Erectile dysfunction is more common than many people think. The dysfunction occurs when a man cannot get or keep an erection firm enough during sexual intercourse.

Sexual health matters are often not openly discussed, making it embarrassing to talk about the disorder or seek treatment. Statistics around the world estimate that a third of the male population is affected by this dysfunction. Even though the risk of erectile dysfunction increases with age, it can affect men of any age.

Physical/medical conditions that could lead to erectile dysfunction include:

Cardiovascular diseases

These are heart diseases such as vascular disease, heart valve disease, pericardial disease, stroke, and hypertension/high blood pressure. The medication used to treat these diseases make an individual more susceptible to erectile dysfunction. In short, it’s a possible side effect of these drugs as some of the medicines could decrease blood flow to the penis.

Diabetes

According to a 2017 study, individuals with type 2 diabetes are 3.5 times more likely to experience erectile dysfunction than the general population. Their nerves and blood vessels are damaged from poor long-term blood sugar control. High levels of nitric oxide act as local transmitters leading to the relaxation of muscles in the penis, allowing for an erection. Poor long-term blood sugar control reduces the levels of nitric oxide. Therefore, low levels of nitric oxide equates to an increased risk of this sexual dysfunction.

Obesity

Obesity has become much more prevalent over the years with our increasingly sedentary lifestyles and diets high in sugar and fat. Fat cells metabolize testosterone to estrogen, which can leave the body with low levels of testosterone, making it difficult to achieve an erection.

Obesity can also damage blood vessels. High cholesterol leads to fatty deposits in the blood vessels, leading to them getting clogged and narrowing. This can lead to high blood pressure, which makes achieving or maintaining an erection more difficult, according to a 2008 study.

Drugs and Substance use

Amphetamines and cocaine cause blood vessels to become narrower and reduce blood flow pressure, while barbiturates, nicotine, and heroin decrease interest in sex. Marijuana increases libido but prevents smooth muscles in the penis from relaxing to allow blood flow and achieve an erection.

Some prescribed drugs also have the side effect of erectile disorder or decreased libido.

Psychological conditions that could result in erectile dysfunction are:

Anxiety

Performance anxiety is more common when you are not confident that you will perform during sexual intercourse. The anxiety makes it difficult to achieve or maintain an erection. Performance anxiety could also stem from having low-self esteem.

Depression

When someone is in an extremely low mood, the desire to have sex is non-existent. They could try and have sex, but the lack of interest leads to being unable to get an erection.

Stress

A stressful situation has so many things running through an individual’s mind. One is left feeling nervous, angry, or frustrated. The environment is not suitable to be interested in sexual intercourse or get an erection even from direct stimulation.

Deep-rooted relationship issues

Communication is essential in any relationship. It ensures every issue is addressed, and each partner has their needs met. Poor communication contributes to a problematic relationship. Such a relationship has one not as interested in sexual activities as expected.

Pornography addiction

Although further research is required, it is believed that frequent use of pornography has adverse effects in sexual development and sexual functioning. Unfortunately, pornography is hugely addictive and can lead to unrealistic expectations. Once addicted, it is difficult getting an erection without viewing such content.

Guilt

The guilt of being unable to satisfy your partner once could be the reason why the sexual disorder persists. The guilt remains in the individual’s mind leaving them anxious, with low-self esteem and stress.

In conclusion, erectile dysfunction can often be cured once the cause is identified. Most cases of the disorder are due to psychological reasons. It might just be in your mind. Openness to receiving treatment is the best cure.

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