In order to fully treat erectile dysfunction, it is important to identify the underlying causes. Erection in males follows a complex process hence, ED can be caused by a number of conditions. The most common reasons for erectile dysfunction include medical conditions like diabetes, drugs and psychological factors like stress.
- 1 Causes of Erectile Dysfunction
- 1.1 Physiological Causes of Erectile Dysfunction
- 1.2 Psychological Causes of Erectile Dysfunction
- 1.3 Drug-Induced Erectile Dysfunction
Causes of Erectile Dysfunction
A man is said to suffer from erectile dysfunction if he finds himself unable to maintain an erection. A large number of men tend to suffer from erectile dysfunction occasionally. However, ED is only considered as a major concern if the participation of a man in sexual performance becomes impossible for a long duration of time.
Erectile dysfunction can be caused by countless reasons. Broadly speaking, these reasons can be classified into two major types; physiological and psychological. Physiological reasons consist of illnesses or other anatomical changes that hinder the normal penile erection. On the other hand, psychological reasons refer to various psychological factors that directly or indirectly influence the sexual performance of males. These factors may include stress or relationship problems. In some cases, ED is induced by intake of certain drugs as well.
While making a differential diagnosis, it is important to identify if an overlap exists between the physiological and psychological reasons. For example, an obese man is prone to develop erectile dysfunction because of a change in his penile blood flow. At the same time, he might also be suffering from mental issues like stress and low self-esteem that are likely to trigger erectile dysfunction in him.
This article will explore multiple reasons leading to erectile dysfunction in order to develop a better understanding of the condition.
Physiological Causes of Erectile Dysfunction
Physiological problems account for a large number of ED cases emerging nowadays. These causes can include long-term health problems and the side effects of different substances. Each case produces its own set of specific symptoms caused by different anatomical abnormalities such as reduction in penile blood flow, damage to nerves or decreased production of hormones. Some of the factors constituting the physiological aspect of ED are discussed below:
Also known as high blood pressure, hypertension possesses an ability to affect a man’s sexual life by disturbing his normal erections. This can happen in a number of ways. Hypertension basically stops the arteries surrounding the penis to act normally. In other words, it limits the amount of blood that normally flows into the penis to induce an erection. Hypertension also causes erectile dysfunction by inhibiting the muscles of the penis to relax.
You might think that taking a medicine for hypertension may solve the consequent ED, but you are wrong. In many cases, the medicine prescribed to control high blood pressure can itself contribute to ED. Beta blockers are normally prescribed to the patients of hypertension. These agents can interfere with the normal nerve signals required for erection. Other medications for high BP include blood thinners that can stop the normal flow of blood in the penis, making it harder for you to achieve an erection.
The reason why atherosclerosis can induce erectile dysfunction is rather simple. The disease is characterized by constriction of arteries and limiting the amount of blood passing through them. Because blood flow is a crucial factor for maintaining an erection, atherosclerosis often results in erectile dysfunction.
Just like atherosclerosis, hypercholesterolemia or high cholesterol content in blood can adversely affect normal penile function. Excess cholesterol often deposits within the arteries and narrow their lumen, leading to a reduction in blood passing through them. In this way, erectile dysfunction can be induced.
Evidence suggests that about 35 to 75 percent of the men suffering from diabetes are at a risk of developing erectile dysfunction. Diabetes is considered among the causes of ED because of its potential to damage the nerves, arteries and veins supplying the penis.
Diabetes-induced erectile dysfunction is considered as dangerous and rather difficult to treat because most of the time, such patients are already taking heart medications. This makes their ED quite difficult to treat as oral drugs meant to treat sexual dysfunction cannot be taken together with heart medications.
5. Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple Sclerosis is considered among the causes of erectile dysfunction because it often damages the nerves and interrupts the normal impulse transmission. Interrupting the normal transmission of nerve impulses makes it difficult for men to maintain normal erectile function.
