOH is most often caused by a direct loss of functioning in the testicles due to the combination of aging and other illnesses, especially those which interfere with circulation such as obesity, diabetes, or heart disease.

It may also be due to malfunction in the hypothalamus and/or pituitary glands in the brain, which control hormone levels.

Symptoms include erectile dysfunction as well as a decrease in libido, muscle strength, and energy. Osteoporosis is also a risk.

Diagnosis is made through patient history and blood tests. Treatment involves testosterone replacement therapy, which usually has very positive effects.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: fatigue, difficulty concentrating, trouble sleeping, depressed mood, irritability

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Spinal stenosis

The spine, or backbone, protects the spinal cord and allows people to stand and bend. Spinal stenosis causes narrowing in the spine. The narrowing puts pressure on nerves and the spinal cord and can cause pain.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: lower back pain, back pain that shoots down the leg, back pain that shoots to the butt, difficulty walking, thigh pain

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Diabetic neuropathy

Diabetic neuropathy is nerve damage caused by longstanding or poorly controlled diabetes mellitus (DM). Other risk factors for developing diabetic neuropathy include obesity, smoking, cardiovascular disease, and abnormal lipid levels.

Diabetic neuropathy can present as a number ...

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Panic or anxiety attack(s)

Panic or anxiety attacks are sudden feelings of intense fear or stress without true danger. Symptoms usually peak and then decrease within minutes. One may feel as if they are losing control or have physical symptoms like sweating or a racing heart. A panic attack can be a very scary experience and should be taken seriously.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms:

Symptoms that always occur with panic or anxiety attack(s): anxiety or anxiety/panic attacks

Urgency: Primary care doctor


Depression is a mental disorder in which a person feels constantly sad, hopeless, discouraged, and loses interest in activities and life on more days than not. These symptoms interfere with daily life, work, and friendships.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: fatigue, depressed mood, headache, anxiety, irritability

Symptoms that always occur with depression: depressed mood

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Multiple sclerosis (ms)

Multiple sclerosis, or MS, is a disease of the central nervous system. The body's immune system attacks nerve fibers and their myelin covering. This causes irreversible scarring called "sclerosis," which interferes with the transmission of signals between the brain and the body.

The cause is unknown. It may be connected to a genetic predisposition. The disease usually appears between ages 20 to 50 and is far more common in women than in men. Other risk factors include family history; viral infections such as Epstein-Barr; having other autoimmune diseases; and smoking.

Symptoms include numbness or weakness in arms, legs, or body; partial or total loss of vision in one or both eyes; tingling or shock-like sensation, especially in the neck; tremor; and loss of coordination.

Diagnosis is made through patient history, neurological examination, blood tests, MRI, and sometimes a spinal tap.

There is no cure for MS, but treatment with corticosteroids and plasma exchange (plasmapheresis) can slow the course of the disease and manage symptoms for better quality of life.

Rarity: Rare

Top Symptoms: severe fatigue, constipation, numbness, decreased sex drive, signs of optic neuritis

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Parkinson's disease

Parkinson's disease is a lifelong condition movement disorder. It is caused by the malfunction and death of nerve cells which results in symptoms like tremors.

Rarity: Rare

Top Symptoms: anxiety, depressed mood, difficulty concentrating, nausea, constipation

Symptoms that always occur with parkinson's disease: symptoms of parkinsonism

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Cauda equina syndrome (slow-onset)

Although leg pain is common and usually goes away without surgery, cauda equina syndrome, a rare disorder affecting the bundle of nerve roots (cauda equina) at the lower (lumbar) end of the spinal cord, is a surgical emergency.

Rarity: Ultra rare

Top Symptoms: lower back pain, back pain that shoots to the butt, back pain that shoots down the leg, leg weakness, thigh numbness

Urgency: Hospital emergency room

Real-life Stories

Once your story is reviewed and approved by our editors, it will live on Buoy as a helpful resource for anyone who may be dealing with something similar. If you want to learn more, try Buoy Assistant.

FAQs About Impotence

Here are some frequently asked questions about impotence.

Why do I have sudden erectile dysfunction?

Sudden erectile dysfunction (ED) can be a sign of impingement of a nerve in the spine that provides sensation or erection to the penis. If you have a sudden loss of sensation, or sudden erectile dysfunction following a blow to the body or particularly wild or jerky movement, you may have compressed a never in your spine and should seek medical attention immediately.

What causes erectile dysfunction in young men?

Erectile dysfunction (ED) in young men is more often psychological than functional. Data suggests that erectile dysfunction in young men may be increasing rapidly because of the abundance of internet pornography. Internet pornography can be addictive, and if one becomes accustomed to more severe or a wider variety of sexual acts through pornography, it may be difficult to maintain an erection with a physical partner.

What is the average age for erectile dysfunction?

The average age for erectile dysfunction (ED) has been reported at 40 years old. However, the most recent survey was before the internet era (1994) and so may not reflect changes in sexual appetites or behaviors over the last quarter-century. It is likely much lower.

Can erectile dysfunction be cured completely?

Yes, depending on the cause. It is possible that psychological erectile dysfunction can be cured, usually through either sexual therapy, couples counseling, or individual cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or some mixture of the three. Erectile dysfunction from damage to the nerve that the brain uses to communicate to the penis, or damage to the blood vessels that supply the erectile tissue of the penis may possibly be repairable using surgery.

Can you get pregnant from a man with erectile dysfunction?

Yes, it is possible as long as the man is capable of ejaculating for one to conceive. It is also possible to conceive using in-vitro insemination after harvesting and selecting healthy sperm from his testicles. It can either be inserted into the woman's uterus after she has taken a pill to cause ovulation, or the two can be united in a test tube outside of the mother and the fertilized egg can be inserted into the mother or an appropriate surrogate.

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Impotence

To diagnose this condition, your doctor would likely ask the following questions:

  • Have you been feeling more tired than usual, lethargic or fatigued despite sleeping a normal amount?
  • Are you sexually active?
  • Do you feel pain when you urinate?
  • Have you noticed a decrease in your libido or sex drive?

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions

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Impotence Symptom Checker Statistics

People who have experienced impotence have also experienced:

  • 12% Fewer Erections
  • 4% Fatigue
  • 3% Decreased Sex Drive

People who have experienced impotence were most often matched with:

  • 33% Erectile Dysfunction
  • 33% Late Onset Hypogonadism
  • 33% Spinal Stenosis

Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from Buoy Assistant (a.k.a. the quiz).

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