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Erectile Dysfunction Causes And Available Treatments: Why Does ED Happen?

UPGUYS > Blog > Sex > Erectile Dysfunction Causes and Available Treatments: Why Does ED Happen?
The person who wrote this article

Written by the UPGUYS Editorial Team
Published on October 02, 2021

A man has erectile dysfunction when he can't consistently get or maintain an erection that permits satisfactory sexual activity. In most cases, ED is caused by something physical. However, there are other contributing factors to erectile dysfunction, including psychological or emotional factors

If you want to learn more about ED, first, you have to know about the process of getting an erection. We have a comprehensive article that provides you with detailed information about this common phenomenon among men.

Do not forget that you can easily order online Viagra Canada.

What is erectile dysfunction (ED) exactly?

Erectile dysfunction (impotence) is an ongoing inability to get and keep an erection firm enough to have sex. 

Read more: How Do I Know If I Have Erectile Dysfunction?

Most men will experience isolated instances where they cannot become adequately erect. But if you can’t become erect with sufficient rigidity for three consecutive months, you likely have a form of ED that requires attention.

ED can happen:

  1. Most often, when blood flow to the penis is limited
  2. With nerve damage 
  3. With stress or other emotional causes
  4. As an early sign of a more serious disease, like hardening or blocked arteries, heart problems, high blood pressure, or diabetes

Erectile dysfunction (ED) causes

We recognize that talking about ED may be hard for some men, yet getting to the root of the problem is crucial for treating erectile dysfunction. 

Why does erectile dysfunction (ED) happen? Get to know the most common causes.

Erectile dysfunction physical causes account for 90 percent of cases. Therefore, it's the most common cause of erectile dysfunction. 

Other than physical causes, erectile dysfunction can happen due to three other significant reasons:

  1. Emotional or mental causes that signal deeper psychological problems
  2. Unhealthy lifestyle choices 
  3. Side effects of medications

Erectile dysfunction (ED) most common cause

Physical causes of erectile dysfunction 

Dysfunctions in any of the following systems in the body can affect a normal erection: 

  1. Problem in the blood flow
  2. Problem in the nerve supply
  3. Hormonal problems

Physical causes are the major reasons of ED to happen

The most common physical ED causes include:

  1. Clogged blood vessels
  2. Heart disease
  3. High cholesterol
  4. High blood pressure
  5. Diabetes
  6. Obesity
  7. Kidney disease
  8. Multiple sclerosis

*Atherosclerosis (narrowing or clogging of arteries) is the most common cause of blood flow problems, preventing the necessary blood flow to the penis from forming an erection. *

Sometimes, other more serious – but less likely - physical causes are involved when you experience erectile dysfunction. 
  1. Hormonal disorders, including thyroid conditions and testosterone deficiency
  2. Structural or anatomical disorder of the penis, such as Peyronie disease
  3. Metabolic Syndrome
  4. Parkinson's disease
  5. Prostate cancer

The common physical cause of erectile dysfunction (ED)

Note that your penis is the barometer of your overall health, meaning that when you see dysfunction in the penis, it often precedes a dysfunction in the heart, kidney, or brain by five to 10 years. Therefore, it is always a good idea to consult with a doctor about recurring erection problems, as it could be caused by a more serious underlying medical condition that you can find out about early on.

Erectile dysfunction emotional causes

The brain plays a vital role in activating a series of physical events that cause an erection, starting with feelings of sexual excitement. 

But several things can interfere with sexual feelings and cause or worsen erectile dysfunction, such as:

  1. Depression
  2. Anxiety
  3. Stress
  4. Guilt
  5. Low self-esteem
  6. Relationship problems like fear of intimacy or lack of interest

The Common psychological cause of erectile dysfunction (ED)

Note that in many cases, a combination of physical and emotional causes plays a role in ED. Properly treating your problem sometimes means you have to treat the underlying erectile dysfunction psychological causes, as well as a mental one. The good news is that most erectile dysfunction mental causes are highly treatable.

Lifestyle-related causes of erectile dysfunction

Lifestyle choices can and will affect your overall physical and mental health. While some poor lifestyle choices such as ordering take-out too often or occasional smoking may seem harmless at first, rest assured that they are building up some serious issues along the way. 

Some poor lifestyle choices include:

  1. Alcoholism

Many heavy drinkers often experience ED at some point in their life, although occasional drinkers may experience ED too.