6. Hormonal Imbalance
Hormonal imbalance can cause erectile dysfunction irrespective of its aetiology. The main hormone required to maintain normal sexual function is testosterone. Various conditions can disrupt the concentration of testosterone in the body. These conditions include hypergonadism, hypothyroidism, and even stress. Low levels of testosterone enforce a domino effect within the body which reduces the release of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is needed by the penile muscles to relax and in its absence, erection is unable to take place.
7. Surgical Injuries
Injury to any area of the groin or to the general circulatory and nervous system can cause erectile dysfunction. Such kind of injuries usually occurs following a surgical procedure. For instance, a surgical process to remove a testicular tumour can result in damage to the penile muscle and nerves. This can impair the normal mechanism of erection, making it harder for men to perform sexually.
8. Anatomical Problems
In addition to the pathological and surgical reasons discussed above, various anatomical problems can also cause the development of erectile dysfunction. Some of these problems are genetic in nature while others occur due to the process of ageing. For example, prostate enlargement commonly causes hormonal imbalance in men who are growing old. This can restrict the normal blood flow and cause erectile dysfunction.
Another anatomical cause of erectile dysfunction is the venous leak, a problem that occurs in old age. In this condition, the penis is unable to retain blood inside its tissues, leading to ineffective or very short-lived erections.
Erectile dysfunction has also been associated with chronic periodontitis, a disease in which the tissues around teeth undergo inflammation. The specific cause for this association is still under investigation.
Psychological Causes of Erectile Dysfunction
Psychological issues have an equal role in inducing erectile dysfunction in males. A variety of factors can be included in this kind which can be treated by merely changing the circumstances or therapy. Some psychological factors included in this category are discussed below.
General stress is said to negatively affect the normal erectile function in males. The specific cause of this stress can be anything from personal to the professional level. What makes the situation more troublesome is that the negative effects produced by stress can be transient. The levels of stress are continuously fluctuating in most of the peopl
e, hence the problem of ED can come and go.
Anxiety in any form is dangerous and can adversely affect a male’s capacity to perform sexually. The most common type of anxiety leading to ED is often said to be performance anxiety. It can shrink the blood vessels and interfere with the normal blood flow of penis, ultimately causing erectile dysfunction.
Depression is another factor that precipitates ED, and like many other psychological factors, its effects can fluctuate over the time. A depressed person often finds himself unable to participate in a sexual activity because his normal erection is badly disturbed.
What makes the situation worse is the fact that the medications often prescribed to treat depression can themselves lead to exacerbation of ED. It is always recommended to consult with a doctor and get the medications that treat depression without the further aggravation of the underlying erectile dysfunction.
4. Relationship Problems
Just like low confidence and low self-esteem, insecurities in a relationship can badly affect a man’s ability to participate in a sexual intercourse. The problem is particularly common in men of older age who find themselves becoming indifferent to any sexual activity as they age. Sexual arousals are reduced and their ability to gain an erection is badly disturbed.
Emotional distresses can also play an important role in disturbing the normal erectile function in males. Males who often indulge in fights and arguments with their significant others are likely to suffer from anxiety and stress, leading to problems like erectile dysfunction.
Drug-Induced Erectile Dysfunction
Almost 200 different prescription drugs have been found to induce erectile dysfunction as a side effect. Additionally, alcohol and nicotine can also be considered as two most commonly used substances that lead to erectile dysfunction. The mechanism by which these substances induce ED is different in every case. Excessive use of nicotine causes ED by narrowing the arteries while alcohol directly affects the nervous system and induced hormonal imbalance. Some types of anti-depressants have also been known to cause erectile dysfunction in males both directly and indirectly.
Erectile dysfunction is medically curable but requires a proper diagnosis before a treatment can begin. If you ever find yourself among the victims, consult with a doctor to find out the exact reason why the problem has occurred. This will help you target the specific problem causing erectile dysfunction and aid in getting rid of it quickly.