- Erectile dysfunction (ED) is when a guy has persistent trouble getting hard enough, long enough, for sex. It can be a symptom of a lot of different underlying issues, including psychological problems such as anxiety.
- There are a number of different risk factors, like age, lifestyle, medications and medical conditions which make ED more likely to occur.
There are four general reasons men can develop ED, broadly speaking. You might have a look at Numan’s ‘Book of Erections’ to read about them in more detail.
One of the most common causes of ED is an underlying problem with reduced blood inflow, arterial insufficiency or arterial blockage. Poor arterial flow can stem from things like diabetes, or high lipid (cholesterol) levels in the blood, or cigarette smoking.
Sometimes hormone imbalance is to blame for ED. Low levels of testosterone are associated with erectile dysfunction, for example, though it’s not yet known exactly why. Abnormal thyroid hormone levels can cause ED too.
Because the signals which lead erection to occur are mediated by your nerves, sometimes ED can arise from a problem with nerve signalling to the penis. This can be from things like injury, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, or diabetes (which can affect nerve health as well as blood vessel health, as mentioned above).
It’s well established that stress, depression and anxiety – even about ED itself – can interfere with men’s ability to achieve and maintain an erection. Even antidepressant medications themselves can cause ED.
The bottom line
The cause of a man’s erectile dysfunction might be simple, or it might be complicated. Broadly speaking, though, it often overlaps between the four categories. It’s about blood-flow, hormones, nerves, or the mind.