What causes Erectile Dysfunction?

By Dr. Praveen Tripathi - January 20, 2019

Erectile dysfunction is an inability to achieve an erection or maintain an erection that is required for successful sexual intercourse.

To understand what causes erectile dysfunction, we need to understand what causes erection first. Whenever a person is in a state of sexual excitement, the blood flow in the penis increases, and this increased blood in penis makes it hard, which is called as erection of penis. This process of blood flow is controlled by nerves of penis. So, for a good erection, the following are required:

1. Sexual excitement
2. Health blood vessels and adequate increase in blood flow
3. Healthy nerves

Apart from these factors, the presence of a relaxed mind is equally important. If an individual is too anxious about his performance (performance anxiety) and has doubts whether he would be able to have sex properly or not, it can also result in loss of erection.

The following are the common causes of erectile dysfunction:

1. Medical disorder: Medical disorders like hypertension (increased blood pressure) and diabetes are amongst the commonest causes of erectile dysfunction.

2. Lifestyle factors: Smokers are at particular risk of developing erectile dysfunction. Regular alcohol use and use of illicit drugs is also a common cause

3. Psychological factors: Presence of depression and anxiety is a common cause of erectile dysfunction. Getting anxious right before sexual intercourse is a very common cause.

4. Relationship issue: If the relationship with the partner is not healthy and there have lots of disputes and fights, it spills into the sexual life too and compromises it.

5. Poor self-esteem: People who dislike or are uncomfortable with their bodies frequently face problem in getting a good erection as they feel that their partners will judge them for the kind of body they have.

6. Medication: Certain types of antihypertensives and antidepressants can also cause erectile dysfunction as a side effect

7. Miscellaneous factors: Having sex with a new partner, first time sex and sex after consumption of alcohol can all result in erectile dysfunction. In particular during first sex, a person has two conflicting emotions. On one hand he is sexually excited, which improves the erection, at the same time he is anxious about how would he perform, which disturbs the erection. The result depends upon who wins, anxiety or excitement.

So, as discussed erectile dysfunction can be because of physical causes (disturbed blood supply, disturbances of nerves or medications) or psychological causes (anxiety, relationship issues, self doubts) and the treatment depends on the cause. Hence, its important to do proper investigations and find the cause of erectile dysfunction and treat accordingly