As men start to notice the signs of possible erectile dysfunction, they may naturally start to wonder what is causing this condition, and whether or not it can be treated and fixed. Erectile dysfunction can be a source of significant concern and embarrassment, and many men may struggle to understand the root causes of this condition—along with the steps they can take to seek out a solution.
Whether you’re already familiar with erectile dysfunction treatment options, or you’re simply seeking answers and help with addressing ED, there’s good news: in the vast majority of cases, erectile dysfunction is highly treatable for men at any age.
Read on for an overview of causes and symptoms of ED, as well as information about how to seek out treatment for this condition.
Common Symptoms of Erectile Dysfunction in Men
For most men, the symptoms of erectile dysfunction are easy to identify—even if they’re difficult to acknowledge or discuss, even with a medical professional. These symptoms include:
- Difficulty getting an erection. In some cases, obstructed blood flow or other causes may make it difficult or impossible for men to develop an erection.
- Difficulty keeping an erection. While many men assume that erectile dysfunction only applies to cases where an erection is not possible, ED also includes cases where men are able to produce an erection, but are unable to sustain that erection for the amount of time required to have sexual intercourse.
- A reduced sex drive. While a declining sex drive may be the product of the same cause of your erectile dysfunction, it’s possible that the experience of ED itself—particularly if it has taken place multiple times—can frustrate and embarrass men, and decrease their desire to have sex due to the struggles associated with this condition.
Possible Causes of Erectile Dysfunction
Erectile dysfunction can have many different causes. It’s also common for individuals suffering from ED to experience multiple potential causes or risk factors for ED, all of which need to be accounted for in a treatment plan for this condition.
Common causes for ED include:
- Obstructed or restricted blood flow into the penis. Reduced blood flow can occur for a wide range of reasons, such as cardiovascular conditions, diabetes, and smoking. Restricted blood flow typically refers to physical impediments that keep the body from producing an erection even when the man is aroused.
- Prostate cancer or other conditions affecting the pelvic area. Certain types of cancers and cancer treatments can serve as an impediment to producing an erection. Some of these treatments, including those for prostate or bladder cancer, can also cause damage—in many cases temporary—that cause or exacerbate erectile dysfunction.
- Drug use. Antidepressants, blood pressure medications and other prescription medications can all create complications that lead to ED.
- Depression or anxiety. Emotional problems can be a prime source of erectile dysfunction, or they can be a contributing factor that makes ED worse.
- Stress. High levels of stress can affect your physical health, including cardiovascular health and your sex drive. Whether stress comes from work, your personal life or other sources, too much stress can cause acute cases of ED to occur.
- Performance anxiety. If you have relationship difficulties with your sexual partner, and/or are concerned about your performance or failure to produce an erection in the past, these anxieties can make future cases of ED more likely to occur.
Is There a Connection Between Erectile Dysfunction and Age?
It is a common misconception that erectile dysfunction can be caused by advancing age. While certain risk factors, such as cardiovascular health and prostate health, may be more likely to develop later in life, erectile dysfunction itself is not a consequence of aging.
Men should be able to produce an erection at any age, and the inability to produce an erection should be treated as erectile dysfunction regardless of the age of the patient. Whether you’re 25 or 85, you are a strong candidate for erectile dysfunction treatment.
Is There an Erectile Dysfunction Test?
While there’s no single test to prove whether you have ED, most clinicians will give you a physical exam to evaluate your ED, and they may ask you questions to better understand how erectile dysfunction is occurring and affecting your daily life.
Diagnostic tools may include an ultrasound device, which will help the clinician evaluate the blood flow into your penis, and potentially identify structural issues affecting the functioning of your sex organs. After this evaluation, a medical provider will be able to say with certainty whether you have ED. At that point, if you are identified as suffering from erectile dysfunction, you will become a candidate for treatment and can begin the process of developing a treatment plan to address this condition.
If you’re suffering from erectile dysfunction, you don’t have to suffer alone. No matter your age or your health history, erectile dysfunction treatments can offer life-changing medical care that restores your erections and your overall sexual health.