If you are wondering if the sexual health symptoms you are experiencing are concerning, here is information on the causes of Erectile Dysfunction. Some causes may come as a surprise, and some might be warranted. Either way, we hope you find answers and peace in your journey with ED.
Causes of Erectile Dysfunction
If you are a heavy smoker, research suggests you will have a higher risk of developing ED down the road. Smoking cigarettes can damage blood vessels in the body. This affects your sexual health by damaging the blood vessels in the penis, which can limit blood flow. Limiting blood flow to the penis will affect the ability to get and form erections firm enough for sexual intercourse. There is still hope. If you currently smoke, start your journey to quitting. Once you quit, the symptoms of ED can be reversed.
Drinking alcohol can affect your sex life. Most individuals think that alcohol makes sex more fun or improves the quality of sex. This theory is wrong. Alcohol has effects on the ability to form an erection for sexual intercourse. Alcohol can affect blood volume in the human body, which in turn affects the capability for you to form an erection. You can experience short-term and long-term ED from consuming alcohol. If drinking during sexual relations, you might have short-term difficulty forming an erection. This is not always the case, these symptoms can also stick around long after you are sober.
3. Drug Use
Prescription drug use and recreational drug use can be a trigger for developing ED.
Prescription Drug Use, drugs such as antidepressants, can alter the chemicals in the brain, which can affect sexual libido, among other things. Some drugs used to treat chemotherapy patients can cause neuropathy. This in turn can lead to problems with the penis and the ability to form erections. Blood pressure medication can affect sexual function by disrupting smooth muscles in the penis and preventing it from relaxing. This affects blood reaching the penis and can cause ED symptoms. Certain steroids and antihistamines (among other drugs) have the ability to block Testosterone or affect its level in your body.
Recreational Drug Use – Certain drugs such as heroin have the ability to decrease sex drive while also decreasing levels of Testosterone circulating in your body. Marijuana may increase sexual desire short-term in certain individuals, but also decrease blood flow to the penis. Cocaine can also decrease blood flow and affect the penis.
A little over 300 million people around the world are considered to be obese. With over 300,000 deaths related to obesity per year, it is also a risk factor for Erectile Dysfunction. For men, 79% have a BMI of greater than 25kg. Increased fat tissue, hormone imbalance, and insulin resistance are just a few factors considered a cause for this disorder presenting in obese men.
5. Lack of Exercise
Throughout your life, you probably have heard or have been taught about the benefits of physical activity. There is not one organ or part in your body that does not benefit from exercising. Your brain, heart, and lungs especially reap the benefits of moving your body. Your bones, muscles, joints, etc. all become healthier as you keep consistent to a workout regime. Your chances of developing cancer, and other life-threatening illnesses, are significantly less than those individuals who do not exercise regularly.
What most people have not heard (or have not been taught) is that exercise, or the lack thereof, can also affect your sexual health. After a study performed by Harvard Health was analyzed, it was found that men who ran for 1 ½ hours per week had a 20% less chance of developing Erectile Dysfunction in their lifetime. The results only got better from there. They also concluded from the results, that the more you exercise, the bigger the sexual health benefit. It was found that men who ran for 2 ½ hours each week had a 30% less chance of developing ED.
When we outline Injury as a cause for Erectile Dysfunction, we do not mean your average broken leg, or fractured pinky finger. Injury here is considered to be injury to the private area or injury to the penis and testes. Naturally, injury to these sexual organs would have an effect on sexual output and ability. Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) can also lead to Erectile Dysfunction.
7. High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure (HBP) or clinically termed “Hypertension,” is the condition that reduces blood flow throughout the body. It is not a rare occurrence to come in contact with. Since Hypertension affects the blood flow throughout the body, for men it can mean the formation of Erectile Dysfunction and its associated symptoms. For women, its effects are a little different. Women can experience a sudden decrease in sexual desire, fatigue, and different responses from their bodies during sexual intercourse.
8. Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s Disease is a disease that affects your Autonomic Nervous System. It is a progressive disease that has characteristics of muscle tremors, muscle rigidity, and slow movements. Some effects of Parkinson’s Disease relay through to sexual health. Your Autonomic Nervous System is used in sexual intercourse and your response to sex and functioning. This disease acts on the neurons in the brain, which causes a decrease in Dopamine. Dopamine is responsible for some smooth muscle movement, which can cause issues related to Erectile Dysfunction.
9. Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a chronic and progressive disease. This is characterized by damage to the sheaths of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. This relates to your sexual health by affecting the quality or ability to form erections, which is termed Erectile Dysfunction. Men form erections when the brain signals the muscle in the penis to relax. This leads to blood flow rushing in and creating an erection. When an individual has Multiple Sclerosis, the nerves are not able to relay communication, and they are deeply affected. When brain signals can’t reach where they need to and do their job in this case, you might experience some symptoms of Erectile Dysfunction.
10. Antidepressant Medication
Sexual issues can arise from taking antidepressant medication. There are other effects to taking medication such as this, but for the purposes of this article, we are talking about those relating to Erectile Dysfunction. Antidepressant medications affect the levels of dopamine in the body, which in turn can affect the ability to form an erection.
11. Prostate Cancer
Prostate Cancer has an effect on the status of Erectile Dysfunction in your life. When surgery is completed, the injury to the private area can lead to ED. Erectile Dysfunction is actually the most common side effect after treatment of Prostate Cancer. This is not to say that after you go through cancer treatment, you will never be able to enjoy sexual intercourse again. Usually about 1 year after treatment, you start feeling normal again.
12. Kidney Disease
For men who have Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD), ED is a common side effect. Around 80% of patients with CKD have Erectile Dysfunction. There are factors such as gonadal pituitary system, effects of the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS), endothelial function, anemia, Zinc deficiency, medication effects, etc. that can lead to developing symptoms of ED.
For some individuals, the effects of depression and Erectile Dysfunction can play off of each other. Some experience feelings of depression initially, which can trigger symptoms of ED. Others develop ED first, which leads them into depressed feelings and emotions. Either way, both conditions are firmly linked. For most individuals who get help for their depression or depressed state of mind and turn it around, they see a decrease in their symptoms of ED as well.
14. Stress And Anxiety
By now, you can gather that age is not the only factor in the development of Erectile Dysfunction. Causes of this disorder are not only physical, but include mental components as well. Studies have shown that the leading cause of ED in men is not actually anything physical. It is a mental aspect that affects the most men worldwide. The good news is that these psychological factors are treatable and you can get help. Stress and anxiety are ailments that a lot of individuals deal with on a day-to-day basis. Help is available in the form of therapy, counseling, and self-care.
Visit Genesys Men’s Health for Help with Erectile Dysfunction
We hope you have learned a lot as we shared some common causes of Erectile Dysfunction with you. You do not have to go the path of Erectile Dysfunction alone, there is help available to you. We have a friendly staff that is eager to help you on your path to recovery. They are well-trained and will happily answer any questions and concerns you may have at any time. You can visit our office in Sandy, Utah, or give us a call at (801)-671-7456. Contact us today!