The Causes Of Erectile Dysfunction

Home ] [ Introduction to ED ] Beliefs which cause erection problems ] Background information on ED ] Background information on erectile dysfunction ED ] Physical causes of ED ] Personality and relationship issues as a cause of erectile dysfunction (ED) ] Endocrinological causes of ED ] Vascular disease and ED ] What's causing your erection problems? ] Emotional & psychological problems in ED ] More on causes of ED ] Sleep apnea and erectile dysfunction ] How to control the risk of ED ] Lack of arousal and ED ]
[ Treating, curing and preventing erectile dysfunction ]

Erectile Dysfunction (ED)

What is erectile dysfunction?

If you're a man who can't get an erection hard enough to have sex or if you cannot keep an erection for the duration of sex, then you're said to have erectile dysfunction or impotence to use an old fashioned name. Erectile dysfunction can happen to men of any age but is more common in older men. Some estimates suggest one man in twelve has erectile dysfunction at any one time.

Is erectile dysfunction just something to do with growing older?

Not necessarily. There are many causes of erectile dysfunction, both emotional (mental / psychological) and physical. The latter include:

  • Excessive alcohol and smoking
  • Exhaustion
  • Damage to the brain or spinal-cord
  • Low testosterone levels
  • Liver or kidney failure
  • Multiple sclerosis and other diseases of the nervous system like Parkinson's disease
  • Radiation therapy to the testicles or prostate for cancer
  • Having had a stroke
  • Prostate or bladder surgery
  •  Erectile dysfunction isn't something you should expect to happen as you get older. Certainly older men need more physical stimulation during sex, but that does not mean you have erectile dysfunction. The crucial determinant for a diagnosis of erectile dysfunction is that you can't get hard at all or that you get hard and then lose your erection.

    What causes erectile dysfunction?

    There are some well known illnesses which cause erectile dysfunction. These include 
  • Diabetes
  • Hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol levels)
  • High blood pressure
  • Hypogonadism (a disorder of the testicular endocrine system)
  • Atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) Certainly some of these effects can be remedied by taking medication to keep the condition under control. There are many medication on the market which cause erectile dysfunction as a side-effect. These should be discussed with your doctor in case there is an alternative available.

    What's the most likely cause of erectile dysfunction?

    There are many steps in an erection, and unfortunately, if the process goes wrong at any of them, a man may find he has erectile dysfunction.

    A common cause of erectile dysfunction is damage to any of the tissues of the the penis or pelvic region through atherosclerosis, vascular disease, and neurologic disease (damage to the nerve cells). This explains a large proportion of erectile dysfunction. And a majority of men with diabetes experience erectile dysfunction.

    Aspects of lifestyle like a high fat diet, smoking, and low levels of exercise, both of which contribute to heart disease and vascular problems, also raise a man's risk of experiencing erectile dysfunction.

    Surgery (especially prostatectomy and bladder surgery for cancer) are likely to damage nerves and arteries near the penis, and this can cause erectile dysfunction. Needless to say, any injury to the pelvic regions in general or the penis, spinal cord, prostate and bladder in particular, can lead to erectile dysfunction by harming nerves, smooth muscles, arteries, and fibrous tissues of the corpora cavernosa.

    Many common medicines such as drugs to treat blood pressure, antihistamines, antidepressants, tranquilizers, some appetite suppressants, and even ranitidine and cimetidine (an anti-acid drug) may produce erectile dysfunction as a side effect.

    But the really important thing to know is that psychological factors such as stress, anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, and sexual anxiety caused by fear of sexual failure, are at the root of a large proportion of erectile dysfunction. And to make this more complicated, men whose erectile dysfunction is caused by physical problems usually have emotional reactions such as stress, anxiety, guilt, depression. And finally, other causes of erection problems are smoking, which may affect the blood flow in the veins and arteries of the penis, and hormonal problems including low testosterone.

    Emotional problems as a cause of erectile dysfunction

    Many erectile dysfunction causes are problems in the relationship. Sexual problems can grow to the point where they cause a man to suffer from loss of his erection. Sexual therapy is most effective when both sexual partners go to therapy. Some of the emotional causes of erectile dysfunction include:
  • Feeling stressed from work situations, family circumstances or other life events 
  • Being nervous about sex, anxiety caused by a bad experience such as shame or humiliation, or a previous case of impotence
  • Relationship problems
  • Depression
  • Feeling depressed
  • Being self-conscious about sex or fearing your partner's reaction to you or your sexual abilities

    It's worth looking some more at the various treatment methods available for erectile dysfunction

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