According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), erectile dysfunction affects about 30 million men in the United States. The causes of erectile dysfunction are many and varied. Sometimes ED is linked to a physical health condition, but sometimes it is caused by a psychological issue. If you are having difficulty achieving or maintaining an erection, it might be because of one of the conditions below.
1. Cardiovascular Disease
Heart disease and heart-related conditions are possible causes of erectile dysfunction. The heart is responsible for pumping blood throughout the body, so if it is not functioning properly it can’t supply blood flow to the penis. Without that blood flow, you can’t achieve an erection. For example, a condition called atherosclerosis occurs when a blood vessel is blocked by a fatty substance called plaque. When the blood vessel is blocked, blood cannot flow to organs like the penis.
2. Low Testosterone
Low testosterone occurs when the testicles do not produce enough of the male sex hormone testosterone. Low T (as it is sometimes called) can result in a variety of symptoms ranging from fatigue to decrease in muscle mass. Another symptom some men with low testosterone experience is difficulty getting or sustaining an erection.
3. High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is one of the many potential causes of erectile dysfunction. High blood pressure damages your arteries, which can result in reduced blood flow. Without enough blood flow, getting and maintaining an erection is difficult if not impossible. Some medications that are used to treat hypertension can cause ED as well. May is High Blood Pressure Education Month, so to learn more about it click here.
Diabetes can contribute to erectile dysfunction. Diabetes is an endocrine disorder, meaning that it affects the endocrine system, which is responsible for producing and regulating our hormones. Two long term complications of diabetes are nerve damage and poor circulation. So, diabetes may cause ED because of nerve damage, hormonal imbalance, and impaired blood flow.
There is a strong connection between obesity and sexual dysfunction. Being overweight increases the risk of developing conditions like heart disease, high cholesterol, diabetes, and hypertension. It is also linked to low testosterone. All of these things are linked to erectile dysfunction.
6. Kidney Disease
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is another one of the causes of erectile dysfunction that affects the ability to get an erection in multiple ways. CKD interferes with hormone levels, blood flow, and overall energy. Medications used to manage CKD may also cause ED.
7. Neurological Disorders
Nerve disorders and neurological conditions can affect a man’s ability to achieve and maintain an erection. These conditions affect the brain’s ability to communicate with the reproductive system. The following neurological conditions may be causes of erectile dysfunction:
- Multiple sclerosis (MS)
- Parkinson’s disease
- Brain tumors
- Spinal tumors
- Temporal lobe epilepsy
- Alzheimer’s disease
If the spinal cord, bladder, prostate, pelvis, or penis is injured in an accident or during surgery, then erectile dysfunction could be a result of that injury.
9. Substance Use
Some men experience ED due to the use of tobacco, drugs, or alcohol. Smoking is linked to multiple health problems that can lead to erectile dysfunction. Alcohol can affect the ability to get and maintain an erection. And certain drugs like cocaine and amphetamines can cause ED.
10. Side Effects of Medications & Drugs
Another cause of erectile dysfunction is taking certain medications. Some prescription and over-the-counter drugs have the side of effect of making it difficult to achieve or maintain an erection. Some medications that may cause ED include:
- Cancer chemotherapy medications
- SSRIs (antidepressants)
- Central nervous system (CNS) depressants
- CNS stimulants
- Synthetic hormones
11. Psychological Causes
Sometimes erectile dysfunction does not have a physical cause. Instead, some cases of ED are caused by psychological issues. Things that may make it difficult to achieve or maintain an erection include:
- Relationship issues
- Self-esteem issues
Alliance Urology Specialists is home to an expert team of urologists that are committed to providing comprehensive care to adults with urologic disorders as well as issues like erectile dysfunction. If you are experiencing the symptoms of ED or another condition, call our office at (336) 274-1114 to make an appointment.