What Causes Erectile Dysfunction? A Closer Look at ED

What Causes Erectile Dysfunction? A Closer Look at ED

Few things cause more frustration or shame for men than the quiet problem of erectile dysfunction. It’s just not something guys discuss, even in the privacy of a locker room.

Yet, the Massachusetts Male Aging Study revealed that Erectile Dysfunction has a prevalence of 52.2 percent. In particular, approximately 40 percent of men experience erectile dysfunction by the time they turn 40, and nearly 70 percent of men have symptoms by age 70.

Keep reading to learn about the causes of this common dysfunction.

What Is Erectile Dysfunction?

Quite simply, erectile dysfunction means the inability to acquire or maintain an erection firm enough for sex.

A man may be able to get an erection, but he cannot keep it when he has erectile dysfunction.

Normal Erectile Function

A normal penis, unaroused, is soft and limp. When the penis is sexually aroused, the man’s nerves release chemicals that increase the blood flow into the penis. The blood then flows into the corpus cavernosum chambers, two different spongy muscle tissues in the penis.

The tissue then relaxes and traps the blood. The blood pressure in the chamber goes up, making the penis firm.

When the man then has an orgasm, another set of nerves cause the muscular tissues in the penis to relax and release the blood back into the man’s circulation

What Causes Erectile Dysfunction?

With erectile dysfunction, one of a variety of factors will limit the nerves and muscles surrounding the penis from doing their job. The blood does not rush into the penis and thereby increase the blood pressure surrounding the penis.

The victim of erectile dysfunction will notice that he cannot maintain an erection. To qualify as having erectile dysfunction, a patient should be consistently unable to maintain an erection. The problem does not just happen occasionally but rather again and again.

Erectile dysfunction happens as a result of either physical or emotional causes. Additionally, there are risk factors for erectile dysfunction. These include:

  •     Age
  •     High blood pressure
  •     Cardiovascular disease
  •     High cholesterol
  •     Smoking
  •     Drug and alcohol use
  •     Obesity
  •     Lack of physical exercise

While these do not cause erectile dysfunction, doctors have found all of them to increase your chance of having the condition. Eliminating or reducing risk factors will reduce the likelihood of developing erectile dysfunction.

If you do not have these risk factors in your life but still struggle with erectile dysfunction, then the ED may be a symptom of a bigger problem.

1. Low Blood Flow

The lack of blood flow can stem from an underlying and unknown cardiovascular problem. For example, if you have hardened arteries or heart disease, your blood just won’t flow to the area as well.

2. Malfunctioning Chambers

The blood may flow into the penis, but your penis may not be trapping it and keeping it. If your penis cannot trap the blood flow into the chambers surrounding it, you will not maintain an erection. This can happen to men of any age.

3. Nerve Damage

If the nerve signals from the brain or spinal cord do not reach the penis, the nerves will not release the chemical that increases the blood flow to the penis. The penis cannot establish or maintain an erection without this blood flow.

4. Diabetes

Diabetes can lead to small vessel disease. This can lead to a loss of blood flow that leads to erectile dysfunction. In fact, erectile dysfunction can occur earlier in diabetic men than in other men.

5. Cancer Treatments

Cancer treatments have all sorts of side effects. Any treatment near the pelvis can affect the function of a penis. In particular, any surgery or radiation in the lower abdomen or pelvis can cause erectile dysfunction.

Treatment for prostate, colon-rectal, or bladder cancer can lead to erectile dysfunction.

6. Side Effects of Other Drugs

All drugs have side effects. Some drugs can render a man unable to maintain an erection.

In particular, many medications used to treat high blood pressure can cause erectile dysfunction. Whenever your doctor puts you on a new medication, talk to him or her about possible side effects.

Emotional Causes of ED

Your body functions as a whole, both physical and emotional. Thus emotional problems can cause physical problems like erectile dysfunction.

For example, both depression and anxiety will cause physical changes that affect a man’s ability to maintain an erection.

Problems at either home or work can also cause ED. If you’re experiencing relationship conflicts or undue stress at either place, you may experience erectile dysfunction.

Ironically, even worry about sex performance can cause erectile dysfunction. So if you are struggling to maintain an erection already, worrying about the problem more could only make the problem stick around even longer.

What Are the Effects of Erectile Dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction works as a signal of something that may already be wrong. It can also cause subsequent problems.

If you have the symptoms of ED, go to a doctor. You may have an underlying cardiovascular condition or high blood pressure that could be causing the problem.

If you let the ED go untreated, you could easily end up with low self-esteem, depression, and even distress for the man and his partner.

Sex is a healthy part of a relationship. If a man cannot perform, his own self-esteem will suffer. His partner will also find themselves frustrated.

Doctors have a variety of options for treating erectile dysfunction. They may prescribe medication. They may also recommend physical therapy.

As a last resort, a physician may recommend surgery.

Seek Treatment Now

If you see the symptoms of erectile dysfunction, visit your doctor. The dysfunction could be the smoking gun for other problems, or it could cause even further health problems for you.

If your doctor recommends medication, contact us for prescriptions at an affordable price.