Problems with erection – what causes erectile dysfunction?

Added: 21-03-2019 | Update: 10-02-2021
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There is no single cause of problems with erection. Erectile dysfunction (ED) may affect men at many stages of their life and be associated with different circumstances. Sometimes, potency problems stem from overwork, conflicts in the relationship, or they may signal the onset of some serious diseases developing in the body. Therefore, you should never ignore even the first failures in the bedroom.

Problems with erection affect more and more men. Stress, lifestyle diseases, and an unhealthy lifestyle may cause the troubles with satisfactory sexual life to occur even before the age of 40.

In older men, erectile dysfunction is often the first signal of systemic diseases. But problems with erection are not irreversible, that is why the patient should consult a doctor as soon as possible to diagnose the source of erectile dysfunction and choose the appropriate therapy.

Meanwhile, as little as 5% of patients with potency disorders undergo treatment. The consequences of the phenomenon include: the lack of desire for sex, avoiding sexual encounters with the partner, or ineffective attempts at waiting out until the problems are gone. Denial just makes the physical condition and mental health of a man worse, which may lead to a relationship breakdown.

However, before we start to look for the ED causes, we should learn the mechanisms that govern an erection. Erection is a physiological reaction. It starts when nitric oxide joins biomechanical reactions of the body. As a result, the smooth muscles of the penis become relaxed and the cavernous bodies of the penis fill up with blood. In order to maintain erection, it is necessary to block the veins located underneath the skin of the penis. In order to achieve erection, apart from the biological and chemical mechanism, some erotic stimulus is necessary.

Read more: Natural aphrodisiacs for men

Erectile dysfunction – causes

There can be many different causes of erectile dysfunction. Studies show that most problems with potency in young males are psychogenic. In mature men, on the other hands, the problems are rather purely physiological. The most common causes of erectile dysfunction include:

  • bad diet and lack of exercise (if you want to take care of your blood vessels, you need to restrict fatty foods and eat more fruit and vegetables instead, as well as avoid alcohol in large amounts),
  • smoking (even one pack of cigarettes a day may raise the risk of potency problems by 75%. Toxic substances contained in cigarettes attack the reproductive system, limiting the amount of sperm produced and reducing the volume of blood vessels at the same time),
  • using steroids (steroid drugs are prescribed by doctors in cases of hormone deficiency. Using them without any supervision may lead to the retardation of the “hypothalamus–pituitary gland–adrenal glands–testicles” scheme, reducing the production of testosterone at the same time. This may easily end in problems with erection),
  • stress and exhaustion (spending dozen or so hours at work requiring constant focus and concentration may effectively reduce your desire for intimacy with your partner in the evening. Physical and mental exhaustion occurs, which may lead not only to erectile dysfunction, but also depression),
  • cardiac problems (erection is closely related to the condition of your heart.  If atherosclerotic plaque develops in your blood vessels, the diameter of the vessels becomes reduced, which leaves less room for the blood. Potency problems are the natural consequence of such a condition). 

Read more: Vitamins for men – which ones to improve fertility?

Erectile dysfunction in young men

Problems with erection affect young males more rarely than the older ones and out of different reasons. Low testosterone is not an issue here, but the cause lies mostly in the mental condition as well as nervous system and hormonal disorders. Stress at work, chronic mental exhaustion, pressure exerted by a superior, conflicts in the relationship, or a loss of a close person may constitute a considerable burden on a young man. Sometimes problems with erection are caused by: depression, neuroses, and dependence on alcohol or other narcotics.

Read more: Viagra – how and how long does potency drugs work?

Erectile dysfunction after the age of 40

On the other hand, when the patient is 40 or over, erectile dysfunction is most frequently caused by the natural aging of the body and a lower level of testosterone and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA). Inevitable changes, however, develop much faster if a man does not take care of his health, prefers a sedentary lifestyle and an unhealthy diet.

At this age, sexual life is heavily influenced by systemic diseases and medications taken (e.g. epilepsy drugs, arrhythmia drugs, neuroleptics, antiemetics, medications for incontinence). Problems with erection at the age of 40 are very common in patients suffering from:

  • diabetes,
  • arterial hypertension,
  • nervous system diseases,
  • reproductive system diseases,
  • endocrinological disorders,
  • renal insufficiency and other urinary system diseases,
  • depression and neuroses.

Read more: Problems with erection at a young age – what to do?

Erectile dysfunction treatment

The first step to improve male sexual performance is changing an unhealthy lifestyle. You need to give up smoking, drink less alcohol, start regular physical exercise, and ensure that your diet includes a lot of vegetables and fruit and, at the same time, is free from the so-called empty calories.

At the beginning, the therapy may be supported by over-the-counter drugs containing DHEA (a hormone that transforms into testosterone in the body). Over-the-counter potency drugs may also contain l-arginine (it facilitates the production of nitric oxide, which positively affects the musculature of the blood vessels and improves the oxidation of tissues).

ED drugs are phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors and include the following:

  • sildenafil (Viagra)
  • wardenafil
  • avanafil
  • tadalafil

Unfortunately, these drugs have numerous side effects, which makes their use impossible for some patients.

If drugs are not enough to solve the problems with erection, you can resort to mechanical methods, e.g. a penis pump. It is a vacuum device that allows the inflow and retention of blood in the penis during a sexual intercourse. Another solution are penile prostheses implanted during a surgical procedure.

To sum up – problems with erection affect a considerable number of men. The basic step to solving the problem is the willingness to take up treatment with the support of the partner. Small changes in everyday habits and an honest conversation with a psychologist often turn out to be helpful and improve the sexual condition. 

Read more: Potency pills – what drugs and preparations improve erection

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