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Causes of Erectile Dysfunction linked to the Hypothalamus
The importance of the hypothalamus is essential for a healthy erection.
It is a small section of the brain which contains tiny nuclei that have a variety of different functions.
One of its most important jobs is the production of the body’s most essential hormones and chemical substances that control many cells in the body. The hypothalamus links the nervous system to the endocrine system through the medium of the pituitary gland. The hypothalamus is part of the limbic system and in humans it is about the size of an almond. It is located under a gland called thalamus which is just above the brainstem.
The management of erectile dysfunction in recent years has changed dramatically. Because of medical advances in molecular biology we have been given a much better understanding of erectile dysfunction and the reasons behind erectile dysfunction… why it occurs, as well as the path physiology of erectile dysfunction. Until quite recently any research in to ED or erectile dysfunction concentrated mainly on peripheral neurophysiology and the tissues of the penis, which was very successful due to the development of highly efficient drugs and penile injections. But the problem is that they don’t work for everyone. Researchers started to think about looking at treating ED or erectile dysfunction in an indirect way and so they turned to the central nervous system. Unlike Sildenafil which is very efficient for treating erectile dysfunction, it only acts on the tissues in the penis and not the areas of the brain that involve the sex drive and impotence. In the mid 80’s they started to develop medications that only target the central nervous system in the brain as way of dealing with the problems of erectile dysfunction. The first of these agents that researchers looked in too was called apomorphine. This drug had been used to treat Parkinson’s disease for well over a hundred years, and proved useful for treating things like alcoholism, Alzheimer’s disease, erectile dysfunction and some drug addictions. But as far as treating ED they found apomorphine, when taken sublingual (under the tongue), that it didn’t affect the sex drive directly but once sexually stimulated it did produce an erection.
The hypothalamus helps to control the pituitary gland by sending signals to it to release or inhibit pituitary hormones.
The pituitary is often referred to as the ‘master gland’ so if it was being sent wrong signals you can see why it could cause erectile dysfunction and malfunction!