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Men’s Health - What causes erectile dysfunction?

Many different conditions can lead to erectile dysfunction. Most are health problems requiring treatment to help prevent more serious complications:

» High blood pressure and high cholesterol can injure the arteries that supply blood to the penis

» Diabetes injures blood vessels and the nerves that control erections

» Alcohol and drug abuse can damage blood vessels and deaden the nerves that control erections

Penis Anatomy

» Some prescription drugs such as some antidepressants or some high blood pressure medicines can cause erectile dysfunction. Your doctor may be able to change your drug treatment but never stop taking a prescribed drug without talking to your doctor

» Unhealthy habits like smoking, overeating and avoiding exercise can also contribute

» Anything that's bad for your heart is also bad for your sexual health

» An injury to the spinal cord can interfer with nerve signals

» Treatments for prostate cancer, including radiation and prostate removal, can damage the nerves that control erections

» Diseases that affect the nerves, like multiple sclerosis, can also lead to erection problems

» A small number of cases result from a reduced level of testosterone

» Doctors used to believe that most cases of erectile dysfunction resulted from mental or emotional problems. We now know that most cases have a physical cause. But depression and worry or anxiety can still cause erectile dysfunction and this can lead to depression and worry, making the problem worse

» Erectile dysfunction is not necessarily a part of the normal process of aging. There is quite likely an underlying cause