First in a Series: Causes of Erectile Dysfunction

by Stephen McConnell on February 15, 2022

What is Erectile Dysfunction?

Erectile Dysfunction—otherwise abbreviated as ED—is, as the name already implies, a condition whereby someone who identifies as the male sex has trouble getting or retaining penile erection.

This trouble can be intermittent or persistent, and in most occasions can lead to muscles in your body [particularly the ones that are vital to your keeping a penile erection] losing strength and tone.

Sometimes the penis gets partially turgid and erect, but not enough for having a decent sexual intercourse. Other times, the penis gets neither turgid nor erect; it just remains flaccid.

Erectile Dysfunction is referred to as “Impotence” from time to time, but medical experts generally distance themselves from this term as it may be regarded as derogatory to people suffering from it, and as well mistaken for any of its nonmedical meanings.

Erectile Dysfunction is a pretty common condition that some 30 million men in the United States are suffering from.

And because of the social stigma attached to this condition, it can be an uneasy topic for people with it to discuss with anybody; even a healthcare professional, which makes it all the more dangerous.

Erectile Dysfunction can be irritating by itself, not to mention resulting in its sufferer leading a frustrated sex life, losing intimacy with his partner, feeling anxiety and low self-esteem, sinking into depression, etc.

What are the Causes or Risk Factors for Erectile Dysfunction?

While Erectile Dysfunction can develop on its own, it may also result from any of the following:

  • Stress, anxiety, and some other psychological and emotional conditions
  • Health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, diabetes, high blood pressure, chronic kidney disease, heart disease, multiple sclerosis, peyronie’s disease, and prostate cancer
  • Obesity or overweight
  • Smoking and Alcohol consumption
  • Low level of physical activity
  • Injury to the penis, pelvis, or spinal cord
  • Age, though Erectile Dysfunction is not necessarily attendant on aging.

Now, let’s take a seafloor-reaching dive into how each of the above points can cause or be a risk factor for Erectile Dysfunction, shall we?

  • Stress and Anxiety

Stress is the bodily, chemical, mental or emotional reaction of the body to any change that necessitates the reaction for the maintenance of normal functioning of the body.

Anxiety can be referred to as an abnormal and overwhelming sense of apprehension and fear caused by uncertainty about the reality and nature of an impending danger, and by self-doubt about one’s capacity to cope with it.

Anxiety is the most common psychological condition in Australia, with twenty percent of people who identify as male suffering from it at some point in their lives.

Stress is commonly situational and short-lived, like trying to meet a deadline, grinding for an exam, dealing with relationship troubles, being overworked, and so on. While in the case of anxiety, the effects remain in action even when the cause[s] is no more.

I know what you must be wondering by now; however could mental health conditions like stress and anxiety affect such a major factor in my sex life as penile erectility?

Well, here is your answer. There are three types of erection a person who identifies as male can experience: reflexive erection through physical stimulation, psychogenic erection through visual or mental connections, and nocturnal erection through sleep.

Now, for you to experience any of these types of erection, different systems and parts of your body play vital roles. They include: the nervous system, muscles, blood vessels, hormones, and of course emotions.

Needless to say, any disruptions in the roles they play in your penile erection can bring about Erectile Dysfunction.

Likewise, stress and anxiety can affect how your brain [one of the two components of your Central Nervous System, CNS for short] signals your body to react to changes.

And in the case of erection, stress and anxiety can interrupt the way your brain sends messages to your penis to allow for better flow of blood.

Stress and anxiety may again cause a heightened level of stress hormones’ secretion and a lower proportion of testosterone; a sex hormone that among others is very important for the regulation of your libido.