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Causes of Erectile Dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is one of the most common sex problems men have. ED occurs when a man is having trouble maintaining an erection long enough to have sex.

It can be embarrassing and frustrating, but it is important to talk to your doctor about ED. Determining the cause of erectile dysfunction can help you find the most effective treatment.

At PhysioMD’s Estero, FL, men’s clinic, we will do everything we can to make sure we find the root cause(s) and create the best possible treatment plan for you.

What causes erectile dysfunction?

There is not one exact, single cause of erectile dysfunction — there are many potential causes. Having one of these causes may also be linked to other causes, which can make it more likely for you to experience erectile dysfunction.

ED causes include:

Age and erectile dysfunction 

Age may just be a number, but the higher that number is, the more likely it is for you to experience erectile dysfunction.

While it is normal for middle aged men to experience erectile dysfunction every once in a while, it is not normal to experience it on a regular basis.

Regularly experiencing erectile dysfunction may be a sign of other health issues — even life-threatening ones.

Low testosterone levels and ED

Testosterone is the hormone that is responsible for producing sperm and what gives men their sex drives. A lower sex drive may result in erectile dysfunction.

As you age, your testosterone levels gradually decrease. But for some men, those levels decrease much faster than they do in others. This is called low testosterone, or low T for short.

Low T can be treated with testosterone replacement therapy (TRT). TRT has several different treatment methods available:

  • Injections
  • Pills
  • Gels
  • Patches
  • Pellet implants

Blocked blood vessels and cardiovascular disease

red blood cells

Blood flow plays a very important role in erectile function. When a man is sexually aroused, blood flows through the penis and creates an erection.

One of the most common causes of erectile dysfunction is when blood vessels have blockages, making it more difficult for blood to flow properly. These blockages are often created by the gradual build-up of microplaque in the arteries.

Microplaque is often associated with the cardiovascular system: your heart and the blood vessels throughout the body. It’s also one of the most common causes of heart attacks in men.

Microplaque build-up can be caused by a variety of factors:

  • Genetics
  • Lack of exercise
  • Unhealthy diet
  • High cholesterol
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Excessive alcohol use
  • Drug use

The presence of microplaque in the penis’s blood vessels may indicate more dangerous health issues and risks.

If microplaque is the cause of erectile dysfunction, oral medications like Viagra and Cialis will not be as effective. These drugs can be dangerous for people with heart issues, which may be part of the problem if microplaque build-up is the root cause of ED.

Another treatment option is vascular reconstructive surgery. However, doctors rarely suggest undergoing this procedure because it is difficult from a technical standpoint, expensive, and may not work. The risks of vascular reconstructive surgery often outweigh any benefits.

The best treatment option in this case is shockwave therapy, a non-invasive, drug-free procedure that uses sound waves to break up microplaque in the penis. It also breaks down older and weaker blood vessels, which encourages the growth of newer, healthier arteries.

Shockwave therapy has been used for more than just treating ED; it’s also used to improve overall sexual function.

Obesity can contribute to erectile dysfunction 

Being overweight or obese can contribute to erectile dysfunction, as well as the cardiovascular health problems discussed in the above section.

A sedentary lifestyle can result in being overweight or obese, which makes the heart work harder to pump blood through the body. Microplaque blockages tend to occur more frequently.

The best treatment option for these causes is shockwave therapy. However, eating healthier and being more active can help improve blood flow and your sex life.

Digestive and kidney diseases

Eating unhealthily while being inactive can lead to digestive health issues, such as Type 2 diabetes.

Diabetes is not only a cause of erectile dysfunction, but also of kidney disease. Kidney disease is yet another potential ED cause.

Having untreated or unchecked diabetes can lead to more severe digestive issues and health problems over time, with erectile dysfunction being one of the lesser concerns.

If you have Type 2 diabetes and erectile dysfunction, make sure that you are eating healthier foods and are paying attention to the amount of sugar you’re consuming. Check your blood sugar levels regularly and inject insulin or take your medications as prescribed.

This, combined with erectile dysfunction treatment methods, can help improve your sexual function.

Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis

Certain health conditions can cause erectile dysfunction. Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis (MS) are two commonly known causes of erectile dysfunction.

Both of these chronic illnesses affect the nervous system.

MS affects the central nervous system and makes the immune system attack the protective layer around nerve fibers. This makes it more difficult for the brain to communicate to the rest of the body. If the brain can’t properly communicate arousal to the nerves in the penis, then it will make achieving an erection much more difficult.

Parkinson’s affects movement and can also cause depression, anxiety, and sleep issues — all of which can negatively affect erectile function.

Prostate cancer or an enlarged prostate

Prostate cancer, radiation for prostate cancer treatment, or treatment for an enlarged prostate are all underlying causes of erectile dysfunction. 

Tobacco, alcohol, and drug use

Using any tobacco products — chewing tobacco, cigars, or cigarettes — can increase your chances of experiencing erectile dysfunction. Tobacco use can contribute to clogged lungs and arteries.

An occasional drink here and there is absolutely fine, but if you are drinking excessively, you are putting yourself at greater risk of ED.

Some prescription medications, particularly those that treat high blood pressure or depression, may result in a decreased sex drive and erectile dysfunction along with it.

Mental health

The state of your mental health can affect your sex life. The following mental health problems all have the potential to lead to ED:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Sleep disorders
  • Relationship issues
  • Stress

Talk to a doctor at PhysioMD for ED medical advice

If erectile dysfunction is negatively affecting your sex life, it’s time to talk to a doctor. At PhysioMD, you can expect a non judgemental experience from our healthcare professionals. We will work with you to create a treatment plan for your erectile dysfunction issues. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

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