The Top 4 Causes of Erectile Dysfunction

A man struggling with erectile dysfunction

A man struggling with erectile dysfunction | Source: iStock

When you suffer from erectile disfunction, it can be incredibly frustrating. Not being able to perform is bound to happen from time to time (with the occasional problem not requiring treatment), but if it’s something that happens often, you may have a condition known as impotence. This condition consistently affects a man’s ability to achieve or maintain an erection or ejaculate. It’s a form of erectile dysfunction, which is defined as experiencing problems achieving an erection at least 50% of the time. If it’s happening to you frequently, it’s time to see your doctor.

Many men don’t realize just how complex the process of male sexual arousal is. It involves the brain, emotions, nerves, muscles, blood vessels, and hormones. Most commonly, stress and other mental health concerns and physical factors can worsen or even cause erectile disfunction, according to WebMD. You’re not alone if you’re suffering from this problem — recent research published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine finds that ED rates among young men are on the rise with one in four men under the age of 40 suffering from it. Here are four of the biggest culprits of erectile dysfunction.

1. Your job

It’s not your job’s fault, but it’s more about how that job makes you feel and what you do as a result of the way you feel. According to, an online clinical directory of dysfunction-focused medical services, men who work in environments that trigger anxiety or depression — those who hold jobs in the health care industry or food service or work as firefighters and police officers — are more likely to cope with their stressful jobs by taking antidepressants, smoking, and drinking, which are known to up your risk of having ED.

These jobs or having any job that causes these psychological conditions are some of the biggest causes for dysfunction, says Justin Sitron, PhD, CSE, a professor in the Center for Human Sexuality Studies at Widener University, to Prevention. “Erections require the nervous system to trigger them, and if the system is depressed or distracted, then it won’t happen,” he says. Beside paying a visit to your doctor, try making relaxation a priority the best you can and try not to obsess over it. “Sometimes a man’s dysfunction feeds itself and only makes matters worse,” he says. Sitron recommends relaxation exercises such as meditation or even a massage to take your mind off things and ease your worries.

2. Lifestyle choices


Smoking | Source: Thinkstock

Another big cause of erectile disfunction is your lifestyle choices, such as not getting enough exercise, smoking, and being overweight. All tend to work against proper blood flow to your nether regions, which is a key factor in causing erections. By choosing to stop smoking, vowing to get the the gym, and eating healthier, you can work toward solving your persistent problems without any severe steps or medication.

3. You watch too much porn

Watching porn excessively can lead to psychological problems, says Muhammad A. Mirza, MD, the board certified internist behind, to Prevention. “Porn is often skewed from reality, and there’s research suggesting that the human brain organically changes when you watch too much of it,” he says. Mirza adds that it becomes sort of like an addiction, making it so you can’t get an erection without that specific kind of stimulation that comes from porn. Not only can it cause ED, but it can place a strain on your relationships. Consider seeing a sex therapist if you find yourself nursing a potential addiction to pornography. Also consider talking to your partner about your porn habit and ease your fears and embarrassment by seeing if some of your porn preferences include things you both fantasize about (such as threesome, bondage, etc.).

4. Medical conditions

doctor in a white coat holding a symbol to indicate heart health

Doctor holding a heart-shaped ball | Source: iStock

Any medical condition that affects your blood vessels or nerves can hinder your ability to achieve an erection. Conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, multiple sclerosis, and diabetes can all lead to erectile dysfunction. In fact, as many as 60% of men who have diabetes find that they have this condition. Additionally, hormone-related issues such as low testosterone levels, which is more so a factor with older men, as well as prostate cancer treatments, including radiation and surgery, can be the culprit.

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