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Is erectile dysfunction caused by physical problems?

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine

Once upon a time, most docs thought a man’s problem in the bedroom was caused by high anxiety or other “mental problems”. Now we know differently. Doctors realize that erectile dysfunction (ED) is a physical problem. Indeed, about 80% of the time, erectile dysfunction (ED) has a physical cause. In short, when your arteries get hard, you might not.

Physical problems that increase your risk of ED include atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure, and high blood cholesterol. Each of these affect the ability of blood to flow efficiently, and it is blood flow to your penis that leads to an erection. The good news is that treating the underlying physical cause may also treat ED.
Madeleine M. Castellanos, MD
Psychiatry
Most cases of erectile problems are caused or influenced by physical issues, particularly those that limit blood flow to the penis or damage the nerves in that organ. These include:
  • High blood pressure
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Low levels of testosterone or other hormonal problems
  • Tobacco
  • Alcohol
  • Certain prescription and illegal drugs
  • Treatments for prostate cancer or an enlarged prostate

Continue Learning about Erectile Dysfunction Causes

Is It Important to Look For Psychological Causes of Erectile Dysfunction?
Is It Important to Look For Psychological Causes of Erectile Dysfunction?
Is Erectile Dysfunction Common After Prostate Cancer Treatment?
Is Erectile Dysfunction Common After Prostate Cancer Treatment?
Can Diabetes Cause Erectile Dysfunction (ED)?
Can Diabetes Cause Erectile Dysfunction (ED)?
What Are the Causes of Erectile Dysfunction (ED)?
What Are the Causes of Erectile Dysfunction (ED)?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.