Because erections involve multiple body systems, as well as our thoughts and emotions, tracking down a single cause of erectile dysfunction doesn't always work. Still, the easiest place to look for a cause of erectile dysfunction is in your own body, and if you're experiencing ED it is recommended that you start by speaking with your doctor about it, and have a complete physical exam. This information will not only help with eventual treatment, but because ED can be an early warning sign of some other health problem, having a physical may offer other information about your health that can be used for prevention of future problems.
To get an erection blood has to flow to the penis and messages need to move from the brain or spinal cord to the penis. Anything that physically interrupts blood flow or the messaging in the body can cause a problem getting an erection. Physical causes of erectile dysfunction can be broken down into a few different categories.
Injuries, Illnesses and Diseases that May Cause Erectile DysfunctionHistorically speaking, it is only recently that medicine has begun to document the sexual impact of many physical conditions. While there are some conditions we have long known to be causes of erectile dysfunction, every year we learn about new physical conditions that contribute to sexual dysfunction. Some common and known ones include:
- heart disease
- high blood pressure
- multiple sclerosis
- Parkinson's disease
- spinal cord injuries
- injuries to the groin (recent research also points to consistent but mild trauma related to cycling)
- conditions that affect thyroid function and/or interrupt hormones in the body
Treatments that May Cause Erectile DysfunctionIt's also possible that medical treatments you are receiving can cause erectile dysfunction, or make erectile dysfunction worse. Any treatment that can damage nerve endings, change hormone levels, or alter blood flow, can lead to ED. More common ones include:
- colon surgery
- other treatments for prostate, penile, and rectal cancers including some chemotherapy and hormone treatments
Drugs that May Cause Erectile DysfunctionBoth prescription medications and recreational drugs can impact ability to get an erection and when taken over time cause erectile dysfunction. Some of the more common ones include:
- medications for high blood pressure, heart disease, and treatment of depression
Even if a physical cause is found for your erectile dysfunction, once you begin experiencing erectile dysfunction there is almost always some psychological and some relationship components. Because erectile dysfunction can be an early warning sign of other health problems it's always a good idea to start with a visit to your doctor. But don't expect that your doctor will be able to find one cause and offer a simple solution. Erectile dysfunction treatments vary, and often only offer some change. You can have a healthy and hot sex life even if you experience erectile dysfunction, but there's no magic pill (despite what all those ads tell you!)