Erectile dysfunction means that you can’t get and/or maintain an erection, or the penis becomes partly erect but not hard enough to have sex properly.

In other cases, there is no swelling or fullness of the penis at all. Both can have a significant effect on your sex life.

ED is usually treatable, and we are the ones to offer a variety of treatment methods for the inability to maintain the erection. Before you choose the treatment, let’s see what the ED causes are.

What causes erectile dysfunction?

Most men have occasional times when they have problems achieving an erection. For example, you may not get an erection so easily if you are tired, stressed, distracted, or have drunk too much alcohol. For most men, it is only temporary and an erection occurs most times when you are sexually aroused.

However, some men have persistent, or recurring problems with sexual function. It can occur at any age but becomes more common with increasing age.

There are several causes which tend to be grouped into those that are mainly physical and those that are mainly due to mental health issues.

Physical Causes

About 8 in 10 cases of ED are due to a physical cause. Causes of ED include:

Reduced blood flow to the penis. This is, by far, the most common cause of ED in men over the age of 40. Like in other parts of the body, the arteries which take blood to the penis can become narrowed.

The blood flow may then not be enough to cause an erection. Risk factors can increase your chance of narrowing of the arteries. These include getting older, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking.

Nerve damage. For example, multiple sclerosis, a stroke, Parkinson’s disease, etc. can affect the nerves going to the penis.

Diabetes. This is one of the most common causes of ED. Diabetes can affect blood vessels and nerves.

Hormonal causes. For example, a lack of a hormone called testosterone which is made in the testicles (testes). This is uncommon. However, one cause of a lack of testosterone that is worth highlighting is a previous head injury. A head injury can sometimes affect the function of the pituitary gland in the brain. The pituitary gland makes a hormone that stimulates the testicle to make testosterone. So, although it may not at first seem connected, a previous head injury can in fact lead to ED. Other symptoms of a low testosterone level include a reduced sex drive (libido) and changes in mood.

Injury to the nerves going to the penis. For example, spinal injury, following surgery to nearby structures, fractured pelvis, radiotherapy to the genital area, etc.

Side-effects of certain medicines. The most common are some antidepressants; beta-blockers such as propranolol, atenolol, etc; some ‘water tablets’ (diuretics); cimetidine. Many other less commonly used tablets sometimes cause ED.

Alcohol and drug abuse. If unhealthy habits last for years they can cause chronic health issues, diseases, and disorders such as ED.

Cycling. ED after long-distance cycling is thought to be common. It is probably due to pressure on the nerves going to the penis, from sitting on the saddle for long periods. This may affect the function of the nerve after the ride.

The excessive outflow of blood from the penis through the veins (venous leak). This is rare but can be caused by various conditions of the penis.

In most cases due to physical causes (apart from injury or after surgery), the ED tends to develop slowly. So, you may have intermittent or partial ED for a while, which may gradually become worse. If the ED is due to a physical cause, you are likely still to have a normal sex drive apart from if the cause is due to a hormonal problem. In some cases, ED causes poor self-esteem, anxiety, and even depression. These reactions to the ED can make the problem worse.

Mental Health (psychological) Causes

Performance anxiety can cause or contribute to ED. For instance, many men have occasional times when they cannot get, or maintain, an erection. If you have one episode where you can’t have sexual intercourse as a result, you may get anxious that it will happen again. This anxiety can be enough to stop you from getting an erection next time, leading to more anxiety.

Various mental health conditions may cause you to develop ED. They include:

  • stress – for example, due to a difficult work or home situation;
  • anxiety;
  • relationship difficulties;
  • depression.

Typically, the ED develops quite suddenly if it is a symptom of a mental health problem. The ED may resolve when your mental state improves – for example if your anxiety or depression eases. However, some people become even more anxious or depressed when they develop the ED. They do not realize it is a reaction to their mental health problem. This can make matters worse and lead to a vicious circle of worsening anxiety and persisting ED.

As a rule, a psychological cause for the ED is more likely than a physical cause if there are times when you can get a good erection, even though most of the time you cannot. (For example, if you can get an erection by masturbating, or wake up in the morning with an erection.)

If there are some additional questions you still have about the erectile dysfunction treatment you face, please contact us for free.