Erectile dysfunction can be caused by any number of physical and psychological factors. In general, ED is divided into organic (having to do with a bodily organ or organ system) and psychogenic (mental) impotence, but most men with organic causes have a mental or psychological component as well.
Erection problems will usually produce a significant psychological and emotional reaction in most men. This is often described as a pattern of anxiety and stress that can further interfere with normal sexual function. This "performance anxiety" needs to be recognized and addressed by your doctor.
An occasional problem achieving an erection is nothing to worry about. But failure to do so more than half of the time at any age may indicate a condition that needs treatment. Are you at risk for erectile dysfunction (ED)? Take the following quiz and find out.
Are you overweight? Yes or No
Do you have any of the following conditions?
Atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries from plaque)
Almost any disease can affect erectile function by altering the nervous, vascular, or hormonal systems. Various diseases may produce changes in the smooth muscle tissue of the penis or influence mood and behavior.
Vascular diseases account for nearly half of all cases of ED in men older than 50 years. Vascular disease includes atherosclerosis (fatty deposits on the walls of arteries, also called hardening of the arteries), a history of heart attacks, peripheral vascular disease (problems with blood circulation), and high blood pressure. Prolonged tobacco use (smoking) is considered an important risk factor for ED because it is associated with poor circulation and reduced blood flow in the penis.
Trauma to the pelvic blood vessels and nerves is another potential factor in the development of ED. Bicycle riding for long periods has been implicated, so some of the newer bicycle seats have been designed to soften pressure on the perineum (the soft area between the anus and the scrotum).
Medications used to treat other medical disorders may cause ED.