Erections have long been a sign of youth and virility in males. For many, the loss of it causes distress, lowered self-image, and stress between partners. Erectile dysfunction occurs when a man cannot achieve or maintain an erection long enough for satisfying intercourse. In this article, you’ll discover 11 erectile dysfunction causes.
11 Major Erectile Dysfunction Causes
ED is considered the most common sexual dysfunction among men. Erectile dysfunction occurs in mild, moderate, or severe classifications. Erections occur as a reflex or as the result of emotional stimuli. The nature of the loss of erection can indicate whether ED has physical or mental causes. Regardless of the cause, the failure to sustain an erection can cause mental anguish.
Here are 11 major causes of erectile dysfunction.
Studies vary on the number of men affected worldwide by ED. About 52% of men over the age of 40 experience mild to moderate ED. Men over 40 have a higher rate of and increased body mass index and lower testosterone levels. Both of these conditions have the potential for difficulty achieving and maintaining an erection.
While aging plays a factor, one study found that 1 in 4 patients are young men between the ages of 17 to 40 experiencing ED. In men under 40, it’s believed that ED is more a function of psychology though you shouldn’t rule out a physical cause
2. Obesity and Poor Lifestyle Habits
Obesity is an increasing problem with the availability of processed foods and the trend toward less active work and lifestyles. It leads to a myriad of problems including clogged arteries, hypertension, diabetes, and damaged blood vessels.
Erections are the result of blood circulation through the penis. Blocked or damaged blood vessels limit the blood flow available to achieve a satisfactory erection. Excess body fat also secretes more estrogen, causing an imbalance in hormones necessary for male sexual health.
3. Heart Disease
Heart disease is a combination of diseases or events that affect the heart. Things like irregular heartbeat, hardened blood vessels, etc fall under the umbrella of heart disease. Many studies show a link between hypertension and ED though the topic is controversial.
As mentioned before, an erection is a function of the cardiovascular system. For this reason, ED may be a marker of an upcoming cardiovascular event. Doctors recommended that men under 50 suffering from ED with no obvious causes be screened for heart disease.
4. Smoking, Drug, and Alcohol Abuse
The use of illicit drugs is more common among men under the age of 40 than over. Drug use damages the body in a myriad of ways and can lead to ED. Smoking tobacco and drinking alcohol use can cause heart disease and damage blood flow.
For men, any more than 15 drinks per week or more than 5 drinks in a single instance is considered excessive. Excessive alcohol use can cause potentially permanent peripheral nerve and liver damage. An impaired liver causes an imbalance in hormones, decreasing testosterone necessary to achieve an erection.
5. Stress, Anxiety, and Depression
Emotional stimuli play a large part in achieving an erection. Stress, anxiety, or depression are all causes for regular stimuli to not have the same effect. They have many causes and occur in various degrees of severity.
When experienced for long periods, stress and anxiety manifest as physical problems in the body. Speak to a mental health provider if you are experiencing these systems to find relief. Often holistic changes in your lifestyle or mindset are the trigger you need to feel normal again.
Medication affects a man’s hormones, blood flow, and/or nervous system which plays a role in ED. For instance, medications used to combat hypertension often causes ED.
Here is a shortlist on popular types of meds that increase your risk for ED:
- Blood pressure meds
- Muscle relaxants
Ask your doctor about your medication if ED is a concern for you. Your doctor can recommend alternatives that you can then pick up from more affordable sources.
7. Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s is a chronic neurodegenerative disease that causes sexual dysfunction in both males and females. In males, it causes obsessive sexual thoughts and feelings or ED. The loss of control of nerves caused by this disease affects the ability to maintain an erection or ejaculate.
8. Sleep Disorders
Sleep disorders disrupt your body’s hormone production as well as your quality of life. Those suffering from sleep apnea also have higher chances of developing ED. The mental and physical effects of loss of sleep disrupt your ability to function in regular life.
Speak to your primary care doctor to have a sleep study performed if you are concerned about your quality of sleep.
9. Multiple Sclerosis
MS is a disease where the body’s immune system attacks the protective lining around nerves. This disrupts your brain’s ability to send signals to the nerves. MS causes fatigue, pain, and impaired coordination among other issues. The lesions it causes along the spine are believed to be the cause of ED along with the psychological aspects of an MS diagnosis.
10. Excessive Watching of Pornography
The addiction to ‘adult entertainment’ is seen as one of many internet-related mental disorders. It functions much like other addictions in that dopamine receptors are increasingly stimulated. Porn-use is a major self-reported reason for healthy males under 40 experiencing ED.
Common observations include:
- Loss of interest in sexual activity with a real partner
- Irritability and resentment as withdrawal symptoms
- Preoccupation with internet pornography
- Watching increasingly graphic material
While studies of the relationship between ED and porn use are not conclusive, healthy males who chose to abstain for a few weeks saw positive results. Becoming increasingly unsatisfied with sessions, watching where you shouldn’t, and using it to self medicate are all signs that you may have an unhealthy porn habit.
11. Prostate Inflammation or Cancer
The pain caused by an inflamed prostate has caused sexual problems in some men. It can also lead to interrupted ejaculations. The chemotherapy treatments for prostate cancer disturbs your energy levels, hormones, and overall health. All of these factors contribute to the loss of an erection.
What to Do If You Suspect You Have ED?
There are many erectile dysfunction causes and not all have definite explanations as to why they cause ED. If you are experiencing a loss of erection more often, speak to your health care provider. If you are under 70, it can be a sign of a more serious underlying condition.
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