8 Surprising causes of erectile dysfunction

8 surprising causes of erectile dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction, also known as impotence, is defined as not being able to get or keep an erection firm enough for sex. Remember, occasional erectile dysfunction is not uncommon, but if it’s persistent, erectile dysfunction can be the sign of a more serious health issue, and so you should visit your doctor.

Here are 8 surprising causes of erectile dysfunction:

  1. High cholesterol. Having a raised cholesterol increases the risk of atherosclerosis where the arteries become narrowed and clogged, resulting in impaired blood flow. When this happens to the arteries in the penis, it can prevent enough blood to create an erection from reaching the penis.
  2. Depression. This can cause a lack of interest in sex. See your doctor if this happens to you.
  3. Smoking. Smoking causes damage to blood vessels, including those that supply the penis which can result in difficulty in achieving an erection.
  4. Cycling. Long hours in the saddle without changing position can cause compression of the perineal nerves and blood vessels, resulting in nerve damage which causes erectile dysfunction. Some saddles are worse than others. If cycling is causing you symptoms of tingling or numbness in your penis, adjust your riding position and take a break.  You might want to look at a different saddle, too. Rodeo riding can have the same effect.
  5. Medicines. Erectile dysfunction can be a side-effect of many medicines, including some antipsychotics and antidepressants, cholesterol-lowering medicines, high blood pressure medicines, and epilepsy medicines.
  6. Stress. Feelings of stress and anxiety can overflow onto your sex life, and you may find you can’t perform as well as you normally could. 'Performance anxiety' is a common cause of erectile problems.
  7. Diabetes. Diabetes raises the risk of erectile dysfunction threefold by its effects on nerves and blood vessels.
  8. Peyronie’s disease. This disease causes curvature of the penis due to a hardened area of scar tissue, which results in pain when the man has an erection.

If you suffer from erectile dysfunction, don’t be embarrassed – it affects one in 5 men over 40. Remember your doctor can help identify the cause of your erectile dysfunction,  and put you on the path to successful treatment. Read erectile dysfunction – visiting your doctor to find out what to expect when you visit your doctor.

Last Reviewed: 18 February 2016

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