  1. Substance abuse

Most long-term drug users experience some form of ED throughout their life. The cases among Cocaine users are more common, but users of Amphetamines, Marijuana, Methadone and Opiates suffer from this condition.

  1. Smoking

Tobacco and Nicotine users are at a higher risk of being inflicted by ED than non-smokers.

  1. Eating unbalanced foods

A combination of unhealthy foods and fatty dishes is a recipe for obesity and ED.

  1. Not having enough exercise

Not only may it lead to obesity, but neglecting physical activities may cause problems to the blood flow and raise ED risk.

Read more:

  1. Yoga For Erectile Dysfunction
  2. Kegel Exercises For Erectile Dysfunction

Poor lifestyle habits that cause erectile dysfunction (ED)

Note that a poor lifestyle choice can catch up with you in your youth too. Bad lifestyle choices from an early age can contribute to erectile dysfunction causes in the 20s and 30s.

Erectile dysfunction causes due to taking certain medication

Many medicines and recreational drugs can affect sexual performance. 

What causes one man to have erection problems may not affect another.

Some antidepressants, antihistamines, and medications to treat high blood pressure, pain, or prostate conditions may cause ED. Chemotherapy and hormonal medications can also be among contributing factors of erectile dysfunction at any age.

The following is a list of medicines and drugs that may cause erectile dysfunction (ED) in men, in alphabetical order.

1- Psychiatric medication and antidepressants:

Amitriptyline (Elavil), Amoxapine (Asendin), Buspirone (Buspar), Chlordiazepoxide (Librium), Chlorpromazine (Thorazine), Clomipramine (Anafranil), Clorazepate (Tranxene), Desipramine (Norpramin), Diazepam (Valium), Doxepin (Sinequan), Fluoxetine (Prozac), Fluphenazine (Prolixin), Imipramine (Tofranil), Isocarboxazid (Marplan), Lorazepam (Ativan), Meprobamate (Equanil), Mesoridazine (Serentil), Nortriptyline (Pamelor), Oxazepam (Serax), Phenelzine (Nardil), Phenytoin (Dilantin), Sertraline (Zoloft), Thioridazine (Mellaril), Thiothixene (Navane), ranylcypromine (Parnate), Trifluoperazine (Stelazine)

2- Antihistamine medicines (Allergy and heartburn drugs):

Cimetidine (Tagamet), Dimenhydrinate (Dramamine), Diphenhydramine (Benadryl) , Hydroxyzine (Vistaril), Meclizine (Antivert), Nizatidine (Axid), Promethazine (Phenergan), Ranitidine (Zantac)

3- High blood pressure medicines and diuretics:

Atenolol (Tenormin), Bethanidine, Bumetanide (Bumex), Captopril (Capoten), Chlorothiazide (Diuril), Chlorthalidone (Hygroton), Clonidine (Catapres), Enalapril (Vasotec), Furosemide (Lasix), Guanabenz (Wytensin), Guanethidine (Ismelin), Guanfacine (Tenex), Haloperidol (Haldol), Hydralazine (Apresoline), Hydrochlorothiazide (Esidrix), Labetalol (Normodyne), Methyldopa (Aldomet), Metoprolol (Lopressor), Nifedipine (Adalat, Procardia), Phenoxybenzamine (Dibenzyline), Phentolamine (Regitine), Prazosin (Minipress), Propranolol (Inderal), Reserpine (Serpasil), Spironolactone (Aldactone), Triamterene (Maxzide), Verapamil (Calan)

4- Parkinson's disease medicines:

Benztropine (Cogentin), Biperiden (Akineton), Bromocriptine (Parlodel), Levodopa (Sinemet), Procyclidine (Kemadrin), Trihexyphenidyl (Artane)

5- Chemotherapy and hormonal medicines:

Antiandrogens (testosterone blockers), Busulfan (Myleran), Cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan), Ketoconazole, LHRH agonists (Lupron, Zoladex), LHRH agonists (Firmagon)

6- Painkillers:

Codeine, Fentanyl (Innovar), Hydromorphone (Dilaudid), Meperidine (Demerol), Methadone

Morphine, Oxycodone (Oxycontin, Percodan)

7- Recreational drugs:

Alcohol, Amphetamines, Barbiturates, Cocaine, Marijuana, Heroin, Nicotine

8- Other medicines:

Aminocaproic acid (Amicar), Atropine, Clofibrate (Atromid-S), Cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril), Cyproterone, Digoxin (Lanoxin), Disopyramide (Norpace), Dutasteride (Avodart), Estrogen, Furazolidone (Furoxone), H2 blockers (Tagamet, Zantac, Pepcid), Indomethacin (Indocin), Lipid-lowering agents, Licorice, Metoclopramide (Reglan), NSAIDs (ibuprofen, etc.), Orphenadrine (Norflex), Prochlorperazine (Compazine), Pseudoephedrine (Sudafed), Sumatriptan (Imitrex)

Note that there may be additional drugs other than those on this list that can cause erection difficulties.

