Content Approved by Dr Fotinos | Male Excel Blog Apr 15, 2020 3:35:57 PM 12 min read

What Causes Erectile Dysfunction (E.D)?

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Erectile dysfunction (ED) is far more common than you might think and often perfectly treatable. Most men will experience some form of ED during their life. Often it's temporary, and the solution is simple. Factors like stress, too much alcohol, anxiety, or tiredness can all make men flop when it's time to perform. However, it can be life-changing for many when ED becomes a recurring problem.

What are the Common Causes of Erectile Dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction can have a range of causes, both physical and psychological. The good news is that if you treat the cause, symptoms often subside.

Physical causes:

  • Heart disease
  • Blocked blood vessels (atherosclerosis)
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Certain prescription medications including some blood pressure, antidepressants, and hormone meds.
  • Smoking
  • Peyronie's disease — development of scar tissue inside the penis which can result in a bent penis which can be painful during sex
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Illegal drugs
  • Sleep disorders
  • Treatments for prostate cancer or enlarged prostate
  • Damage to the pelvic area or spinal cord through surgery or accidents.
  • Low testosterone
  • Nerve damage

Psychological Causes

  • Depression
  • Stress
  • Relationship problems

Sometimes ED only occurs in specific situations. You may find you can quickly get an erection during masturbation, but when it comes to contact with a partner, you find it impossible. You may wake up with full morning glory yet be unable to become sexually aroused when it counts. In these cases, it is almost certainly a psychological issue, and by dealing with these issues, you will most likely attain full sexual function again.

Lifestyle Factors Which Can Cause ED?

The best way to avoid getting erectile dysfunction is to make healthy lifestyle choices. Obesity, smoking, alcohol and drug abuse, poor diet, and a sedentary lifestyle can be significant factors in developing ED.

Eat Plenty of Fresh Homemade Food

A poor diet not only affects your energy levels but will play havoc with your general health. It will clog your arteries and cause diabetes and heart disease, significant causes of ED. Cut out too much sugar and fatty foods and introduce plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables into your diet. Eating a healthy diet will reduce your chances of being obese and lessen your risk of getting ED and type 2 diabetes.

Get Lots of Exercise

We recommend getting at least 30 minutes of exercise 5 times a week. Exercise improves cardiovascular health, strengthens your heart, and improves circulation. Erections are directly affected by poor circulation and heart health.

Exercise will also boost your energy and is a great stress buster. With more energy, you will be more likely to be able to perform in the bedroom -- and let's face it -- sex is an excellent form of exercise!

Quit Smoking

Smoking cigarettes causes damage to your body in many ways, and in particular, it can damage your blood vessels. Therefore, it is not surprising that poor arterial supply to your penis can cause ED. If you stop smoking, your blood circulation can start to improve, on average, within 2-12 weeks. Your risk of a heart attack drops significantly along with improved lung function, and your chances of getting and maintaining an erection are vastly improved.

Deal with Stress and Anxiety

Stress is a huge factor when it comes to erections and the ability to engage in sexual activity. Relationship issues, work issues, resentment, anger, and even a lack of action can seriously damage libido. It's best to talk to a partner or health professional to find the root of the problem. A problem shared is a problem solved.

What Meds Can Cause ED?

A long list of prescription and over-the-counter medications can cause ED. This includes certain blood pressure medications, diuretics, chemotherapy drugs, antidepressants, Parkinson's disease meds, and even some antihistamines and painkillers. If your doctor thinks your medication may be the cause of ED, it may simply be a case of reducing dosage or switching to an alternative.

Keep trying

It is incredibly frustrating for both partners if you can't get hard enough for full penetration. You may find that persistence could be the answer; even if you can't get hard enough for proper sex, you can still ejaculate without a hard-on. With repeated attempts, you can improve the blood flow to the penis and prevent problems from occurring, and in some cases, solve the issue.

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Your Heart and Erectile Dysfunction

Your heart health is vital for gaining an erection, and ED is often an early sign of cardiovascular disease. Think of your heart as a pump and your penis like a balloon, and the pump fills up your penis until ejaculation, then drains the blood away. If that pump or any of the arteries or veins along the way are faulty, you could be a flop.

Atherosclerosis (arteriosclerotic vascular disease) is a condition where plaque builds up in your arteries, restricting blood flow around your body. Plaque is a combination of fat, cholesterol, calcium, and other substances found in the blood. Any restriction to blood flow can restrict the flow to the penis, causing ED. You will have an increased risk of angina, heart attack, stroke, and other cardiovascular conditions.

Simple lifestyle changes such as improved diet, stopping smoking, exercising, and losing weight can all help reduce the risks.

Blood supply to the penis

Diabetes and Erectile Dysfunction

ED is a very complex condition with varying causes, from psychological to physical. As the body changes over the years, the blood vessels, muscles, nerves, and loss of desire can all affect the ability to attain an erection. Diabetes can cause damage to the blood supply to the penis and the nerves involved in getting an erection. When a man gets sexually excited, his body produces nitric oxide, which triggers the blood vessels to relax, allowing more blood into the penis, causing an erection.

People with diabetes have higher blood sugar levels, which inhibits nitric oxide production. Without relaxed blood vessels, this restricts the blood flow to the penis and the ability to get hard. Statistics say that around 35% to 50% of diabetic men suffer from erectile dysfunction.

Nerve Damage and Surgery

Neurological causes of erectile dysfunction include diabetes, alcoholism, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord damage, nerve injuries due to trauma, heavy metal poisoning, and nerve damage during operations. In particular, prostate surgery due to cancer is a common cause of ED. The prostate is essentially part of your reproductive system, and this is where the cavernous nerve is found. This nerve facilitates erections, and unfortunately, during prostate surgery, this critical nerve is at high risk of damage.

Performance Anxiety and Stress

Research has shown that being anxious about your sexual performance makes you feel incapable of pleasing your partner. Low self-esteem and poor body image often make these negative feelings worse.

Anxiety and stress trigger the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline, which ultimately damage your libido and can even cause depression. Chronic stress and chronically high cortisol levels also cause a drop in testosterone, reducing desire and erection quality.

Erectile dysfunction 

Erectile dysfunction is often treatable and should not be a life sentence. If you can treat the underlying cause, you have a good chance of getting back your boner. Even if the reason is a physical medical condition, you can get help. ED medication is now standard therapy for ED sufferers. Drugs such as Sildenafil (Generic Viagra®) and Tadalafil (Generic Cialis ®) are incredibly effective for between 70% to 80% of patients.

With a combination of proper evaluation and a healthy lifestyle, ED can be prevented and even reversed. Medication is also perfectly acceptable and a great solution for millions of men worldwide.

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Disclaimer: The information provided on this page is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any questions or concerns about your health, please consult a doctor.