Erectile dysfunction, often called ED, is the inability to achieve or maintain an erection. People with ED experience difficulties in sexual activities because they don’t get hard enough to satisfy their partner sexually. This problem affects around 18 million men in the United States. Though men of all ages can experience erectile dysfunction once they pass puberty, this problem is more widespread in men over 40 years. With every passing decade, the risk of encountering erectile dysfunction increases.
Men suffering from this medical condition often ask the question, “Why is this happening to me?” While this is a question that only a doctor or healthcare provider can answer after examining the individual and running some tests, we prepared a guide to inform you about some of the common risk factors and causes for erectile dysfunction in most men.
A person’s age plays a significant role in every aspect of their health. The younger the person, the fewer chances of them getting sick, but that doesn’t mean that young people cannot face erectile dysfunction problems. However, your age can be a good indicator of your chances of getting erectile dysfunction.
About 2% to 12% of men aged 40 experience some form of ED and this percentage grows with every decade of life. Almost half the men over 70 years of age suffer from either temporary or persistent erectile dysfunction.
Sedentary Lifestyle And Obesity
Being overweight is not suitable for anyone. It causes you to experience all sorts of health problems ranging from diabetes to heart disease. While almost everyone knows about the adverse effects that excess weight can have on their health, not many know that your body starts to turn testosterone into estrogen when you are overweight. Scientists believe that obesity, doing little to no exercise, and eating unhealthy food can result in erectile dysfunction.
However, you can reverse this problem by making the necessary lifestyle changes. With proper support, anyone can lose weight and begin exercising more. When you incorporate these healthy habits into your daily routine, you will start to get better and longer-lasting erections. If you have ED problems and are overweight, consult with a healthcare professional before starting a diet or exercise plan.
Diabetes can cause several health complications, as it affects every aspect of a person’s health. Facing erectile dysfunction is also a consequence of diabetes. Men with either type-1 or type-2 diabetes have to live with the possibility of facing erectile dysfunction—the risk of facing ED increases with the time you spend having diabetes.
Though sometimes the erectile dysfunction caused by diabetes is not a completely reversible problem, you can often manage it by regulating your blood sugar levels. Doctors estimate between 2% and 12% of men over 40 experience ED, but the percentage of men with ED is close to 50% in those who have high blood sugar. While there is no cure for diabetes, you can reduce your chances of getting ED by following your doctor’s advice on how to control your blood sugar levels.
High Blood Pressure, Heart Disease, High Cholesterol
A man’s heart health and erectile dysfunction are closely connected. Doctors know that medical problems like high blood pressure and high cholesterol can result in erectile dysfunction for a long time. Recent studies revealed that when men develop erectile dysfunction, they also tend to get diagnosed with heart disease in less than five years.
So, if you don’t have any apparent health issues and experiencing erectile dysfunction, reach out to a healthcare professional and ask them to take a look at your heart. You might avoid developing heart disease by catching it in the early stage.
Smoking and tobacco use are severely harmful to a person as it can result in various health problems, including erectile dysfunction. Using tobacco products can cause the blood flow to decrease in your entire body, including the blood vessels in the penis. When the blood supply decrease in the penis, it becomes difficult for a person to achieve and sustain erections. Fortunately, this problem is reversible. Your erections can improve when you stop smoking or consuming other tobacco products.
While it might seem challenging, it never too late to quit smoking. You could seek out professional help if you tried stopping but remain unsuccessful. Stopping smoking will not only improve your erectile dysfunction, but it will also bring a positive change in your overall health.
Side Effects Of Medicines
Consumption of various medications, including both prescription and over-the-counter, can result in erectile dysfunction. Anti-depressants, blood pressure medications, antihistamines, acid reflux medicines, and opioid pain medicines are among the drugs that can cause erectile dysfunction in men. While these medicines are part of the problem, they are not the only ones that can put you in this condition. If you are experiencing difficulties with getting and maintaining erections, make a note of the medicines you have started taking recently and consult a doctor to confirm if those drugs contribute to erectile dysfunction.
It is also vital to remember that consuming too much alcohol and recreational drugs like marijuana can also result in erectile dysfunction.
Performance Anxiety And Mental Health Issues
While you might think having sex purely a physical process, it is not. The state of your mind significantly dictates how good of an experience you will be having. Your brain plays an essential role in achieving and sustaining an erection as the blood vessels that carry the blood to the penis required for erection.
You might be unable to get an erection when you are under stress or have mental health issues. Often, under pressure, the brain has trouble creating nerve connections and releasing hormones required for causing an erection. Things that can cause your mind to not perform correctly during a sexual encounter include depression, anxiety, grief, relationship difficulties, watching excess of pornography, and performance anxiety in the bedroom. While problematic, these are manageable, and you can reverse these effects by seeking the right kind of treatment.
Prostate Cancer And Prostate Inflammation
An unhealthy prostate can result in erectile dysfunction. The prostate creates one of the components required for making semen and paly a significant role in sexual activities. Though BPH (benign prostatic hyperplasia) does not cause erectile dysfunction, the medicines that help treat it can.
Chronic prostate inflammation or prostate cancer can also cause painful ejaculation and problems in getting an erection. Make sure to talk with a healthcare professional if you have known prostate issues and are experiencing erectile dysfunction.
Sexually Transmitted Infections
Another common question among men is whether STIs (sexually transmitted infections) can cause erectile dysfunction. The answer to this question is “yes.” Several STIs like gonorrhea, chlamydia, viral hepatitis, and untreated HIV can lead to infections in the prostate gland. These infections can make you experience symptoms of ED.
Generally, when you get treatment for prostate infection and STIs, any erectile dysfunction problems will also resolve. If you left a prostate infection untreated, then it can result in permanent damage, so make sure to visit your doctor for this problem as soon as possible.
Experts estimate that 1 in 4 men has lower than normal testosterone levels. These lower testosterone levels cause various health issues in men, including insomnia, hair loss, decreased sex drive, and erectile dysfunction. These adverse symptoms increase with the falling levels of testosterone. You can ask a doctor to recommend a blood test to check your testosterone levels. You can manage it with medication, and once the levels reach normal, you will notice ED problems going away.
Things to remember
Though these are the most common causes behind erectile dysfunction, some men may experience ED for various reasons. Regardless of the cause, you can seek available treatment options by consulting your doctor. Some of the well-known medications for ED like Viagra (sildenafil) and Cialis (tadalafil) are readily available in the market.
Often it’s not the treatment that is hard to find. It is people’s unwillingness to talk about erectile dysfunction that hinders their ability to seek treatment. Don’t hesitate to talk about these problems with a healthcare provider, as they can help you find the right treatment.