The Symptoms and Causes of Erectile Dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction is a widespread condition that impedes a man’s ability to become fully erect or maintain an erection for any length of time. This makes it difficult or even impossible to enjoy satisfying sexual intercourse, which can trigger difficult emotions and complexes such as anxiety, depression, or even insomnia. 

But despite the fact that millions of men experience erectile dysfunction (ED) on a daily basis, it’s surrounded by a fair amount of negative stigma—and subsequently, misconceptions about what it really is. 

In an effort to demystify the condition and break down some of the barriers surrounding it, we’ve outlined its various symptoms and causes to create a better understanding of the subject.  

3 Signs You Might Have Erectile Dysfunction 

If you’re worried you might have erectile dysfunction, don’t panic. It’s not a death sentence for your sex life. There are a variety of ways to treat it if it is in fact present in your body. 

But before you jump to any conclusions, take a look at the facts. If you experience one or more of the following symptoms, you may be dealing with ED.

  • You struggle to develop erections – even when in the mood
  • You struggle to maintain erections for longer than 1-2 minutes 
  • Your desire for sexual activity is low  

It’s important to remember that everyone experiences a degree of sexual dysfunction sometimes. Libido naturally fluctuates over time, and feeling a dip in sexual desire or arousal every now and then is totally normal. Only when it becomes a perpetually occurring issue should you have cause for concern. 

What Causes Erectile Dysfunction? 

There are many different causes that lead to erectile dysfunction, some of which might surprise you. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not an affliction that only impacts older men. It’s a condition that any sexually mature man can develop. 

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Ultimately, poor circulation is the main culprit behind erectile dysfunction. When there’s an insufficient supply of blood to the genitals, impotence is bound to develop. 

But there are many different ways that this problem can manifest in a man’s body. From diabetes to alcoholism, there are plenty of causes to be aware of. 

Here’s a list of seven of the most common causes of ED in men. 

  • High blood pressure

Also known as hypertension, high blood pressure is one of the most common causes of sexual dysfunction in men. With this condition, the heart and arteries are put under extreme pressure to pump blood, which results in an inconsistent blood flow that negatively impacts an erection. 

  • Sexual trauma or PTSD

Sometimes, it’s not the body that prevents you from becoming aroused, but rather the mind. People who have experienced sexual trauma may develop PTSD, causing them to become anxious during sexual encounters. This anxiety can become so intense that it prevents the penis from becoming erect. 

  • Diabetes

Erectile dysfunction statistics tell us that a vast number of men with diabetes will experience erectile dysfunction at some point during their lives. This is because insufficient blood sugar leads to damaged blood vessels, which complicates the arousal process. 

Unfortunately for men with diabetes, this chronic disease often triggers the development of other conditions which put similar pressure on the male sexual arousal system. Coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol to name a few. 

  • Smoking 

Smoking tobacco and marijuana can have a negative impact on the body, and one of them is ED. Smoking damages the blood vessels, which restricts circulation. 

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Poor circulation makes it difficult for both the heart and the genitals to receive the oxygenated blood they need to function normally. 

  • Porn addiction

Porn addiction is one of the lesser-known causes of erectile dysfunction because it isn’t very common. Some men who consume excessive amounts of pornography develop an unhealthy relationship with arousal, making it difficult for them to become erect without watching it. 

  • Alcoholism

Excessive alcohol consumption has many negative side effects, and ED is one of them. Not only is alcohol a depressant (which causes your libido to drop), but it also blocks messaging between your brain and your body, making it harder for the genitals to receive the signal for arousal. 

Alcohol can also cause damage to the blood vessels, making it harder for them to open and close as needed when developing erections. Lowering your alcohol consumption (or completely cutting it out) is one of the simplest and easiest ways to prevent sexual dysfunction.

  • Prescription medication

Unfortunately, there are several prescription medications that cause erectile dysfunction as a side effect. Some of these prescription medications include antidepressants, anti-anxiety antihistamines, anti-epileptic, and anti-inflammatory drugs. 

If you’re experiencing ED as a result of these prescription meds, don’t stop taking them. Instead, consult your doctor about alternative medication or potentially reducing your dose to improve the situation. 

The Takeaway

Learning about sexual dysfunction is important for everyone—male or female. The more you know about what it is and why it occurs, the easier it is to find the right treatment if you need it, or someone you love does.