Neurogenic conditions

The term ‘ neurogenic’ refers to anything connected to the nervous system. In this case it refers to illness or disease of the nervous system which can lead to a wide range of health problems which include impotence.

There are a wide range of neurogenic conditions which can cause erectile dysfunction amongst other symptoms. These include:

  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Stroke
  • Spinal injury or tumour

Multiple sclerosis

This progressive and incurable disease affects the brain and spinal cord. Nerve fibres within the brain and spinal cord help to transmit signals between the two. These nerve fibres are covered by a protective layer called myelin which is essential as it enables these signals to freely pass through these fibres.

Multiple sclerosis is a disease of the immune system which then ‘ turns’upon the body and causes an inflammation of the myelin layers. This inflammation prevents the nerve fibres from working correctly.

This causes a range of symptoms which include muscle weakness, dizziness, double vision, muscle spasms and erectile dysfunction.

Parkinson’s disease

This is a degenerative condition of the nervous system which is characterised by mobility problems. Symptoms of this include muscle tremors, poor balance and co-ordination and a general slowing down of all types of movement.

Other symptoms include depression, anxiety, weight loss and sexual problems such as erectile dysfunction.

If erectile dysfunction is caused by Parkinson’s disease then it is often due to a faulty immune system.


A stroke occurs when there is a weakness or blockage (e.g. a blood clot) in an artery to the brain which supplies blood to that area. The brain needs oxygen and other essential nutrients in the blood supply to function as normal. But if the blood supply is cut off it then causes cells within the brain to die which can led to permanent damage.

Many people who have suffered a stroke find that they have less interest in sex and are reluctant to engage in sexual activity due to pain or the fear of triggering another stroke (although this is unlikely).

A stroke can cause weakness or paralysis in areas of the body which may include the genitalia. This can, understandably, be off putting for many couples who are worried about not being able to give or receive pleasure during sex. If the stroke has affected bladder and/or bowel function then this adds another layer of anxiety.

A stroke can cause impotence or ejaculatory problems but there is treatment available which includes penile injections and implants.

Find out more about these in our treating erectile dysfunction section.

One issue to bear in mind is that erectile dysfunction is a warning sign of other serious conditions such as a stroke, heart disease and high blood pressure. In fact, many men with impotence also have high blood pressure which is especially risky.

If you have high blood pressure and impotence then it is important to see your GP as soon as possible to prevent any long term damage.

Spinal injury or tumour

An injury to the spinal cord, a neuro-degenerative disease (e.g. Friedreich’s ataxia) or a tumour in that area will impact upon sexual function and fertility.

A spinal cord injury or tumour can affect nerve impulses or blood supply to the penis which then results in erectile dysfunction. The extent of the impotence will depend upon the severity of the injury or the location of the tumour on the spinal cord.

In other words, the greater the injury the more severe the extent of the impotence.

Signals are sent from the brain and down the spinal cord before being relayed to the penis where they cause an erection. But an injury to the spinal cord at a particular level of the spine will impair the ability to achieve an erection.

Treatment for any of these conditions can restore the ability to get or sustain an erection but it depends upon the individual and the extent of their condition.

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