Kelley Wyant
Article by: Kelley Wyant
Estimated 7 minutes read

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is far more common than you think and is often perfectly treatable. Most men will experience some form of ED during their life. Often it's temporary, and the solution is simple. What causes erectile dysfunction varies, including stress, too much alcohol, anxiety, and tiredness. All of which can make men flop when it's time to perform. However, it can be life-changing for many when ED becomes a recurring problem. So what are the common causes of ED?

What are the Common Causes of Erectile Dysfunction?

There are many causes of ED, both physical and psychological. The good news is that symptoms often subside if you treat the cause.

  • 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 include blood pressure, antidepressants, and hormone drugs.
  • Smoking
  • Peyronie's disease: which causes 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 cannot 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 causes of ED.

Eat Plenty of Fresh Homemade Food

A poor diet affects your energy levels and will affect 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, particularly when 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 considerable factor affecting erections and the ability to engage in sexual activity. Relationship problems, 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, 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 good 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

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. The pump fills up your penis until ejaculation then drains the blood away. If that pump or any 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 complex condition with varying psychological and physical causes. 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 and producing 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 is the location of the cavernous nerve. This nerve facilitates erections; unfortunately, this critical nerve is at high risk of damage during prostate surgery.

Performance Anxiety and Stress

Research shows that anxiety about your sexual performance can make 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 sexual 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. Sildenafil (Generic Viagra®) and Tadalafil (Generic Cialis ®) are incredibly effective for 70% to 80% of patients.

With proper evaluation and a healthy lifestyle, ED is often reversible and preventable, and you can get to the bottom of what causes erectile dysfunction. Medication is also perfectly acceptable and an excellent solution for millions of men worldwide.

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