Many believe that with age, erectile dysfunction is inevitable. Although the number of men with erectile dysfunction and increases with age, there is the possibility that erectile dysfunction develops as a consequence of any disease or drugs, which were taken in these diseases. Erectile dysfunction is rarely a purely psychological problem. Studies have shown that 80% of male erectile dysfunction is a consequence of any physical condition. These include: chronic disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, atherosclerosis is often accompanied by erectile dysfunction. Kidney, liver, thyroid, hormonal disorders also lead to erectile dysfunction. Men, who suffering from depression, also often report that they have erectile dysfunction.
Surgery and neurological disorders
If somehow was damaged the nerves connecting the penis with the central nervous system, may occur erectile dysfunction. They include surgery on the prostate gland, spinal cord injury or pelvic organs, stroke, multiple sclerosis or Alzheimer’s disease.
Many of the drugs designated in the above-mentioned diseases by themselves can cause erectile dysfunction as an additional side effect. An example would be drugs designated for high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, arthritis, peptic ulcer disease or epilepsy.
Smoking, alcohol abuse or drug use can cause erectile dysfunction. If you want to learn more about the causes of erectile dysfunction, or you consider that one of the above reasons may be relevant to you, you can make an appointment to our sexologist. He can discuss in detail these questions with you.
When a man becomes sexually excited (aroused), his brain sends signals to the nerves in his penis. The nerves increase the blood flow to the penis, causing the tissue to expand and harden.
Anything that interferes with the nervous system or the blood circulation could lead to erectile dysfunction.
Anything that affects the level of sexual desire (libido) can also cause erectile dysfunction because a reduced libido makes it more difficult for the brain to trigger an erection. Psychological conditions, such as depression, can reduce libido, as can changes in hormone levels (chemicals produced by the body).
There are four main types of health conditions that can cause physical problems resulting in erectile dysfunction. These are:
- conditions affecting the flow of blood to your penis – vasculogenic
- conditions affecting your nervous system, which is made up of your brain, nerves and spinal cord – neurogenic
- conditions affecting your hormone levels – hormonal
- conditions affecting the physical structure of your penis – anatomical
Injuries and surgery
Penis injuries or surgical treatment of the penis, pelvis or surrounding areas can sometimes lead to erectile dysfunction.
Erectile dysfunction is also thought to occur in up to 15-25% of people who experience a severe head injury.
Examples of vasculogenic conditions that cause erectile dysfunction include:
- cardiovascular disease – a disease of the heart or blood vessels, such as atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries)
- high blood pressure (hypertension)
- diabetes – a condition caused by high blood sugar levels. This can affect both the blood supply and the nerve endings in your penis, so it is also a neurogenic condition
Erectile dysfunction is strongly associated with cardiovascular disease. For this reason, it may be one of the first causes your GP considers when making a diagnosis and planning your treatment.
Examples of neurogenic conditions that cause erectile dysfunction include:
- multiple sclerosis – a condition that affects the body’s actions, such as movement and balance
- Parkinson’s disease – a condition that affects the way that the brain coordinates body movements, including walking, talking and writing
- a spinal injury or disorder
- a stroke – a serious condition that occurs when the blood supply to the brain is interrupted
Examples of hormonal conditions that cause erectile dysfunction include:
- hypogonadism – a condition that affects the production of the male sex hormone, testosterone, causing abnormally low levels
- an overactive thyroid gland (hyperthyroidism) – where too much thyroid hormone is produced
- an underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism) – where not enough thyroid hormone is produced
- Cushing’s syndrome – a condition that affects the production of a hormone called cortisol
Peyronie’s disease, which affects the tissue of the penis, is an example of an anatomical condition that can cause erectile dysfunction.
In some men, certain medicines can cause erectile dysfunction, including:
- diuretics – these increase the production of urine and are often used to treat high blood pressure (hypertension), heart failure and kidney disease
- antihypertensives – such as beta-blockers, that are used to treat high blood pressure
- fibrates – medicines used to lower cholesterol levels
- antipsychotics – used to treat some mental health conditions, such as schizophrenia
- antidepressants – used to treat depression and some types of pain
- corticosteroids – medication that contains steroids, which are a type of hormone
- H2-antagonists – medicines used to treat stomach ulcers
- anticonvulsants – used to treat epilepsy
- antihistamines – used to treat allergic health conditions, such as hay fever
- anti-androgens – medication that suppresses androgens (male sex hormones)
- cytotoxics – medication used in chemotherapy to prevent cancer cells from dividing and growing
Speak to your GP if you are concerned that a prescribed medicine is causing erectile dysfunction. Alternative medication may be available. However, it is important never to stop taking a prescribed medicine unless you are advised to do so by a qualified healthcare professional who is responsible for your care.
