ED, Erectile Dysfunction is the inability to get or maintain an erection leading to failure in performing penetrative sexual activities. Erectile Dysfunction, also called impotence, has been on the rise during the past decade owing to changes in lifestyle, food habits, and several other factors. Erectile Dysfunction can create a tremendous amount of stress on a man’s mind that can disturb his personal and professional life. The stress in turn adds to the erection problem, making it a cyclical problem.
Important thing to note is, as men age, the amount of testosterone levels go down gradually and this can be seen once a man crosses his 30s. This drop should be gradual and in normal healthy circumstances, a man will be able to have sex even after 60 years of age. (Frequency varies by weeks or even months). If you are under 40 and having trouble getting an erection or maintaining it, it’s time you see a good sexologist near you to get your problem addressed.
Causes of Erectile Dysfunction can be broadly classified into two types:
- Physical – where there is a physical injury to any part of the male reproductive system resulting in erection problems.
- Psychological – Mental issues such as stress that can be taking a toll on your overall life including sex life.
Physical causes of Erectile Dysfunction
- Heart and blood vessels related issues – Heart diseases, clogged or inflamed blood vessels, high cholesterol, high blood pressure etc can cause erection problems. In order to obtain an erection, a lot of blood needs to flow into the penis and fill the erectile muscles with blood. Only then there can be an erection. When less amount of blood flows into the penis, there may not be an erection or there can be a soft erection that might not be enough for penetrative sex. Important – In some people, erectile dysfunction can be considered as a precursor for heart problems. It is better to get your heart health checked up if you see a good doctor for your erection problems.
- Diabetes (high sugar levels in blood) – Increase of sugar levels in blood can damage small blood vessels and nerves. If the blood vessels in the penis are damaged due to diabetic condition, the ability to achieve an erection can go down.
- Obesity – As per a study, obesity in men can cause erectile dysfunction. Men with BMI over 25 kg/square metre were at 1.5 times more risk and men with over 30 kg/square metre were at 3 times greater risk. It was found that excessive amounts of fat tissue was the main cause of the problem.
- Metabolic syndrome – This is a combination of diseases such as presence of high insulin levels, higher waist fat and high cholesterol also lead to erection problems in men. When the body doesn’t recognize (or fail to use) the insulin present in the blood, it triggers for more production of insulin. This leads to higher insulin levels in the blood resulting in lower production of sperms and infertility. Higher insulin levels can also lead to weight gain.
- Parkinson’s disease – Medicines used to treat Parkinson’s disease can cause anxiety, decrease sex drive, affect penile erection and the ability to orgasm.
- Smoking tobacco – Men who smoked more than 20 cigarettes a day were at 60% higher risk of erectile dysfunction than those who never smoked. Men who used to smoke but currently don’t smoke were also at higher risk of erectile dysfunction as per the news article published on webmd.com
- Consumption of alcohol – Consumption of alcohol can reduce the production of testosterone. Alcohol also interferes with brain functioning. Proper brain signal is necessary for the blood to fill the penis to get an erection. When these signals are interrupted by alcohol, getting an erection might become difficult.
- Sleep disorders – Problems sleeping or not sleeping at the right times doesn’t give enough rest required by the body and brain. This can reduce the libido and also production of testosterone in the body leading to erectile dysfunction.
- Enlarged prostate – Prostate is a very important organ in male reproduction system. Testicles produce the sperms and prostate produces the supporting liquids that are necessary for survival of sperms when ejaculating and travelling in a woman’s body. Men suffering from enlarged prostate (BPH) are found to have problems with getting erections and ejaculation.
- Low testosterone levels – This is a very broad term. Lower testosterone levels can be a result of various conditions such as ageing, nutrition deficiency in food, lack of vitamin D, lifestyle habits, smoking, drinking alcohol, abusing drugs, hormonal imbalance such as hypothyroidism, medication taken to treat other conditions etc. Irrespective of the cause, low testosterone levels can lead to lowered frequency of erections, loss of muscle, fatigue, hair loss, weight gain etc.
Psychological causes of erectile dysfunction
The list of psychological problems affecting erection in a man are limited; we have only one brain! The entire act of attraction, sex and orgasm is due to the combination of response from brain and the body. Brain plays the first and important role in triggering proper signals to which the body and its organs respond.
When a man is psychologically affected due to stress, depression, anxiety, fear or other kinds of emotions, the brain fails to send the right signals at the right time leading to loss of interest in sex, no erections and no orgasms. Stress is a monster! It can cause hundreds of symptoms and you will start having every symptom that you can google or think of. If you don’t have any physical condition that is affecting your love life, you need to see a therapist to evaluate your mental stress levels. Failing to address psychological problems can affect your relationship and other aspects of your life.