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What are the risk factors for erectile dysfunction?

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
If you have had trouble finding inspiration to start exercising, lose that extra belly flab, and kick certain bad habits, how's this: Your sex life may depend on it. Some of the major risk factors for erectile dysfunction include:
  • Being overweight
  • Being sedentary--that is, not getting enough physical activity
  • Smoking tobacco
  • Abusing alcohol
These are the same risk factors for conditions such as heart disease and diabetes, so it's not surprising to learn that men who develop these and several other conditions are more likely to end up with erectile dysfunction too. What's more, some common medications are known to have the unfortunate side effect of interfering with healthy erections. Abusing recreational drugs can have the same effect.

Erectile dysfunction can also result from certain injuries or surgical procedures (such as to remove a prostate tumor) that can damage nerves that control erections. Nerve-damaging diseases such as multiple sclerosis and Parkinson's disease can also cause erectile dysfunction. Some psychological conditions, such as depression and anxiety, increase the risk too.

It's ironic, but one healthy habit seems to cause some men problems in the bedroom: bicycle riding. Some serious cyclists have reported problems with erectile dysfunction, apparently because all those hours in the saddle compress nerves and reduce blood flow in that important region of the body. Thankfully, cycling-induced erectile dysfunction is usually temporary.

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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.