Doctor physician consulting with male patients in hospital psychology clinic exam room.

What Are the Common Erectile Dysfunction Causes And How to Prevent Them

One thing that can ruin a man’s and his partner’s sexual experience is being unable to get—and maintain—an erection. Erectile dysfunction is not uncommon and almost all men experience it at some point in their lives; what can be alarming is when the problem persists and occurs repeatedly.

This seemingly simple process requires a number of things to go right and can be derailed due to a variety of reasons and can make the otherwise pleasurable experience of sex turn into a source of anxiety for you and your partner. What are these erectile dysfunction causes?

This blog will explain the causes of erectile dysfunction—the medical, psychological, and behavioral reasons—and what you can do about them.

Man having erectile problem in bedroom

What is it?

Erectile Dysfunction (ED) is the persistent difficulty in achieving and maintaining an erection that will allow you to have a satisfying sexual experience. It doesn’t just include the ability to get hard, but to stay hard and ejaculate when you climax.

Affecting as many as 30 million men, ED is a common problem. Most occurrences of ED are harmless and have no greater implications for your health; you should know, however, that you should seek professional medical help when the problem arises on a number of occasions.

Erectile dysfunction is primarily of two types: primary ED and secondary ED. These can be defined as:

  • Primary ED:
  • You have never been able to get or sustain an erection. This situation is rare.

  • Secondary ED:
  • You have been able to attain erections before but have been unable to get one.

Causes of erectile dysfunction

There’s no one reason why you may be experiencing an inability to get an erection; the reasons can be plenty and varied—physical reasons are said to account for the large majority of ED concerns, with psychological factors causing much less. A plethora of medical conditions can cause erectile dysfunction and it is often seen as a harbinger of greater underlying medical concerns.

The most prevalent causes of erectile dysfunction are mostly:

  • Medical conditions
  • Prescription drugs
  • Recreational drugs
  • Psychological concerns
  • Cycling

Young love couple in bed

Medical conditions

Most causes of ED are understood to fall under the category of physical reasons, with other causes accounting for a much smaller percentage.
ED often also acts as a warning sign for other on-coming medical conditions including diabetes, cholesterol or hypertension.

Normal erectile functioning is usually affected by problems in the three physical systems: blood flow, nerve supply, and hormones. Some of the primary medical conditions that lead to erectile dysfunction are:

Ageing
Since your erections are closely linked to the level of testosterone in your body and owing to the deficiency of testosterone as you get older, you may not experience the same ability to get hard like you used to. As such, aging is one of the main erectile dysfunction causes.

The resultant decrease in libido is often a cause of ED as men get older, with most cases, appearing in later stages of life.

Senior man working out for good health

Cardiovascular disease
Your penis, and its ability to get erections, are closely related to the flow of blood in your body.

The surge of blood toward your genitals is what causes you to get rock hard erections; when your blood flow is hampered, it ends up affecting your ability to get erections the way you used to before.

Conversely, experiencing ED also serves as a warning sign for possible cardiovascular diseases.

Diabetes

Another medical condition that leads to vascular conditions is diabetes. High blood glucose levels can affect your blood vessels, and thus, adversely impacts the flow of blood. Any damage to the cardiovascular system tends to affect all parts of your body—that includes your penis and its functioning as well.

Obesity

Weight gain often tends to exhibit changes to other aspects of your physical health and wellbeing as well. Obesity can lead to a deficiency in the testosterone hormone; this not only impacts your desire to have sex but also your ability to get erections.

Obesity is already closely linked to heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol, and a plethora of other diseases that inhibit your blood flow.

Overweight man with big belly

Hormonal Disorders
An imbalance in your hormones can result in erectile dysfunction. This is primarily owing to the hormone testosterone and its leading role in sexual desire and the normal functioning of your penis. Low testosterone usually manifests in erectile dysfunction.

The thyroid hormone, specifically an overactive thyroid, has implications for the difficulties in getting erections.

Other diseases:

  • Treatments for prostate disease
  • Anatomical disorder of the penis (Peyronie’s disease)
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Atherosclerosis—the clogging of arteries in the penis

Prescription drugs

A number of prescription medications tend to decrease libido or inhibit normal blood flow in your body; several medications list erectile dysfunction as a side effect of its usage. The medications that most commonly cause ED are:

  • Muscle relaxants
  • Diuretics and high blood pressure drugs
  • Chemotherapy drugs
  • Anti-depressants and SSRIs
  • Parkinson’s disease drugs
  • Tranquilizers
  • Heart medication
  • Propecia

Recreational drugs

Just as prescription drugs can impact the incidence of erectile dysfunction, recreational drugs can have just as much of an effect. This is primarily owing to the fact that these drugs, and alcohol, suppress the central nervous system and cause long-lasting damage to the blood vessels.

