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Common Medical Causes of Erectile Dysfunction

return to Erectile Dysfunction articles

Having a CBC (Complete Blood Count) panel, in addition to other medical tests, will help rule out any underlying medical conditions that may be causing your erectile dysfunction. In many men, impotence may be a direct result of psychological or psychical conditions, or often a combination of both. There are many different medical conditions that may cause ED, but here are some of the most common.

Thyroid Conditions
The thyroid is responsible for maintaining balance in many areas of the body including the regulation of sex hormones. Those experiencing both hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid gland) and hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid gland) have often listed ED as a symptom.

Low Testosterone
In men, testosterone regulates many sexual functions and low levels may affect the ability to achieve and maintain an erection. Low testosterone is also a risk factor for developing atherosclerosis (see below). Typically on its own, low testosterone is not a real cause of ED but combined with other medical problems, the likelihood increases.

Atherosclerosis
Atherosclerosis is caused by the thickening of artery wallsand is frequently the result of a buildup of a fatty substance like cholesterol. When this buildup takes place, blood cannot flow freely throughout the body and, in addition to many other complications, blood flow to the penis may not be strong enough to achieve an erection.

High Blood Pressure
Both high blood pressure and the medications commonly used to lower it can lead to impotence. In a healthy man, when sexually stimulated the small arteries in the penis dilate in order to allow more blood to flow in. When the body is suffering from the symptoms of high blood pressure however, these arteries cannot expand as easily since the walls are under a substantial amount of pressure.

Diabetes
Men with diabetes are more likely to suffer from erectile dysfunction than those without. When blood sugar levels are unsteady for long periods of time, blood vessels and nerves may be damaged, resulting in problems with adequate blood flow to the penis. Men who suffer from diabetes frequently experience other medical problems that may also result in ED (i.e high blood pressure).

Lifestyle Choices
Perhaps unsurprisingly, how we treat our bodies has much to do with what we get in return. Men who smoke cigarettes, have alcohol problems (or substance abuse of any kind) or suffer from obesity are affected more frequently by erectile dysfunction than men who typically lead healthier lifestyles.

Prescription and Over-the-Counter Medications
Many medications may impact libido and the ability to achieve an erection. The list of meds commonly includes muscle relaxers, anti-depressants, antihistamines, anti-anxiety drugs, heart condition meds and sleeping pills. However, there are countless others that may impact sexual drive and function.

Trauma
Trauma to the nerves, penis or any other main part of the nervous system, muscles or areas of the brain may be responsible for erectile dysfunction.

Prostate Problems
Research has found that men who suffer from an enlarged prostate gland are nearly twice as likely to experience ED.

Psychological Causes
It’s normal for men to have negative feelings associated with erectile dysfunction. Often these range from embarrassment and shame to anger and performance anxiety. Up to 75% of men will at some point experience erectile dysfunction. When it happens even once, anxiety and worry may have a lot to do with its reoccurrence. Other psychological causes of ED include depression, anxiety and low self esteem.