doctor consults with man

5 Potential Causes of Erectile Dysfunction

October 7, 2023

Erectile dysfunction can be embarrassing for many men. This type of penile disorder impacts the ability to achieve or maintain an erection sufficient for sex. Since it can make men feel uncomfortable, it oftentimes isn't discussed enough. Because of this, it’s often unclear what causes ED. It’s estimated that roughly 30 million men in the United States are affected by erectile dysfunction, making it a common condition, particularly for those who are older. Here are 5 potential causes of erectile dysfunction:

1. Depression & Anxiety

depressed man

Depression and anxiety are 2 of the most well-known causes of erectile dysfunction, according to research. Depression can increase the risk of erectile dysfunction while having ED increases the risk of depression, based on research in the Journal of Urology. This starts a repetitive cycle that can be difficult to get out of for many men. When you’re feeling down, it can be difficult to get in the mood required for sex. Some antidepressant medications can cause ED.

2. Diabetes

Having diabetes, or high blood sugar, can cause erectile dysfunction. In fact, ED is common in men with diabetes. A scientific review in Diabetes Care, discovered that 58% of men with diabetes reported frequent or occasional ED. Diabetes is one of many health issues — along with hardened arteries and heart disease — that can reduce blood flow to the penis, making it more difficult to achieve an erection. Diabetes can lead to small vessel disease or nerve damage to the penis.

3. Hormonal Abnormalities

doctor examines man with thyroid concern

Erectile dysfunction can be caused by a variety of factors related to the endocrine system. Hormonal abnormalities, such as elevated levels of prolactin (a hormone created by the anterior pituitary gland), too much or too little thyroid hormone, abuse of muscle-building steroids and hormones used for prostate cancer can all cause ED. Having low testosterone can contribute to ED, but rarely is it the sole cause as other underlying causes normally exist.

4. Neurological Issues

Several different neurological issues can cause erectile dysfunction. Nerve problems can keep signals from traveling from the brain to the penis, which is a required process to attain an erection. Nerves are responsible for releasing chemicals that stimulate blood flow to the penis during sexual arousal. This blood flow can be limited when nerves have been damaged. Nerve-related causes of erectile dysfunction include diabetes, multiple sclerosis, heavy metal poisoning, injuries to the nerves or spinal cord and nerve damage from pelvic operations.

5. Certain Drugs


Prescription drugs, used to treat many different health conditions, are another one of the potential causes of erectile dysfunction. Certain antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, blood pressure medicines, Parkinson’s disease prescriptions and glaucoma eye drops could be potential causes while over-the-counter medicines like antihistamines and diuretics could also be to blame. Cancer chemotherapy agents and prostate cancer drugs are also known to cause ED.

These causes of erectile dysfunction are more common than you may think and nothing to be embarrassed about. Waters Wellness specializes in the treatment of ED, offering solutions tailored to your lifestyle and preferences! Schedule a consultation with us today to learn more about your options!