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5 Common Causes of Erectile Dysfunction

Dr. Hira Tanveer

3 min read

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Erectile dysfunction or impotence refers to the inability to get and maintain an erection. Occasionally having erectile dysfunction is not a cause for concern, however, an ongoing issue can herald an underlying disorder. 

Moreover, the likelihood of ED increases with age, yet it’s not an inevitable part of growing older. Almost 22 percent of men over the age of 60 years and 30 percent over the age of 70 can complain of impotence. Read on to know more about the common causes of erectile dysfunction:     

1.Medical conditions

Erectile dysfunction can be a side effect of many chronic health conditions, especially those involving the endocrine system. Among these, diabetes is on the top of the list, likely because of its involvement in the nervous system as well. 

Diabetes, especially with unchecked high blood glucose levels for an extended period of time can damage the nerves responsible for inducing an erection. Additionally, diabetes damages the blood vessels as well, and the damage to penile veins can result in erectile dysfunction. 

Cardiovascular diseases are also a common cause of impotence. Cardiovascular diseases involve increased blood cholesterol, and narrowing of the blood vessels. This atherosclerosis, not only puts a person on the risk of a heart attack but also is a cause of ED. Similarly, hypertension—with constant high blood pressure, also ends up damaging the penile blood vessels and results in the inability to achieve an erection. 

There are also neurological conditions that increase the risk of impotence. Diseases like multiple sclerosis, temporal lobe epilepsy, stroke, brain tumors, and Parkinson’s disease, all make it difficult for the brain to convey the message to the rest of the body by way of nerves. 

Another common cause of nerve damage is prostate surgery. There is a bunch of nerves (plexus) around the prostate gland, and any surgery around this part of the body can damage the nerves there. Similarly, long-distance bicycle riders can experience temporary impotence, due to the effect on nerves. 


Certain medications can impair the flow of blood, and result in impotence. However, despite this side effect, no medication should be left or stopped without the permission of your healthcare provider. Sometimes drugs, such as for blood pressure and depression can interfere with the blood circulation, and hormones and result in ED.

Examples of medications that cause impotence include antihistamines, alpha-blockers, beta-blockers, diuretics, anti-depressants and SSRIs, sedative-hypnotics, cancer chemotherapy medications, and synthetic hormones. 

If you suspect that your condition is a side effect of medication, then it’s better to discuss it with your doctor, rather than leaving the medicine. 

3.Physical causes of erectile dysfunction

Any damage to the nerves of the lower body, such as through physical trauma can result in impotence. Many people have vehicular accidents, or falls that can damage the nerve plexus responsible for erection. Spinal damage, due to trauma, can also result in impotence. 

Many people have also expressed concern about prolonged cycling, and the possible negative impact it could have on sexual health. However, a recent study, published in Journal of Men’s Health, debunked the relationship between erectile dysfunction and prolonged cycling.

4.Psychological causes of erectile dysfunction

Relationship problems and psychological factors can also result in ED. According to statistics, the commonest cause of impotence in younger men is anxiety and depression. Additionally, the feeling of inadequacy, guilt, low self-esteem, performance anxiety, and fear of sexual failure can compound the problem. 

In rare cases, if a man has never achieved an erection, then barring any anatomical deformity, the cause is almost always psychological. This type of erectile dysfunction is called primary ED. 

There can also be an overlap between psychological and physical causes, with factors associated with treatable mental health illnesses and even everyday stressors. A result of these stressors is decreased libido, erectile dysfunction, and unsatisfactory sexual health. Ironically, many of the drugs used to treat depression and anxiety also cause ED as a side effect. 

One way to deal with stress can be to make lifestyle modifications and incorporating relaxing techniques into your routine. Working out daily, getting enough sleep, and seeking counseling and therapy are some ways to combat stress in life.  

5.Lifestyle factors 

Poor health choices, especially poor eating habits, drinking alcohol, using drugs of abuse, smoking, and not working out can all be contributory factors to erectile dysfunction. Foods with high cholesterol and sodium content can contribute to poor circulation, and in turn worsen ED. Smoking also causes damage to the blood vessels, causing them to become thickened with poor circulation. 

On the other hand, men who work out, and eat food high in antioxidants can mitigate their risk of ED. For better health, it is better to consume foods that are rich in flavonoids, such as apples, celery, strawberries, green tea, and grape fruit. This type of food can help greatly in battling the risk of chronic diseases, and help men give up smoking and substance abuse.  

If you are dealing with poor sexual health then, book an appointment with a top urologist in Lahore, Multan , and Islamabad through oladoc.com, or call our helpline at 042-3890-0939 for assistance to find the RIGHT professional for your concerns.

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are intended to raise awareness about common health issues and should not be viewed as sound medical advice for your specific condition. You should always consult with a licensed medical practitioner prior to following any suggestions outlined in this article or adopting any treatment protocol based on the contents of this article.

Dr. Hira Tanveer - Author Dr. Hira Tanveer is an MBBS doctor and currently serving at CMH Lahore. Writing is her favorite hobby as she loves to share professional advice on trendy healthcare issues, general well-being, healthy diet, and lifestyle.
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