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by Jekaterina Gussarova August 01, 2022 4 min read



Erectile dysfunction (impotence)The inability to obtain and maintain a hard-on for intercourse. Below are the common causes of erectile dysfunction, including obesity, smoking, sleep disorders, and insufficient exercise.

Having erection issues isn't a cause for alarm. However, if erectile dysfunction( ED) is a long-term condition, it can cause stress and low self-esteem, leading to mental complications. Men with ED seek different treatments, hoping to revive their sex lives. However, before seeking treatment, it is essential to identify the causes. This article highlights the causes of erectile dysfunction to help you find the right treatment.

Causes of Erectile Dysfunction


Guys suffer from erection problems due to excessive alcohol usage. They experience the problem and fail to overcome it. Therefore, it is important to limit alcohol intake if you wish to overcome erectile dysfunction.

Stress and Anxiety

According to Hedon (2003), anxiety and stress cause  ED. For instance, mental health conditions in war veterans, such as PTSD (Post-traumatic stress disorder), increase the chance of sexual dysfunction.


Obesity blocks the blood vessels supplying blood to the penis and strains the joints and heart. It also causes a reduction in testosterone levels, making a man limp.


Tobacco smoke contains tar and chemicals that harm the lining of blood vessels, reducing blood flow to the penis, and preventing it from engorging with blood.

Insufficient Exercise

Men grow inactive as they age. Some have an inactive lifestyle, harmful to their sex life. This may lead to erectile dysfunction. 

Drugs and Medications

Addiction to heroin and cocaine may cause ED. However, these concerns are not limited to narcotics. Prescription drugs, such as beta-blockers may also make it difficult for a guy to have an erection.


Buchacz et al. (2003) stated that HIV lowers testosterone levels. Erection problems in HIV+ males are caused by mental, physical, psychological, and physical factors. They may be concerned about the condition and the possibility of passing it on to their children.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Swollen joints are a symptom of rheumatoid arthritis. This condition limits mobility and causes pain. Rheumatoid arthritis also impairs the blood arteries in the penis, leading to erectile dysfunction.

Sleep Disorders

Sleep apnea (a chronic disorder)  causes complications when people lack sleep. It lowers testosterone levels and affects the amount of oxygen in the bloodstream. An oxygen supply is required for a healthy erection. Therefore, sleep apnea affects a man's sex life.

Peyronie’s Disease

Peyronie’s Disease affects the penis and causes it to bend when erect. Scar tissue develops in the blood veins of the penis, causing the curvature.


Erectile dysfunction affects 35-75% of men living with diabetes, especially type 2 diabetes. It is caused by long-term blood sugar regulation causing damage to blood vessels and nerves. Kolodny et al. (1974) noted that diabetic men are more likely to acquire erectile dysfunction 10-15 years earlier than non-diabetic men.

High Cholesterol Levels

Cholesterol is divided into two. LDL (low-density lipoprotein) clogs arteries causing heart attacks. High cholesterol levels could compromise a man's ability to erect by limiting blood flow to the penis.

High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure affects the lining of the arteries. However, medication for the disease may cause ED. This is because several blood pressure treatments affect sexual function.

Low Testosterone

Low levels of testosterone cause ED. Maggio & Basaria (2009) also linked low testosterone levels to the risk of heart disease.


Depression causes instability of the mind, causing erection difficulties. 

Metabolic Syndrome

This condition causes erectile dysfunction, limiting one’s sex life. The condition is a grouping of heart disease and diabetes factors that become more potent. It raises the cardiovascular disease risk.

Surgical Procedures

Surgery impairs erections by removing or injuring the nerves aiding erection. The nerves between the prostate and the rectum encircle the back and sides of the prostate gland and spread, making it easy to injure them during surgery.

Cancer Treatments

Chemotherapy medications like cisplatin, vincristine, paclitaxel, bortezomib and thalidomide cause nerve damage in the hands and feet (Peripheral neuropathy.) These medications are also linked to erectile dysfunction. 

Multiple Sclerosis

This disease is a common symptom of ED, affecting between 23% and 91%  of those infected. ED can arise when neurons connected with the erection response are affected, resulting in poor stimulation and arousal.

The Bottom Line

Most youths have no trouble getting an erection because it involves mental and physical elements. The process breaks down when these components are interrupted, resulting in erectile dysfunction. Seek medical advice if you suffer from the symptoms of ED. Before recommending any treatment, the medical expert should identify the cause of your erectile dysfunction.


Buchacz, K., Rogol, A. D., Lindsey, J. C., Wilson, C. M., Hughes, M. D., Oleske, J. M., & Team Rogers, A. S. (2003). Delayed Onset Of Pubertal Development In Children And Adolescents With Perinatally Acquired HIV Infection. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr, 33.

Kolodny, R. C., Kahn, C. B., Goldstein, H. H.,& Barnett, D. M. (1974). Sexual Dysfunction In Diabetic Men. Diabetes, 23(4), 306-309.

Hedon, F. (2003). Anxiety And ErectileDysfunction: A Global Approach To ED Enhances Results And Quality Of Life. International Journal Of Impotence Research, 15(2),

S16-S19.Maggio, M., & Basaria, S. (2009). Welcoming Low Testosterone As A Cardiovascular Risk Factor. International Journal Of Impotence Research, 21(4), 261-264.

Jekaterina Gussarova
Jekaterina Gussarova

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