The resultant decrease in blood flow to the penis can cause lasting effects, including erectile dysfunction. Some of the ED-causing recreational drugs are:

  • Alcohol
  • Cocaine
  • Marijuana
  • Nicotine
  • Opiates
  • Amphetamines
  • Barbiturates
  • Heroin

While some of these substances may reduce sexual desire, others cause blood vessels to narrow which results in decreased blood flow to the penis as well. They all tend to have some negative impact on the normal functioning of your penis.

Preparing and rolling marijuana cannabis joint.

Psychological Causes of ED

The internal machinations of your mind can manifest in the working of your body. It is no wonder that the state of your mental wellbeing can have great impacts on your sexual encounters and how your body performs.

Psychological effects of ED can be primary or reactive: the former refers to existing psychological problems impacting your penis’ functioning; the latter is when your mental state is affected by the issues you are having with getting erections.

Some of the psychological causes, both reactive and primary, that can result in erectile dysfunction are:

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Low self-esteem
  • Performance anxiety
  • Guilt
  • Fear of intimacy

Psychological factors can be of significance in infrequent incidences of ED, however they may not be to blame for persistent problems with getting erections.

Can cycling cause erectile dysfunction?

Cycling’s causal effect on ED has been debated extensively. While there is no conclusive study to determine it, research has suggested some degree of effect on incidences of erectile dysfunction and cycling.

The main reason riding a cycle can have implications on the possibility of infertility and prostate cancer as well, is due to the pressure on the pelvis.

This prolonged perineal pressure could contribute to causing erectile functioning that is different from the ordinary.

Detail of a road bike with a cyclist pedaling

What are the common causes of erectile dysfunction in young men in their 20s?

Recent studies have found that 1 of 4 patients with recently discovered erectile dysfunction is a young man of under 40 years of age.

There can be a plethora of reasons to explain this growing trend towards the inability of young men to get erections that long sufficiently long enough to ejaculate.

Young men feel a great amount of pressure about having to last long in bed, considering the negative connotations associated with prematurely ejaculating; hence, performance anxiety is a major contributing factor that links young men and ED. Other causes include:

  • Anxiety, depression and other psychological ailments
  • Poor diet
  • Obesity
  • Smoking, drinking, and recreational drugs
  • Medications including anti-depressants
  • Injuries to the spine or nerve

What causes ED in men over 40?

Issues related to your penis tend to get more common around middle age. Thus, it is no surprise that it is prevalent mostly around your 40s.

The most common causes include hormonal imbalances, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes, the use of medications that may have ED as a side-effect, and metabolic syndrome.

Portrait of handsome mature man, light effect

Treatment options

If you’re dealing with erectile dysfunction, the good news is that there are ways to alleviate these problems. A number of treatments exist that can help you regain your erectile functioning and you can continue to enjoy your sex life.

Surgical treatments and devices can be of assistance to you, but if you want to take a less intrusive route, you could opt for drugs and exercises as well.

Drugs like Sildenafil (commonly known as Viagra) or other PDE-5 inhibitors—such as Vardenafil, Tadalafil, and Avanafil—are available with prescriptions and can address your ED-related concerns.

Other methods include surgical options like penile implants and vascular surgery; these can increase the flow of blood to the penis and allow it to get as hard as you remember it used to. A non-intrusive technique to reduce the effects of erectile dysfunction is through Kegel exercises that strengthen your pelvic floor muscles.

One alternative that has no side-effects and is completely non-intrusive is to opt for natural performance enhancers.

You can opt for Viasil; it is all-natural and works to increase your strength and endurance. It boosts your existing bodily functions to rejuvenate and revive low energy levels, poor circulation, and limp erections too!

viasil product boxes

Conclusion

Erectile dysfunction is becoming a wide-spread concern for many men, ranging across the spectrum of age. The problem may be common but it also has solutions and treatments that can be opted for.

Whether you’re interested in making lifestyle and behavioural changes to address your concerns, or want to opt for surgeries and treatments, the first step to getting past it is to understand what the causes of erectile dysfunction are.

This blog gave you a wide array of possible causes, from medical and drug-related causes, to psychological ones. Once you know how you can get erectile dysfunction, you’re moving closer to living a life without it.

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