Causes of Erectile Dysfunctions

The causes of erectile dysfunction can be classified into psychogenic and organic causes.

Psychogenic causes typically account for 10% of cases and organic causes constitute the rest.

Psychogenic causes are as a result of conscious or subconscious thoughts and the psychological state of the male patient. The majority of the causes are organic in nature and are caused by medical problems. The cause can frequently be multifactorial which means the cause can be a combination of various medical problems or medical and psychological problems.


    Depression can cause erectile dysfunction

  • Psychogenic
  • Psychogenic causes are usually present in younger males. If the cause is psychogenic the erectile dysfunction usually occurs intermittently, which means they don’t necessarily have erectile problems with every sexual encounter. To classify the problem as psychogenic the patient should have no risk factors for a medical disease which could be the cause of the sexual dysfunction. These patients are often able to achieve an erection using self-stimulation. Another notable difference is that in patients with a psychogenic cause of erectile dysfunction, nocturnal penile tumescence still occurs. This is more commonly known as night-time or morning erections. Some examples of conditions which can result in a psychogenic cause of erectile dysfunction are:

    • Anxiety
    • Chronic anxiety and stress whether it’s related to the sexual encounter or not can result in chronic inability to maintain or sustain an erection.

    • Depression
    • Depression and erectile dysfunction have a spiral effect on each other. Depression can cause erectile dysfunction and at the same time, erectile dysfunction can cause depression. Studies have shown that 35% to 47% of people who are clinically diagnosed with depression have some problem with their sex lives. Depression causes erectile dysfunction by causing an imbalance with chemicals in the brain known as neurotransmitters.

    • Relationship conflict
    • Deep seated issues like distrust, guilt and resentment caused by problems in a relationship can also result in erectile dysfunction. The dysfunctional relationship does not necessarily have to be the patient’s spouse. Emotional issues with another family member or friend could also be the cause of the problem.

  • Organic
  • Male patients with an organic cause of their erectile dysfunction are usually older (50 years old or older). They have a constant difficulty obtaining and maintaining an erection. The problem persists even with self-stimulation. They are unable to obtain or maintain an erection even during masturbation. Often risk factors for various medical diseases are present. There are many medical (or organic) conditions which can cause erectile dysfunction. Examples of organic causes of erectile dysfunction are the following:

    • Endocrine Causes
    • The endocrine system controls the body’s hormones. Achieving and maintaining an erection relies on the integration of many systems. The endocrine system is one of the systems that play an important role in this process. If this system is not functioning properly, it will affect a man’s sexual function and can result in erectile dysfunction. Examples of endocrine conditions causing erectile dysfunction are diabetes mellitus, hypogonadism, hyperprolactanemia and severe hypothyroidism. Up to 50% of male patients with diabetes suffer from erectile dysfunction.

    • Vascular Causes
    • When the cause of erectile dysfunction is vascular, blood flow to the penis is restricted. High cholesterol, hypertension (high blood pressure), peripheral vascular disease, obesity and coronary artery disease can all be associated with erectile dysfunction.

    • Nutritional Causes
    • A poor diet with insufficient nutrients and minerals can cause erectile dysfunction.

    • Penile Causes
    • An example of a penile cause of erectile dysfunction is Peyronie’s disease. This is when scar disease develops in the connective tissue of the penile shaft. This causes the penis to appear bent and often affects its erectile ability. Peyronie’s disease can be cause by chronic infection or trauma to the penis.

    • Neurogenic Causes
    • For an erection to occur normal neural pathways to and from the brain need to be present. Diseases which affect these pathways also cause erectile dysfunction. Diseases like multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and strokes can destroy nerve cells and affect neural pathways.

    • Respiratory Causes
    • It has been shown that patients’ with chronic respiratory diseases like COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) are much more likely to develop erectile dysfunction.

    • Infection
    • Various infections can cause erectile dysfunction. A severe infection affecting any organ or system can result in sexual dysfunction. Urinary tract infections and Infections of the prostate gland (prostatitis) are also known to cause erectile dysfunction.

    • Medication and Substances causing Erectile Dysfunction
    • prolonged_alcohol

      With prolonged alcohol use the sexual dysfunction could become permanent

      There are medications and substances which cause erectile dysfunction. The patient must make sure to tell his doctor about all the medications or drugs which he takes. Alcohol use is a common cause of temporary erectile dysfunction. With prolonged alcohol use the sexual dysfunction could become permanent. Many medications may cause impotency. These include anti-depressants, antihistamines, antihypertensive and anticholinergic medications.