Erectile Dysfunction | Causes & Risk Factors

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What causes erectile dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction can be caused by:

  • Diabetes (high blood sugar)
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries)
  • Stress, anxiety or depression
  • Alcohol and tobacco use
  • Some prescription medications, such as antidepressants, pain medicine and medicine for high blood pressure
  • Fatigue
  • Brain or spinal-cord injuries
  • Hypogonadism (which leads to lower testosterone levels)
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Radiation therapy to the testicles
  • Stroke
  • Some types of prostate or bladder surgery

If you can't keep your blood sugar or your blood pressure under control, you can get erectile dysfunction. It's important that you take your medicines for these problems just the way your doctor tells you.

Sometimes your hormones get out of balance and this causes erectile dysfunction. Your doctor will decide if you need blood tests to check your hormones.

Some medicines can cause erectile dysfunction. If this is true for you, your doctor may take you off that medicine or give you a different one.

Drinking too much alcohol, smoking too much and abusing drugs can also cause erectile dysfunction.

Problems in your relationship with your sexual partner can also cause erectile dysfunction. Improving your relationship may help your sex life. If you decide to seek therapy, it will probably be most effective if your sex partner is included. Couples can learn new ways to please one another and to show affection. This can reduce anxiety about having erections.

Feelings that can lead to erectile dysfunction

  • Feeling nervous about sex, perhaps because of a bad experience or because of a previous episode of impotence
  • Feeling stressed, including stress from work or family situations
  • Being troubled by problems in your relationship with your sex partner
  • Feeling depressed
  • Feeling so self-conscious that you can't enjoy sex
  • Thinking that your partner is reacting negatively to you

Source

Newer Pharmacologic Alternatives for Erectile Dysfunction by Anthony J. Viera, LT, MC, USNR, Timothy L. Clenney, LCDR, MC, USNR, Donald W. Shenenberger, LT, MC, USNR, and Gordon F. Green, CDR, MC, USNR (American Family Physician September 15, 1999, http://www.aafp.org/afp/990915ap/1159.html)

Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff

Reviewed/Updated: 03/14
Created: 09/00

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