Erectile dysfunction

The different causes of ED


Erectile dysfunction (ED) has always had a social stigma attached to it which prevents many patients from discussing it openly and freely. This has led to a lack of research into erectile dysfunction, so patients are often unable to link causes of erectile dysfunction to other health conditions. NHS statistics indicate 50% of men between the age of 40 and 70 will suffer from erectile dysfunction at least once in their life. The figures are based on research which might have pros and cons, but it does allow us to identify the scale of the problem. We know from past research and investigations carried out there are several causes of erectile dysfunction. These can be split into two categories, psychological and physiological which have an effect on the blood flow, hormone production and neural signals directly linked to the penis.

We will explore these causes of erectile dysfunction in detail below to gain an understanding of the condition in general and raise awareness for patients who currently suffer from ED as well as provide different erectile dysfunction treatment options.

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Physiological Causes of ED

We mentioned briefly in the introduction these were one of the two categories related to causes of erectile dysfunction. The main one is due to various physiological concerns that can prevent erections; these can be chronic health issues or even side effects of other substances. Take a look at some of these below:

High Cholesterol and Atherosclerosis

Atherosclerosis constricts the arteries and reduces the blood flow, which is essential for achieving and maintaining an erection. A counter positive of this condition is that erectile dysfunction is an early warning of atherosclerosis that can allow people to get treatment quicker and change their lifestyle to slow it down. High cholesterol is quite similar to atherosclerosis in that it can also damage the functionality of the arteries that are critical for achieving an erection.


Hypertension, another name for what is commonly known as high blood pressure, can affect men in various ways leading to erection problems. Hypertension can mainly distort the function of the arteries around the penis, which leads to a lack of adequate blood flow to achieve an erection. It also affects the muscles in the penis which are unable to relax and achieve an erection. High blood pressure treatment is often in the form of beta-blockers which can damage never signals essential for achieving an erection. Other forms of blood-thinning therapy can also reduce the pressure of the flow of blood to the penis and also contribute to erectile dysfunction.


According to some research men with diabetes are 35%-75% more likely to suffer from erectile dysfunction. This high percentage of risk is related to the arteries around the penis being damaged. The medication used for diabetes or heart conditions can have harmful interactions with drugs used to treat erectile dysfunction; therefore, it is often challenging to treat people with diabetes with ED. Levitra is deemed to be the most suitable ED medicine to be used in diabetic patients with erectile dysfunction.

Multiple Sclerosis

Erectile dysfunction is common amongst multiple sclerosis patients. The cause here again is mainly related to nerve impairment and disruption to nerve impulses often seen in MS patients. This can lead to difficulty achieving and maintaining an erection.

Injury or Surgery

If you have had an injury or surgery around the groin area or nervous/circulatory systems, these can cause issues leading to erectile dysfunction. Nerve signals, hormones and adequate blood are all required at the right time to the penis to achieve and maintain an erection,

Substance Misuse

Nicotine and alcohol are the two major substances, which, although are not the only ones often related to erectile dysfunction. As we mentioned before a lot of the medicines used for heart conditions are closely linked to erectile problems. As a summary, substances lead to erectile dysfunction in a few ways; too much nicotine promotes narrowing of the arteries, binge-drinking on alcohol can cause damage to the nervous system due to liver damage. Anti-depressants are also said to affect people negatively by reducing their sex drive directly or indirectly due to nausea or fatigue.

Psychological Causes of ED

Having explained the various physiological causes, we will now look at the psychological factors which can contribute to or directly cause erectile dysfunction.

Relationship issues

This topic is one of the main psychological issues many people face, depending on the severity of their situation. People can suffer from low self-esteem; lack of confidence, and other insecurities which can directly lead to a man’s ability to perform sexually.

Stress & Anxiety

Stress and anxiety can be treated as two different factors, but we believe they often go hand in hand. Erectile dysfunction caused by stress can come and go depending on the individual and how serious the stress situation is. Anxiety, on the other hand, can have a negative effect due to the fear of no performing well in bed or fear of other things. The problem with erectile dysfunction in patients with stress and anxiety is that they can get caught up in a cycle if they have suffered from ED once.


Depression is a prevalent psychological issue that can lead to erectile dysfunction in men. One of the underhand aspects of depression patients suffering from ED is that they might be on an anti-depressant and as we mentioned earlier under substances, which are a cause of ED in themselves, therefore leaving the person in a loop. This is quite similar to people on high blood pressure medication and suffering from ED. If you are in such a situation, you should discuss this openly with your GP and seek help.


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