Understanding the Causes of Erectile Dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction is a condition where you’re unable to get or keep an erection sufficient for sexual intercourse. It affects as many as one million men in Australia, is more common amongst older men, and can be caused by both psychological and physical factors.

Symptoms of erectile dysfunction include trouble getting and/or keeping an erection, and reduced sexual desire. But note that having erectile problems from time to time isn’t necessarily a sign of erectile dysfunction.

If you’re concerned about erectile dysfunction, you can find out more below on the potential causes so you can seek the right treatment or adjust your lifestyle.

Physical factors that can cause erectile dysfunction

Common physical causes of erectile dysfunction include heart disease, clogged blood vessels, and high cholesterol. Pre-existing conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, and, in particular, obesity can also be causal factors, where studies suggest that nearly 80% of those with erectile dysfunction having a BMI of 25 or above. Additionally, chronic conditions like heart disease and hypertension can also have a direct impact on erectile issues because they affect circulation.

If you have metabolic syndrome, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, or Peyronie’s disease, these could also be contributing to your erectile dysfunction.Other physical causes include the following:

  • Medications and treatments – Prescription medications like antidepressants, blood pressure medications, antihistamines, chemotherapy drugs and synthetic hormones can have an impact on erectile issues. Radiation treatment for cancer, treatment for prostate cancer or enlarged prostate are other causal factors of erectile dysfunction to consider.
  • Drugs and alcohol – Conditions like alcoholism, substance abuse, and sleep disorders could lead to erectile dysfunction. In particular, drug and alcohol use can dull physical sensations and worsen any psychological problems, and in turn contribute to erectile dysfunction.
  • Smoking – Smoking is considered a major risk factor for impotence in young men. Tobacco use can lead to erectile dysfunction by damaging the lining of your blood vessels which affects your blood circulation.
  • Surgeries – Injuries or surgeries in the pelvic area or in your spinal cord can also cause erectile dysfunction.
  • Unhealthy diet – An unhealthy diet can lead to poor blood circulation, which affects your ability to get and keep and erection.
  • Sedentary lifestyle – Leading a sedentary lifestyle impacts your waistline, and this increases your risk of obesity and leads to poor cardiovascular health which could increase your chances of experiencing erectile dysfunction.
  • General ageing – Ageing can be another potential cause of erectile dysfunction. But being young may not prevent it if you’re experiencing the other physical or psychological causes.
  • Prostate diseases and thyroid conditions – If you have a prostate disease or an underactive thyroid gland or hypothyroidism, you may be at higher risk of erectile dysfunction.

Other physical causes to look out for include hormone imbalances, poor circulation, and unhealthy diets. For example, if you have a hormone imbalance it could affect your sexual desire as well as your ability to achieve and maintain an erection. Thyroid and pituitary issues can be underlying factors of hormone imbalances.

Psychological factors that can cause erectile dysfunction

Physical factors or psychological factors alone can cause erectile dysfunction, or they may work in combination to cause it. Some psychological factors include:

  • Unresolved relationship issues – Unresolved issues or conflicts associated with a sexual or emotional relationship can cause erectile dysfunction as it affects your ability to achieve and maintain an erection.
  • Performance anxiety – Anxiety about sexual performance can lead to erectile dysfunction. When poor performance happens once, you may become worried that it will happen again, leading to this psychological factor consistently causing erectile dysfunction.
  • Stress, depression, and anxiety – Other conditions like stress, depression, or anxiety can also contribute to erectile dysfunction. Stress can heighten the production of hormones like adrenaline, and this may divert blood flow away from the penis to other organs like the lungs and hearts.
  • Guilt and low self-esteem – Men with erectile dysfunction may experience guilt about not being able to please their partner. Shame, low self-esteem and even depression can be causes of the guilt, and these emotional states may contribute to the cycle of erectile dysfunction.
  • Pornography addiction – Addiction to or dependence on pornography could contribute to or cause erectile dysfunction. Excessive pornography can lead to unrealistic expectations and you may end up needing that experience to become aroused.

The next move

If you’re experiencing erectile dysfunction, understanding the potential physical and mental causes of erectile dysfunction could pave the way to better management and treatment. By getting in touch with a doctor you could successfully treat it by addressing an underlying condition, or getting medication.

Doctors on Demand offers convenient, high-quality healthcare online 24/7, with a team of experienced Australian registered doctors and mental health experts ready to assist. If you experience erectile dysfunction, you can speak to one of our doctors online easily and without embarrassment. For a consult or advice,contact us today. You can also access our medication and online prescription service online.

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