Possible psychological causes of erectile dysfunction include:
- depression – feelings of extreme sadness that last for a long time
- anxiety – a feeling of unease, such as worry or fear
Erectile dysfunction can often have both physical and psychological causes. For example, if you have diabetes, it may be difficult for you to get an erection, which may cause you to become anxious about the situation. The combination of diabetes and anxiety may lead to an episode of erectile dysfunction.
There are many emotional issues that may also affect your physical ability to get or maintain an erection. These include:
- relationship problems
- lack of sexual knowledge
- past sexual problems
- past sexual abuse
- being in a new relationship
Other possible causes of erectile dysfunction include:
- excessive alcohol intake
- using illegal drugs, such as cannabis, heroin or cocaine
Men who cycle for more than three hours per week may be recommended to try a period without cycling to see if this helps improve erectile dysfunction.
Riding in the correct position with a properly fitted seat may also help to prevent regular cycling from leading to erectile dysfunction.
Underlying Medical Condition
Underlying medical conditions or disease, can cause erectile dysfunction, which is also known as organic Erectile Dysfunction. For example:
- Serious Health (metabolic) problems, such as:
- High Blood Pressure
- Chronic renal failure
- High Cholesterol
- Sleep Apnoea
- Neurogenic Causes, which interfere with nerve function, such as:
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Spinal cord trauma
- Pelvic injury/surgery (prostate/bowel)
- Peripheral neuropathy (alcohol and diabetes)
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Vascular causes, which has to do with reduced blood flow, such as:
- Atherosclerosis (narrowing of the arteries) of pelvic blood vessels
- Urological problems, such as:
- Peyronie’s Disease
- Prostate cancer
- Pelvic trauma/surgery
- Endocrine Disorders, which has to do with hormone secretion.Hormonal problems, such as low testosterone, high prolactin and thyroid disease, can affect erectile function, but this is quite rare.
The brain is an often-overlooked erogenous zone. Sexual excitement starts in your head and works its way down. Depression can dampen your desire and can lead to erectile dysfunction. Ironically, many of the drugs used to treat depression can also suppress your sex drive and make it harder to get an erection, and they can cause a delay in your orgasm.
You might consider having a few drinks to get in the mood, but overindulging could make it harder for you to finish the act. Heavy alcohol use can interfere with erections, but the effects are usually temporary. The good news is that moderate drinking — one or two drinks a day — might have health benefits like reducing heart disease risks. And those risks are similar to erectile dysfunction risks.
The contents of your medicine cabinet could affect your performance in the bedroom. A long list of common drugs can cause ED, including certain blood pressure drugs, pain medications, and antidepressants. But do not stop taking any medicines without talking to your doctor first. Street drugs like amphetamines, cocaine, and marijuana can cause sexual problems in men, too.
It’s not easy to get in the mood when you’re overwhelmed by responsibilities at work and home. Stress can take its toll on many different parts of your body, including your penis. Deal with stress by making lifestyle changes that promote well-being and relaxation, such as exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, and seeking professional help when appropriate.
Anger can make the blood rush to your face, but not to the one place you need it when you want to have sex. It’s not easy to feel romantic when you’re raging, whether your anger is directed at your partner or not. Unexpressed anger or improperly expressed anger can contribute to performance problems in the bedroom.
Worrying that you won’t be able to perform in bed can make it harder for you to do just that. Anxiety from other parts of your life can also spill over into the bedroom. All that worry can make you fear and avoid intimacy, which can spiral into a vicious cycle that puts a big strain on your sex life — and relationship.
Carrying extra pounds can impact your sexual performance, and not just by lowering your self-esteem. Obese men have lower levels of the male hormone testosterone, which is important for sexual desire and producing an erection. Being overweight is also linked to high blood pressure and hardening of the arteries, which can reduce blood flow to the penis.
When you don’t like what you see in the mirror, it’s easy to assume your partner isn’t going to like the view, either. A negative self-image can make you worry not only about how you look, but also how well you’re going to perform in bed. That performance anxiety can make you too anxious to even attempt sex.
Low libido isn’t the same as erectile dysfunction, but a lot of the same factors that stifle an erection can also dampen your interest in sex. Low self-esteem, stress, anxiety, and certain medications can all reduce your sex drive. When all those worries are tied up with making love, your interest in sex can take a nosedive.
Many different health conditions can affect the nerves, muscles, or blood flow that is needed to have an erection. Diabetes, high blood pressure, hardening of the arteries, spinal cord injuries, and multiple sclerosis can contribute to ED. Surgery to treat prostate or bladder problems can also affect the nerves and blood vessels that control an erection.
How to Solve Erection Problems
It can be embarrassing to talk to your doctor about your sex life, but it’s the best way to get treated and get back to being intimate with your partner. Your doctor can pinpoint the source of the problem and may recommend lifestyle interventions like quitting smoking or losing weight. Other treatment options may include ED drugs, hormone treatments, a suction device that helps create an erection, or counseling.
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