For men struggling with erectile dysfunction, knowing what nerves control erectile function can be the difference between a successful resolution and an ongoing medical issue. The nerves that provide the necessary stimulation to achieve an erection are often referred to as autonomic nerves, and they are responsible for more than just your genitalia; they are also essential in regulating heart rate, blood pressure and digestion. In this blog post, we’ll explain why these nerves are important for functioning erections as well as how you can go about taking care of them. So if you’ve been struggling to get or maintain an erection, read on to learn more about the critical roles these nerves play in achieving and maintaining sexual arousal.
The autonomic nervous system
The autonomic nervous system is responsible for the involuntary movement of muscles. This includes the muscles involved in erectile function. The autonomic nervous system is made up of two parts: the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. These two systems work together to control the involuntary muscle movements. The sympathetic nervous system promotes sexual arousal, while the parasympathetic nervous system inhibits it.
The pelvic floor
The pelvic floor is a group of muscles, ligaments, and connective tissues that support the organs in the pelvis. These muscles work together to control the bladder and bowel, and to help with sexual function. The nerves that control erectile function are the pudendal nerves. These nerves originate in the sacral spinal cord and travel through the pelvis to the penis or clitoris.
The pelvic floor muscles also help to stabilize the spine, aiding in posture and movement. When these muscles are weak or overstretched, it can lead to conditions such as urinary or fecal incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse, and pain.
Strengthening the pelvic floor through exercises such as Kegels can help with these conditions. Additionally, physical therapy and biofeedback can be used to help improve the function of the pelvic floor muscles.
The pudendal nerve
The pudendal nerve is the primary nerve responsible for erectile function. It originates in the sacral spinal cord and innervates the penis, perineum, and scrotum. The pudendal nerve also provides sensory input to the brain regarding sexual arousal and pleasure.
damage to the pudendal nerve can result in erectile dysfunction. Injury to the pudendal nerve can occur during pelvic surgery, such as prostatectomy or colorectal surgery. Pelvic trauma, such as from a car accident, can also damage the pudendal nerve.
The hypogastric nerve
The hypogastric nerve is a nerve that runs from the lower abdomen to the pelvis. This nerve is responsible for controlling erections. If this nerve is damaged, it can lead to erectile dysfunction.
The cavernous nerves
The cavernous nerves are a pair of spinal nerves that innervate the erectile tissue of the penis. These nerves originate in the sacral plexus and travel through the pelvic cavity to reach the penis. The cavernous nerves are responsible for providing sensation to the penis and for initiating and maintaining erections.
The dorsal penile nerve
The dorsal penile nerve is a branch of the pudendal nerve that innervates the penis. It supplies sensation to the glans and body of the penis. The dorsal penile nerve also helps to control erections by supplying motor fibers to the corpus cavernosum and is involved in ejaculation.
The autonomic nervous system
The autonomic nervous system controls many of the body’s involuntary functions, including blood pressure, heart rate, and digestion. It also plays a role in erectile function.
The autonomic nervous system has two divisions: the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for the “fight or flight” response, while the parasympathetic nervous system controls the “rest and digest” response.
Both divisions of the autonomic nervous system are involved in erectile function. The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for the initial arousal phase, while the parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for maintaining an erection during sexual activity.
If there is an issue with one or both of these systems, it can lead to erectile dysfunction. There are many possible causes of autonomic nerve dysfunction, including diabetes, alcoholism, and certain medications.
The somatic nervous system
The somatic nervous system is responsible for the control of skeletal muscle contraction. It is made up of motor neurons that carry signals from the central nervous system (CNS) to the muscles. The somatic nervous system also contains sensory neurons that relay information from the body to the CNS.
The somatic nervous system is responsible for the conscious control of body movements. It is made up of motor neurons that carry signals from the brain to the muscles. The somatic nervous system also contains sensory neurons that relay information from the body to the brain.
In addition to controlling voluntary movements, the somatic nervous system is also responsible for carrying sensory information from various parts of the body to the brain. This sensory information helps the brain interpret and respond to changes in its environment. For example, if you touch a hot stove, sensory neurons will relay this information to the brain which will then send signals back through the somatic nervous system instructing your muscles to move away from it.
The sympathetic nervous system
The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for the fight-or-flight response, which is the body’s natural reaction to stress. This response includes an increase in heart rate and blood pressure, as well as a decrease in blood flow to the digestive and reproductive systems.
In men, the sympathetic nervous system also plays a role in erectile function. When the body is stressed, the sympathetic nervous system signals the release of norepinephrine, a hormone that inhibits erections. Therefore, stress can lead to difficulties achieving or maintaining an erection.
The parasympathetic nervous system
The parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for controlling erections. The nerve that controls this system is the pudendal nerve. This nerve branches off from the sacral plexus and innervates the penis. When the pudendal nerve is stimulated, it releases a chemical called acetylcholine. This chemical causes the smooth muscle in the penis to relax and allows blood to flow into the corpus cavernosum, resulting in an erection.
How erectile dysfunction occurs
There are many potential causes of erectile dysfunction (ED), and in most cases, it is due to a physical problem. The most common cause of ED is poor blood flow to the penis. This can be due to narrowing of the arteries that supply blood to the penis, or damage to the nerves that control erections. Other potential causes of ED include low levels of testosterone, psychological problems such as anxiety or depression, and side effects from medications.
In order for an erection to occur, blood must be able to fill the corpus cavernosum (the spongy tissue that makes up the bulk of the penis). The corpus cavernosum is surrounded by a thin layer of smooth muscle tissue. When sexual stimulation occurs, this muscle relaxes and allows blood to flow into the corpus cavernosum. The increased blood flow fills the corpora cavernosa and spills over into the surrounding spaces, causing the penis to expand and become rigid.
If blood flow to the penis is insufficient or if it fails to stay within the corpora cavernosa, then an erection will not occur. Poor blood flow can be due to narrowing of the arteries that supply blood to the penis (arterial insufficiency) or damage to the nerves that control erections (neurogenic ED). Arterial insufficiency is often caused by atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. This can happen as a result of aging, diabetes, smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or obesity. Neurogenic ED can be due to nerve damage caused by surgery, trauma, diabetes, radiation, or certain medications. Low levels of testosterone can also cause ED by decreasing libido and sexual arousal. Psychological causes such as anxiety, depression, and stress can also lead to ED.
Treatments for erectile dysfunction
There are several treatments for erectile dysfunction, including:
-Oral medications such as sildenafil (Viagra), tadalafil (Cialis), and vardenafil (Levitra)
-Intracavernosal injections of alprostadil (Caverject Impulse, Edex)
Your doctor will likely start with the least invasive treatment and move to more invasive treatments if the first line of treatment does not work.
Understanding what nerves control erectile function is important for healthcare providers when treating patients with sexual dysfunction. An understanding of the anatomy and physiology of these nerves helps medical professionals to better diagnose, treat and manage any issues related to sexual health. Additionally, having an understanding of the role that these nerves play allows individuals to make informed decisions about their own health in order to ensure they maintain optimal sexual function.
Leave a Reply