Causes — Erectile dysfunction (ED) is the term used to describe men who cannot acquire or maintain an erection.
Limited blood flow — Anything that limits blood flow to the penis can cause ED. The most common conditions that limit blood flow include cigarette smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and normal aging. In addition, many commonly prescribed medications, such as can interfere with male sexual function.
Reduced blood flow in the penile arteries can happen before decreased blood flow to other vital organs, such as the heart, begins. Therefore, men with ED should be evaluated for any other cardiovascular risk factors. Studies have demonstrated that ED could be the first sign of developing a heart attack in the future.
In fact, one study found that of those men who develop new-onset ED, 15 percent will have a cardiovascular event within the next seven years.
Neurological causes — ED can be caused by a stroke, diseases such as diabetes, spinal cord injury, or prostate surgery that damage nerves to the penis.
Drugs — A large number of drugs that affect the nervous system and some that lower testosterone levels or inhibit testosterone action can cause ED.
Psychologic causes — Depression, performance anxiety, and lack of focus are common causes of psychogenic ED.