Causes of Erectile Dysfunction (ED)

Erectile dysfunction aka ED is the inability to achieve and maintain an erection. Fifty percent of men between the age of 40 and 70 have already experienced several instances of ED, most commonly known as impotence.

There are many causes for erectile dysfunction. The greatest number is related to poor health conditions. Erectile dysfunction can also be resulting from physical problems, and psychological (or emotional) issues.

Physical Causes of ED

From most common to least common, the physical causes of ED include: heart or vascular (blood vessel) disease, diabetes, obesity
high blood pressure, high cholesterol, sleep apnea, low testosterone (as occurs in male menopause), prescription drug side effects, drug addiction, smoking, alcoholism, stroke, brain or spinal cord injuries, prostate cancer and prostate treatments (including radiation).

Psychological Causes of ED

The psychological causes of erectile dysfunction, which account for approximately 10 percent of all cases, include:

  • Stress, from a job, finances, marital problems,
  • Anxiety, over aging, failing health, loss of a job, a perceived inability to satisfy a partner,
  • Guilt, over a perceived failure to succeed in life, in a career, or in a relationship,
  • Generalized depression – that is, not related to sexual performance or a relationship,
  • Low self-esteem, related to previous instances of erectile dysfunction, or not
  • Low libido, caused by a difficult relationship or the lower testosterone levels of aging and “male menopause”

Neurological Causes of ED

The neurological causes of erectile dysfunction include:

Alzheimer’s disease
Multiple sclerosis
Temporal lobe epilepsy
Other Causes

Men whose partners had intimate relationships with a significant number of males are more likely to experience ED than those whose partners did not. Men who watch significant amounts of pornographic film are also inclined to develop ED. A woman’s tears can lower male testosterone levels and thus arousal. Finally, long-distance or marathon bicycle riders can also experience erectile dysfunction because of the persistent, repeated pressure on genitals and buttocks, which eventually deteriorate the nerves.

Talk To Your Doctor About ED

Researchers now recognize that ED is not a natural part of aging. Rather, it signals undetected disease processes like diabetes and high blood pressure. That is, while a single instance of ED may not be important, several episodes – or an ongoing tendency – indicate it is time to consult a doctor. Sadly, only about 30 percent of men are able to overcome their discomfort and feelings of shame to talk to another person about ED, even when that person is a trained urologist. Learn more about treatments for ED here.