What causes erectile dysfunction?

High blood pressure, low testosterone, diabetes, heart disease...

ED can be an early sign of more serious health problems

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Disclaimer: This information isn’t a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should never rely upon this article for specific medical advice. If you have any questions or concerns, please talk to your doctor.

What do you need to get an erection?

To understand what causes erectile dysfunction you have to understand how erections work. Luckily there’s a simple erection checklist, according to Dr. Seth Cohen of the NYU Tisch Center for Men’s Health. Cohen simply states that “every erection needs three things”:

  1. A functioning brain
  2. Adequate hormone levels
  3. Good blood flow

That’s it. If your head, heart, or hormones aren’t right, the result is often erectile dysfunction. The most common cause of ED is atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), especially in men over 50. But a lot of things can disrupt these three essential elements of erections. Here’s list of the most common physical, lifestyle, and mental causes of erectile dysfunction.

12 most common physical causes of ED

  • Atherosclerosis (aka “clogged arteries”)
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Family history of heart disease
  • Sleep disorders & sleep apnea
  • Peyronie’s disease (Scarring or extreme curvature of the penis)
  • Nerve damage
  • Injury to the penis
  • Neurological conditions like Parkinson’s disease or Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
  • Prostate cancer treatments like radiation or prostate surgery

5 most common lifestyle causes of ED

  • Alcohol abuse
  • Smoking
  • Illegal drug use (cocaine, marijuana, barbiturates, heroin)
  • Side effects of prescription medications like high blood pressure, allergy, depression, painkillers, and anxiety medication
  • Side effects of over-the-counter medications like antihistamines, Sudafed, and anti-inflammatory drugs

3 most common psychological causes of ED

Many erectile dysfunction causes are reversible

A lot of things can cause ED. But the good news is that you can reverse many of these causes through simple lifestyle changes. Side effects of medication, lack of sleep, poor exercise habits, smoking, excess alcohol, a bad diet, and even riding a bike too much can contribute to erectile dysfunction.

If you notice a change in the strength or frequency of your erections, don’t wait to talk to a doctor. Find out what’s causing your ED and live a healthier, happier life as soon as possible.

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