Hi Doc V,
Today, I heard about a man who was diagnosed as impotent due to diving (in Singapore, where the quality of medical services is quite high). That made me think of a friend of mine who told me some time back that he’s been suffering from erectile dysfunction for about six months. He dives quite a lot, has 1,500 dives with a recreational dive profile, although once in a while he goes below 150 feet. I know erectile dysfunction can appear due to many different medical and psychological reasons but I would like to ask for the point of view of the medical specialists if there might be a connection.
Thanks in advance,
You are correct that erectile dysfunction (ED) can have a large number of causes. These include vascular disease (e.g., atherosclerosis), diabetes, medications (over 200, given a rough count), hormone imbalances (e.g., testosterone deficiency), neurological (e.g., multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease) and psychological conditions (e.g., depression, anxiety), as well as certain surgeries and radiation therapy for prostate disease.
Although it is very infrequent, ED can be seen when decompression illness results in trauma to certain vasculature in the pelvic region or nerves in the spinal cord (sacral nerve roots). However, due to the complex nature of these systems it would be exceedingly rare for ED to be the sole sign or symptom. One would also expect to see indications of bowel or urinary bladder problems (e.g., urinary incontinence/leakage, urinary retention), ejaculatory dysfunction, motor or sensory abnormalities of the buttocks and legs, or other irregularities.
If your friend has yet to be examined by a urologist or similar qualified specialist, he is urged to do so.
This is educational only and does not constitute or imply a doctor-patient relationship. It is not medical advice to you or any other individual, and should not be construed as such.