Can erectile dysfunction be caused by stress?

Yes. Stress definitely can cause erectile dysfunction (ED). It may become an issue with a new relationship or when challenges at work become overwhelming. These issues can interfere with “erotic focus” or “awareness of sensory experience.” Basically, it can take someone out of “the moment” making maintaining an erection a challenge.

In fact, while stress is a common cause of erectile dysfunction in those under the age of 40, it can be responsible for ED at any age.

Also, while younger men are more likely to have a psychological reason for their ED, physical reasons cannot be excluded. Nevertheless, in younger men the causes are often related to stress, depression, extreme anxiety, or some other disruption in their emotional state. Young men may have physical reasons that cause ED, including issues like abnormal hormone production, trauma that affects the blood vessels of the penis, peyronie’s disease that causes a bend in the penis, neurological conditions that affect the transmission of signals that result in erections, drug or alcohol use, or the use of medications as simple as antihistamines.

Also, in men under the age of 40, ED can be an early sign that vascular disease is beginning to affect them. An erection is an indicator of a man’s general health. It is always worth exploring the possible physical issues that could be at work.

Nevertheless, in the younger population stress and depression are not uncommon causes of ED.

Psychological Causes of ED
  • Depression: Depression is recognized as having effects far beyond mood. It can compromise someone’s immune system or even increase the likelihood of having a heart attack. Erectile dysfunction can affect someone with depression even when he is in a stable and loving relationship. Unfortunately, the drugs used to treat depression can cause erectile dysfunction, as well. The good news is that erectile dysfunction medications work whether the difficulty is from the depression itself or from the medications.
  • Anxiety: People think of Performance Anxiety (worry about “performing” sexually) but anxiety over any issue that is distracting can lead to erectile dysfunction.
  • Stress: Stress can be job-related, money-related, or the result of marital problems, among other factors.
  • Loss of Desire: This is called loss of libido by doctors. It means that a person no longer desires sexual intimacy as they once had. Hormone changes as in low testosterone can cause erectile dysfunction, but so can so can neurological or psychological conditions, medications, or relationship issues. The reason should be investigated to resolve the issue. Erectile dysfunction (ED) drugs will not work for many of these patients. A person must feel a desire for sex to kick off the process that allows the medications to function properly.
  • Sense of Inadequacy: Feeling bad about oneself (Low Self Esteem) can stem from a man being unable to fulfill the role he believes gives him value as a man. It can be a failure to provide as he hoped for his family, an inability to gain acceptance in a peer group, or being unable to engage in sexual intimacy with a spouse or partner.
  • Guilt: Guilt over having an affair, losing the family’s money, having a hidden compulsion like gambling or drug use, or being unable to satisfy a partner, as examples, can all interfere with being able to get aroused or engage in sex.