What Causes Erectile Dysfunction

What are the causes of Erectile Dysfunction?


Physical causes

 About eighty per cent of the causes of erectile dysfunction are physical.  Some of the most common are:

  •  A reduction in the flow of blood to the penis. In men over the age of forty this is the most common cause of erectile dysfunction. Arteries in any part of the human body can become narrowed and this is also true of the penis. If blood flow to the penis is significantly reduced then this may mean that the man is unable to get or to maintain an erection. High cholesterol, high blood pressure and smoking are all risk factors, which increase your chance of narrowing of the arteries.
  •  Diseases of the nervous system. These can include Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis and stroke.
  •  Diabetes. Diabetes is one of the most common causes of erectile dysfunction and can affect nerves and blood vessels.
  •  Nerve damage. Spinal injuries, fractures in the pelvic area and radiotherapy in the genital region can all lead to erectile dysfunction.
  •  Changes in hormone levels. A lack of the male hormone testosterone can lead to erectile dysfunction.
  •  Certain medications. Erectile dysfunction can be a side effect of particular medicines including certain antidepressants; atenolol, propranolol and other beta-blockers; and some diuretics.
  •  Alcohol abuse.
  •  Drug abuse.
  •  Cycling. Long distance cycling can result in erectile dysfunction due to the pressure that is placed by the bicycle’s saddle on the penile nerves.
  •  Venous leak. Sometimes erectile dysfunction is cause by a leak of blood from the veins, which supply the penis, though this condition is rare.


 Psychological causes


  • Stress.
  • Depression.


Erectile dysfunction and cardiovascular disease.

Erectile dysfunction can be caused by many conditions. In about seventy per cent of cases, however, the underlying reason is a narrowing of the arteries in the penis. This means that less blood can flow into the organ, which makes it more difficult to get and to maintain an erection.

 The main reason for narrowing of the arteries is a condition called atheroma, when fatty deposits develop within the arteries and cause them to narrow.

 There are a number of risk factors, which increase the chance of someone developing atheroma, these include:

  •  High blood pressure.
  •  Smoking. Smoking is the biggest risk factor associated with developing atheroma. Statistics show that smokers have double the chance of suffering with atheroma.
  •  Obesity.
  •  High cholesterol levels.
  •  Inactivity.
  •  Diet.
  •  Excessive alcohol.
  •  Diabetes.


Can my doctor test for erectile dysfunction?

If you are suffering with erectile dysfunction then your doctor will probably suggest that you have some tests to try and discover what is causing it. The tests predominantly check for any narrowing of the arteries. Tests may include:

  • Cholesterol and lipid levels (by means of a blood test).
  • Blood sugar levels.
  • Checking for liver and kidney disease.
  • Urine.
  • Blood pressure.
  • Electrocardiogram.


Can I be treated for erectile dysfunction?

 If you are suffering with erectile dysfunction it might be necessary for your doctor to refer you to a specialist for further assessment or treatment.

 Often, however, your own GP will be able to offer you treatment options as the medication for treating erectile dysfunction has improved dramatically over the last decade.

 If your GP thinks that your ED may be caused by a hormone imbalance, by circulatory problems or by an injury that you have sustained, then it is likely that he will refer you to a specialist.


Oral medications for ED

1998 saw the first oral medication for erectile dysfunction come onto the market. Viagra, developed by Pfizer, was revolutionary in the treatment of ED and was soon being taken by millions of men across the globe. Click here for more information on the history of Viagra. 

 Viagra (the brand name for the drug sildenafil) was soon followed by Cialis and Levitra, which have the active ingredients tadalafil and vardenafil respectively.

 You take a tablet before having sex and the medication allows the blood vessels in the penis to widen, hence allowing more blood to flow into the penis and cause an erection.

 It should be noted, however, that although these tablets allow you to gain and to maintain an erection, they do not work unless you are sexually aroused.

 These medications, which are known collectively as PDE5 inhibitors have an extremely good success rate. About 80 percent of men who take them will be able to get an erection.

 Like all medications, however, there are underlying conditions and medications which may interact with these drugs so your doctor will carry out a full medical history to ensure that you are safe to take them and that they will be suitable for you.


Other treatments available for the treatment of ED include:



 The patient is taught how to inject the medication into the base of the penis. This will cause an erection within fifteen minutes.


Urethral medication

 Medication is placed into the end of the urethra and causes an erection, again usually within fifteen minutes.


Vacuum devices

 You place your penis in a plastic container and the air is sucked out, causing a vacuum. This causes blood to enter the penis, which makes it become erect. When erection is achieved a rubber band is place around the base of the penis to keep the penis rigid.


Penile prosthesis

 A prosthesis can be surgically inserted into the penis. There are two types, one that keeps the penis rigid permanently and one that is pumped rigid by the patient.


For more information on erectile dysfunction causes, feel free to go to: http://www.patient.co.uk/health/erectile-dysfunction-impotence