Erectile Dysfunction Causes: Physical and Psychological


Sexual potency is perhaps the most vulnerable function in males – even the slightest health condition like rhinitis can slow it down either for a while or quite a long time. And more or less serious diseases can wreck men’s sex life completely by transforming temporary sexual frustration into a chronic form of erectile dysfunction.

It is impossible to speculate on diseases causing ED without knowing the physiology of penile erection. The shaft stiffness is a physiological phenomenon under which a penis gets enlarged, engorged, and hard owing to a rapid blood flow to the corpora cavernosal (the spongy tissue inside a penis). Erectile dysfunction may develop when the branches of parasympathetic nerves in a penis do not produce enough Nitrous oxide, which plays the key role in the blood vessels vasodilatation. This may be a result of an incoherent collaboration of neural, cardiovascular, endocrine, and psychological factors Consequently, if some of these factors aka systems do not work well, a man fails to achieve a good erection. Notably, erectile dysfunction is not a disease but always a symptom of some illness or impairment progressing in the body. So what diseases are blamed for a compromised sexual function in males?

Physical causes for Erectile Dysfunction

There exist four types of medical conditions under which the erectile dysfunction may originate from.

They are:

  • diseases impairing the normal blood circulation in a body – vasculogenic conditions;
  • ailments which negatively affect the brain nerves or spinal cord – neurogenic conditions;
  • illnesses influencing the hormonal balance – hormonal conditions;
  • health problems provoking the physical abnormalities of a phallus – anatomical conditions.

Below we will consider the most common physical reasons of ED.

The number one culprit for erectile issues is diabetes which badly affects nerves, blood vessels, and muscles. If uncontrolled, diabetes impairs an adequate blood flow and reduces the sensation in genital organs leading to erection difficulties in male patients. Under such a health condition, the body either does not release enough insulin or cannot use its own insulin in a way it should. This results in accumulations of sugars in the blood which in its turn increases the risk of the arteries narrowing.

The loss of sexual power may also stem from kidney disorders including acute kidney failure, renal infection, and nephritic syndrome. The matter is that the kidneys are a part of the endocrine system as they have the adrenal glands located at their tops. Renal disorders trigger the chemical imbalance in the body, in particular, they impair the production of testosterone which is directly associated with the ability to experience sexual desire and make sex. The kidney malfunction also leads to the fluid retention and hypertension both contributing to a poor blood circulation and weak erection.

The problems with a nervous system (multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer or Parkinson’s disease, spinal cord injury/surgery, stroke) are associated with erectile dysfunction as well. These diseases disrupt vital signals which the brain generates under sexual stimuli to initiate the blood inflow to the erectile tissue. Such a disruption can be caused by the inflammation of the nerve endings, a blood clot in a brain artery, severe head injury or the damage of pelvic organs or tissues.

Blood vessels conditions round up our list of the most common physical ED causes. Atherosclerosis (when the arteries lose their elasticity), high cholesterol, coronary heart disease, transient ischaemic attack, Peripheral arterial disease, aortic aneurysm – they all lead to the buildups of fatty deposits inside the vessels slowing down the healthy blood movement.

Psychological causes for Erectile Dysfunction

Though it sounds unbelievable, erectile dysfunction may have a psychological origin as well. The absence of erections during masturbation and nocturnal spontaneous erections helps to differentiate between physiological and psychological impotence (under the psychological one, a penis can get erect several times during a night).

Certain psychological states (depression, anxiety, stress, previous bad experience, fatigue, low self-esteem, phobias, post-traumatic stress disorder, a feeling of guilt, and the restless leg syndrome) can hamper men’s sexual function. This can be explained by the fact these conditions induce a chemical imbalance in the brain by inhibiting the production of some neurotransmitters like dopamine or serotonin. Such a deficiency of important organic chemicals leads to low energy, unstable mood, loss of interest in life, and lack of sexual drive.

The psychological reasons for ED often coexist with physical ones. Fortunately, the pharmaceutical market is full of effective ED drugs, which can address impotence of any etiology whether it is physiological, psychogenic or mixed.

Available treatments

The treatment of the sexual frustration in men was revolutionized with the appearance of PDE5 inhibitors – legal ED oral medications with proven efficacy and safety in different populations of male patients including those with spinal cord injuries and severe renal/hepatic disorders.

Sildenafil, Tadalafil, Avanafil, and Vardenafil are the top performers among all known pick-me-up drugs. The time of duration effectiveness, a minimum amount of adverse effects, contraindications and interactions, and nearly 100 % user satisfaction put these ED medicines ahead of the competition. The mode of their action is practically identical – they enhance the production of nitric oxide by blocking the activity of cGMP-specific phosphodiesterase type 5 – an enzyme which suppresses the release of nitric oxide in the corpus cavernosum. Nitric oxide is essential for the penile arteries dilation.

Men who do not want to be reliant on drugs when it comes to sexual performance may try other treatment options. For instance, they may benefit from the penile self-injection therapy, Alprostadil intraurethral therapy, vacuum devices (erectile pumps), testosterone replacement therapy, penile implants, hypnosis, and psychological counseling – they all are used as alternatives to conventional ED treatment.