What causes ED (erectile dysfunction)? Erectile dysfunction is not just a normal part of aging. Even though it is commonly experienced by aging males, there are many medical reasons why a man may experience ED. About half the men over 50 years old in the U.S. report some degree of ED, but many men are able to stay sexually active well into their 90s.
So what causes ED? Erectile dysfunction is the inability to achieve and maintain an erection for intercourse. There are many different causes of ED, ranging from physical to psychological causes. Stress, anxiety, depression, and relationship problems are psychological causes. Medical conditions such as heart problems, radiation for prostate cancer, and surgery for prostate cancer are some physical causes that could cause temporary erectile dysfunction problems or even more long-lasting problems.Sometimes not getting enough sleep can make it difficult to get an erection.
Men who have psychological causes for their ED may still get nighttime erections. If you do not get nighttime erections, you may have a physical reason for your ED. Several kinds of medications can cause ED by affecting your hormones, blood flow or nerves. If you take medication for depression, blood pressure, enlarged prostate, your heart or other drugs like tranquilizers, check with your doctor.
Factors that can affect your ability to achieve an erection include:
- Excessive drinking
- Low testosterone
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Prostate cancer treatment
- Side effects of medication
Hormones and heart health
Hormones can affect your libido and sexual health. Low T could be a cause of ED. If you think you might have low T, make an appointment to have a blood test. Sometimes what causes ED is not sexually related. Erectile dysfunction is an early sign of heart disease or other cardiovascular problem. If you don’t have another explanation for your ED, discuss it with your doctor, who may recommend a heart checkup to make sure you are not at risk for a heart attack or stroke.
Treatments for ED involve improving heart health, making sure hormones are balanced, dealing with psychological problems, using devices, and trying oral or injectable medications. Injections are not a popular choice, but they do work well, helping 805 to 90% of men. Oral pills like Viagra, Levitra, or Cialis help 7 out of 10 men with their erections. A physical device such as a penis pump works by drawing blood into the penis. It can be used along with erectile dysfunction rings. Erectile dysfunction rings, also called penile constriction rings, can be used for short periods of time to hold the blood in the penis.
As a last resort if nothing else works, some men turn to penile implant surgery, which inserts bendable or inflatable rods into the penis. Natural remedies for erectile dysfunction involve the use of supplements, diet, and healthy habits such as using stress management techniques for helping with ED and sexual health.
Talk to your doctor about what medications you take. There are certain popular men’s health drugs that can cause ED that you should be aware of. If one of them might be what causes ED for you, perhaps your doctor could prescribe something else instead. Also, talk to you doctor about managing your heart health and diabetes. Men with diabetes are two to three times more likely to have ED than other men because diabetes can damage the blood vessels and nerves. If you have diabetes, you can help by keeping blood sugar in check, getting regular exercise, controlling blood pressure and lowering your cholesterol.
If you are experiencing ED and are worried about what causes ED, talk to you doctor. Erectile dysfunction is a sign that something needs addressing. Whether it is your psychological health or something else going on in the body, it is best to address the problem before it gets worse. Treating what causes ED in your body will allow you to improve not just your sexual health but your overall health as well.
Read more in our Erectile Dysfunction Health Center.