How to treat erectile dysfunction (ED)

If you think you have dysfunction, the first step is to consult with a physician.

You may find that a simple lifestyle change or adjusting a specific medication might do the trick.

There are four major treatment categories for erectile dysfunction (ED).

1- Counseling

If you have erectile dysfunction caused by anxiety or other psychological factors, it may help to talk to a professional therapist. Usually, you will only need a handful of sessions to kick this problem.

2- Medication

Oral medications are an effective erectile dysfunction treatment for many users. Depending on the drug instructions, they are taken anywhere from 30 minutes to 36 hours before having sex. 

Some even have daily doses available for men with spontaneous lifestyles. You shouldn't use these pills more than once a day. Never take these medications without your doctor's approval.

These pills work for about 80% of men who take them. But if your erection lasts more than 4 hours, seek emergency medical help. 

Possible Side Effects

There are specific side effects associated with using these drugs, such as:

  1. Headache
  2. Stuffy nose
  3. Muscle aches
  4. In rare cases, a temporary blue-green shading of your vision

3- Penis pump

A penis pump is a vacuum erection device. It is a hollow tube with a hand-powered or battery-powered pump that you can place over your penis, and then the pump sucks out the air inside the tube, creating a vacuum that pulls blood into your penis. 

Consider that these devices can bruise the penis and will restrict ejaculation.

4- Surgery

You can consider penile implants, which means surgically placing devices into both sides of the penis when all other options have failed you. 

However, they have a high degree of satisfaction among men who have tried and failed more conservative therapies. Just like any surgery, there's a risk of complications, such as infection.

What should you do now?

There are steps you should take to treat your erectile dysfunction. The good news is that you have taken the very first step towards having a happy sex life once again. You are reading about your condition.

ED treatment steps

1- Awareness

Reading trustable sources can help you gain enough information about erectile dysfunction to know how to proceed. 

For example, by reading a doctor-approved article about the causes of erectile dysfunction, you will learn about occasional erectile dysfunction causes and sudden erectile dysfunction causes and how they can be different.

2- Talk about your condition with a specialist

No matter how many well-written articles you read, you cannot self-diagnose unless you are a doctor. 

We recognize that speaking about sexual problems can be challenging for you, yet there are available platforms that help you figure out your problem online with the help of trusted doctors in the comfort of your own home.

3- Receive necessary treatments

When a doctor has properly diagnosed you, you can now have properly prescribed medication that helps your unique situation.

4- Follow-up

If you need to refill your prescription or change medication, a follow-up is recommended. 

Find the cause. Begin the treatment.

Erectile dysfunction can happen due to physical and mental underlying issues. In most cases, ED indicates a physical problem in the body, such as heart disease or diabetes in the early stages.

Anxiety and depression can also be among contributing factors to erectile dysfunction. Moreover, several drugs (legal and illegal) have erectile dysfunction as a side effect.

After finding the root cause of ED, you can begin to treat your condition effectively, either by counselling, medication, or other more advanced options.

Key takeaways 

  1. Erectile dysfunction is the inability to maintain an erection long enough to have sex.
  2. Most male erectile dysfunction causes are physical.
  3. Second most erectile dysfunction causes are mental.
  4. You can get erectile dysfunction caused by anxiety, depression, or low self-esteem.
  5. Erectile dysfunction causes in the 20s and 30s can be physical or due to a bad lifestyle.
  6. You can experience erectile dysfunction due to the usage of certain medications or substances.
  7. There are several types of treatment available for ED, and oral drugs have proven to be the best of them.
  8. There are several types of oral medications to treat ED symptoms, tailored for specific groups and their needs.
  9. It is crucial that you pay attention to the health of your penis because dysfunction in this organ can mean an underlying medical condition.

This article is written for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information provided in the articles cannot and should not replace advice from a healthcare professional. Talk to your healthcare provider about any physical or mental health concerns or the risks and benefits of any treatment or medication.