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Why do psychological issues affect an erection?

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
Most cases of erectile dysfunction (ED) have a physical cause, often cardiovascular. But psychological issues can cause ED as well. Sex begins in the brain, after all. Your brain sends the signal that starts an erection. It sends signals through the central nervous system triggering the increase in blood flow to the penis that leads to an erection. Mood disorders like depression can lower your libido so the brain doesn’t get aroused in the first place. Anxiety can short-circuit the process. Intimacy problems in your relationship can also cause ED. If you can masturbate, but can’t have successful sex with your partner, your ED is likely caused by a psychological problem rather than a physical one. If psychological problems are preventing you from having an enjoyable sex life, it’s time to get help. If you have a partner, the most effective therapy will include both of you. Together, you can learn new ways to show affection and please each other, and that can lower the anxiety about having erections. Try it, you’ll like it!

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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.