Why Do You Have ED?

What’s Behind Your ED?

Your unreliable or missing erection is often an early warning sign alerting you and your doctor to underlying medical issues. Erection problems generally don’t just pop up in isolation. If you are unwell, your erection tends to suffer. Most causes of erectile dysfunction are symptomatic of bigger physical or psychological problems. Continue reading to find out what the common medical culprits may be.

heart disease is a cause of erectile dysfunction

Heart Disease

Factors that can cause trouble for your heart, including high blood pressure and high cholesterol, can also put your erection at risk. Conditions that affect your blood vessels can also impede blood flow to your penis. Sufficient blood flow is necessary for an acceptable erection. If enough blood can’t make its way to where is matters, you’ll have trouble getting an erection. The blood vessels that supply blood to your erectile tissue are some of the smallest in the body. Penile blood vessels are only one to two millimeters in diameter, half the size of your heart’s. Consequently, erectile problems can be an early indicator of heart disease. And studies have shown that vascular ED can precede heart problems by up to five years.

nerve function problems are a cause of erectile dysfunction

Nerve Function Problems

Erectile function may be compromised if the route that carries information from your brain and spinal cord to the rest of your body is damaged or compromised. Because the vessels that control the flow of blood to your penis may stop working properly. So, conditions that affect your nervous system could be a cause of erectile dysfunction. Examples include multiple sclerosis, spinal cord diseases and metabolic issues such as liver disease.

diabetes is a cause of erectile dysfunction


As we point out elsewhere, diabetes can harm your nerve function. This is called diabetic neuropathy. Howver, diabetes also increases the amount of sugar in your blood stream. Excess sugar can stick to the inside of your blood vessels. This can then cause corrosion and inflammation. In the long term, this damages your blood vessels’ ability to close or compress. This “venous leak” from the blood vessels in your penis makes it difficult to maintain a strong erection when aroused.

low testosterone is a cause of erectile dysfunction

Low Testosterone

Getting and maintaining an erection involves many chemicals. And, apart from being tied to sexual arousal, testosterone is involved in the production of many of the most important ones. For example, your body uses nitric oxide as a signaling molecule to helps dilate your arteries so blood can flow into your penis. Testosterone is needed for your body to make nitric oxide. Unfortunately, there has been no definitive study that has determined exactly how much testosterone is required for normal sexual function. Because of this you should never self-medicate with testosterone of dubious quality bought on the black market. Only a doctor can determine how much you need and prescribe from a controlled and licenced source.

depression is a cause of erectile dysfunction


There are concrete links between clinical depression and erectile dysfunction. However, the way the conditions are related is still up for debate. As the erection process starts in your brain the link may be the reduced arousal and libido that comes with depression. However, many of the most popular medications prescribed treat depression, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI’s), are reported to cause ED as a side-effect. For instance, SSRI’s can lower your sex drive and disrupt the brain chemicals that trigger your erection.

smoking is a cause of erectile dysfunction


Light up and getting it up may be mutually exclusive. A Chinese meta-study (study of studies) has determined that men who smoke are 51 percent more likely to experience erectile dysfunction. Stopping smoking is vital for a healthy erection. However, even if you quit years ago, you”re still at a higher risk of ED. Ex-smokers are 20 percent more likely to have erectile dysfunction than those who have never smoked. It’s well established that cigarette smoking damages blood vessels. And anything that can impeding blood flow can impede your erection. In addition, those who smoke are generally more likely to suffer from high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes, which also impact penile health.

Why Your Lifestyle Matters

So, we shown you some of the prime culprits causing ED. Hopefully you’ll appreciate that your lifestyle can plays a major role in determining your risk of suffering from ED and the chances of successful treatment.

How much does each lifestyle factor play a role in ED? *


Smokers have a 55 percent increased risk of erectile dysfunction compared to men who have never smoked.

Extra Weight

Overweight men with a BMI of 25-30 are 18 percent more likely to develop ED compared to men of a normal weight (a BMI between 18.5 and 24.9). Obese men with a BMI of between 30 and 34.9 are even more at risk of ED. In fact, obese men are 61 percent more likely to have ED than men of normal weight.

A Gut

Men with a waist circumference of 39 inches or more are 2.3 times at risk of developing ED than a men with with a waist measuring less than 35.5 inches.

High Blood Pressure

Men with hypertension (high blood pressure) are 29 percent more likely to develop ED than men with normal blood pressure.


Diabetic men are 2.4 times more at risk of developing ED than men with normal blood sugar levels.

Not Enough Exercise

Men who have sedentary lifestyles are 2.7 times more likely to develop ED than those who take regular exercise.

*Sources: BJU International, Journal of Sexual Medicine, Medical Journal of Australia.

How You Can Help Your Erection?

To help your erection you need to work on your lifestyle. Reduce your exposure to the major risk factors for ED. This can mean: quitting smoking; eating a healthy and balanced diet; and starting and sticking to an exercise program. This may sound boring and cliched. However, sexual health is intrically tied to overall health.

As inspiration, you should take the good news that studies have shown that much of the damage is reversible. For example:

  • a study reported in the Journal of Clinical Hypertension found that when men with high blood pressure and ED completed an 8-week interval training program, they experienced better quality erections than those who didn’t exercise.
  • a study from Iran reported that one year after quitting smoking, 25 percent of ex-smokers reported an improvement in their erections. Not one man who continued to smoke over the same period said their erections got any better.

Caution – Don’t Expect Miracles!

If you manage to lead a healthier life and get all of your bad habits under control it may not be enough to achieve a satisfactory level of penile performance. Underlying medical condtions or years of poor living may have already caused some permanent or semi-permanent damage to your erectile function. However, although this process is diffiult to reverse it may not be impossible to reverse. In any case taking steps to boost the health of your heart and other lifestyle modificaitons are necessary in preventing your ED from getting any worse as time goes on.