Traumatic brain injury as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is “a disruption in the normal function of the brain that can be caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head, or penetrating head injury.” TBI can affect one’s physical, neurological, and/ or emotional functioning. The specific symptoms that develop because of a TBI will vary significantly, as they depend on the type of injury, the severity of the injury, as well as the area of the brain that was injured. For some, a TBI may only affect the exact location on the brain where the injury occurred, while for others a TBI could also affect surrounding tissues and cause damage to one’s brain in other areas apart from the initial site. Symptoms that present with TBIs can range in severity and duration. While there are many symptoms associated with TBI, sexual dysfunction, particularly erectile dysfunction (ED), following traumatic brain injury has recently become an area of significant investigation.
Erectile dysfunction also known as impotence, is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as an “inability of a man to maintain an erection sufficient for satisfying sexual activity.” The Mayo Clinic explains “Male sexual arousal is a complex process that involves the brain, hormones, emotions, nerves, muscles and blood vessels. Erectile dysfunction can result from a problem with any of these.” It is, therefore, not unusual for some men to experience a period of reduced libido (sexual drive) following a TBI. Craig Hospital asserts that “as many as 80% of men with severe TBI experience low testosterone levels, or hypogonadism, following injury.” A 2018 study that focused on the risk of erectile dysfunction after TBI published findings that indicate “patients with TBI have a significantly higher risk of developing ED, especially organic ED, than the general population.” It is important to keep in mind that there are many contributing factors that will influence the aftermath of a TBI, including whether an individual develops ED.
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If you are concerned for yourself or a loved one regarding substance abuse and/ or addiction, we recommend reaching out for help as soon as possible. If left untreated, substance abuse can result in long lasting and potentially life-threatening consequences. Keep in mind: you are not alone! There is an entire network of professionals that are available to help and support you and your loved one throughout the recovery process. The earlier you seek support, the sooner your loved one can return to a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life.
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