A man lying on the floor and thinking

Many people have heard of erectile dysfunction (ED), and it’s one of the most common sexual difficulties affecting adult males; however, what causes erectile dysfunction generally requires more explanation.

Men and their partners usually want to know—what is the main cause of ED? Erectile dysfunction can result from many physical or psychological factors, and the reasons can vary from man to man.

It’s best to get a professional diagnosis to pinpoint why ED is happening, but the good news is, there are multiple effective strategies to treat erectile dysfunction.

Let’s discuss ED and its physical or psychological factors.

Definition of Erectile Dysfunction

ED (also known as impotence) occurs when a man constantly fails to get or keep an erection. The keyword here is constantly, and infrequent problems getting an erection do not necessarily mean you have ED.

Continuing erectile dysfunction often causes stress and affects a man’s self-confidence and sexual relationships.

What Is the Main Cause of ED?

To get an erection, a man must have adequate circulation and blood flow through his body. Age-related erectile dysfunction occurs in older men when micro-plaque builds up in their blood vessels.

When the blood vessels in and around the penis become obstructed, and blood flow is restricted, it can become difficult—or impossible—to get an erection.

What Are Other Causes of Erectile Dysfunction?

As we mentioned, the risk factors for ED can be physical or psychological. We’ve listed common physical causes, followed by psychological factors that contribute to erectile dysfunction.

Physical Causes of ED

The following physical disorders and diseases are known to restrict blood flow within a man’s body, including to the blood vessels around the penis:

  • Peripheral artery disease
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol levels
  • Diabetes
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Peyronie’s Disease
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Multiple sclerosis

Other physical conditions may trigger erectile dysfunction and put a man at greater risk of developing more serious health problems in the future.

Obesity is a physical condition that is associated with erectile dysfunction. A man’s heart is stressed to work harder when he’s at an unhealthy weight, affecting sexual performance.

Hormonal imbalances or low testosterone levels are other physical factors in many men with ED, but sometimes, a physical cause cannot be identified by specialists. In this situation, men are often tested for vascular disease.

Finally, there may be risks associated with some prescription medications that cause erectile dysfunction or make symptoms worse. These may include medications for high blood pressure, depression, high cholesterol, prostate disease, and psychiatric disorders.

Psychological Causes of ED

While the physical factors that can cause erectile dysfunction can be diagnosed and treated medically, mental health factors are often harder to detect and diagnose.

Therefore, we offer treatment options for the following psychological conditions in men with ED.

Anxiety is a mental health issue that causes physical side effects like high blood pressure, fatigue, and an increased heart rate. In addition, feelings of anxiety can affect a man’s sexual performance and anxiety is a major psychological cause of ED.

Stress is common, and while some stress can motivate us, an overwhelming amount of stress can seriously affect our sexual performance.

Depression is often a result of chemical imbalances in the brain that can affect mental, physical, and sexual functions. 

Relationship issues can negatively affect intimacy and sex, but that doesn’t mean your relationship is doomed. Depression or anxiety can cause poor communication and anger. Working with your partner on these issues is healthy and can help treat ED.

Sexual fears often increase in men who start experiencing erectile dysfunction. Some men worry they’ll never get an erection again, leading to low self-esteem and greater anxiety. Other men experience thoughts of guilt around sex, affecting their ability to get or maintain an erection.

Unhealthy habits like smoking cigarettes or abusing alcohol can eventually lead to serious health conditions, including ED. Men with substance abuse issues often suffer from sleep disorders, and this complication puts them at further risk of erectile dysfunction.

Effective Treatment Options for Erectile Dysfunction

The first step in effectively treating your erectile dysfunction is being honest with yourself and addressing what you’re thinking and feeling. Sex therapy is a reliable treatment option with good long-term results for men affected by ED.

Past traumas can affect your sex life now, and current feelings of anxiety or depression are equally devastating. Talking with our professional psychologist is physically and mentally beneficial, and options like somatic therapy can be effective in any ED treatment plan.

Now that you better understand what causes erectile dysfunction, please browse our website for our multiple treatment strategies. Our most requested treatment is Acoustic Shockwave Therapy, a painless, drug-free option to effectively treat ED with minimal to no downtime.

We welcome you to book a free consultation with us to diagnose the main cause of your ED. Our confidential men’s health clinics are conveniently located in Toronto, Oakville, and Brampton, serving men and their partners throughout the GTA.

You deserve health, happiness, and a lifetime of great sex. We are specialists in treating men’s sexual health issues, including erectile dysfunction, and we’re here for you. Contact us today!

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Holland, K., 2017. Is Erectile Dysfunction Psychological?. [online] Healthline. Available at: <https://www.healthline.com/health/erectile-dysfunction/psychological#treatment> [Accessed 2 October 2021].

Pruthi, S., 2021. Erectile dysfunction – Symptoms and causes. [online] Mayo Clinic. Available at: <https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/erectile-dysfunction/symptoms-causes/syc-20355776> [Accessed 14 October 2021].

Betterhealth.vic.gov.au. 2021. Erectile dysfunction – Better Health Channel. [online] Available at: <https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/erectile-dysfunction#causes-of-erectile-dysfunction> [Accessed 16 October 2021].

Hopkinsmedicine.org. 2021. Peripheral Vascular Disease. [online] Available at: <https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/peripheral-vascular-disease> [Accessed 18 October 2021].

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