Men's Health | Bon Secours

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erectile dysfunction

Having erection trouble from time to time isn’t necessarily a cause for concern. However, if you continually struggle with ED, the problem may be more complicated than just low T. ED can be a sign of an underlying health condition that needs treatment and a risk factor for heart disease down the road.

What are the causes of ED?

Various physical and psychological factors can contribute to erectile dysfunction, including:

  • Medical conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and particularly diabetes, heart conditions or clogged blood vessels
  • Tobacco use, which restricts blood flow to veins and arteries, and can cause chronic health conditions that lead to ED
  • Being overweight, especially if you’re obese
  • Certain medical treatments, such as prostate surgery, or radiation for cancer
  • Injuries, particularly if they damage the nerves or arteries that control erections, or affect the pelvic area or spinal cord
  • Medications, including antidepressants, antihistamines and medications to treat high blood pressure, pain or prostate conditions
  • Psychological conditions, such as stress, anxiety, depression, or relationship conflicts
  • Drug and alcohol use, especially if you’re a long-term drug user or heavy drinker
  • Sleep disorders such as sleep apnea
  • Metabolic Syndrome, a condition involving increased blood pressure, high insulin levels, body fat around the waist and high cholesterol
  • Prolonged bicycling, which can compress nerves and affect blood flow to the penis, may lead to temporary or permanent erectile dysfunction

How can I prevent ED?

The best prevention is to make healthy lifestyle choices and to manage any existing health conditions. For example:

  • Quit Smoking
  • Lose excess pounds
  • Increase daily physical activity
  • Take steps to reduce stress
  • Control you blood pressure and cholesterol
  • Get treatment for alcohol or drug problems
  • Work through relationship issues
  • Get help for anxiety, depression or other mental health concerns
  • See your doctor for regular checkups and medical screening tests

If you’re concerned about erectile dysfunction, talk to your doctor, even if you’re embarrassed. Sometimes, treating an underlying condition is enough to reverse erectile dysfunction. In other cases, medications or other direct treatments might be needed.