Causes of erectile dysfunction and prevention tips

Erectile dysfunction is a topic most people do not like to discuss. Men with this medical condition hold back even with their doctors. 

Men’s self-esteem, confidence, and feelings of virility rely heavily on their erectile ability. A man who experiences erectile dysfunction often feels that he is no longer a man. 

This mindset can create feelings of frustration, loss of self-confidence, anger, humiliation, and shame. Most people with erectile dysfunction would prefer to buy performance-enhancing drugs than seek a medical solution. Knowing the underlying causes of erectile dysfunction is the first step in treating this medical condition.

What are the causes of erectile dysfunction? 

A lot of factors lead up to a healthy erection. Hormones, the nervous system, muscles, and the brain work together to maintain erections. When a problem interrupts any of these processes, erectile dysfunction happens. Erectile dysfunction occurs when blood doesn’t flow well to the male organ. This anomaly may be due to high blood sugar, an injury, smoking, and some medications.

Physical causes of erectile dysfunction

1. Diabetes

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Diabetes is one of the causes of erectile dysfunction. Erectile dysfunction may precede diabetes diagnosis. Although ED increases as patients age, diabetes is associated with this condition at a younger age.

2. Physical trauma

Trauma to the nerves in the penis from an accident, fall or pelvic fracture may cause erectile dysfunction. A disruption of blood flow in the penis can result from an injury. Such an injury can happen when there is a crash that slams the crotch against the crossbar of a bicycle.

3. Smoking

Smoking can damage blood vessels. Erectile dysfunction is caused by the poor arterial supply of blood to the male sex organ.

4. Medications


Studies show that certain medications cause erectile dysfunction. Some medications prescribed to manage high blood pressure, cancer and depression are known to cause ED.

5. Testosterone decline due to age

While this isn’t true for every man, loss of erection is one of the most salient impairments experienced by men in response to illness or ageing. Numerous changes occur as men age, and there may be a progressive decline in sexual function as the result of various physiological changes in the body. Testosterone is also lower in men who are obese.

6. High cholesterol

One of the adverse effects of high cholesterol in men is erectile dysfunction. High cholesterol means that the LDL levels are high and it increases the likelihood of developing erection problems. Severe cases could lead to impotence.

Psychological causes of erectile dysfunction

1. Depression

It’s hard to have and maintain an erection when you’re depressed. Sexual excitement starts in the brain before moving down. Depression can cause loss of desire and erectile dysfunction. A lot of drugs used to manage depression could also suppress sex drive and increase the difficulty of maintaining an erection.

2. Performance anxiety

The eagerness to please a partner can cause a man to feel nervous, which invariably affects his ability to maintain an erection.

Other psychological causes of erectile dysfunction include stress and relationship problems due to poor communication or other issues.

Now that you know some of the causes of erectile dysfunction, it’s crucial to take preventive measures.

ED can be prevented by taking active steps to ensure total well-being.

How to prevent erectile dysfunction

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1. Eat green vegetables

If you love your green veggies, you’re well on your way to beat erectile dysfunction. Some of us, however, may find this a bit of a challenge. Green vegetables are packed with vitamins and minerals.

If you can’t bring yourself to eat green vegetables, you could blend and drink them or purchase supplements.

2. Perform kegel exercises

Kegels are the most helpful in treating erectile dysfunction. These activities focus on the pelvic floor muscles especially the pubococcygeus. The well-being of the pelvic floor affects the nature of erections. Kegels can be done anywhere since it requires no assistance from your hands and legs.

Caution should be taken while performing Kegels. As with any other muscle, the pubococcygeus can get sore if overworked.

3. Lose excess weight

Losing weight along with other lifestyle changes can help to prevent and improve erectile dysfunction. Obese people who suffer from erectile dysfunction report improvements with weight loss.

4. Quit smoking

Smoking has been linked to the development of erectile dysfunction. The link shows that the risk is dose-dependent with frequent smokers having higher risks. Non-smokers who are exposed to cigarette fumes are also at risk of developing erectile dysfunction. 

5. Be physically active

Living a sedentary life has been linked to ED. Aerobic exercises such as running and swimming have been shown to help prevent erectile dysfunction. 

6. Wear proper exercise gear

Care should be taken during activities that put pressure on the perineum. People who ride bicycles should ensure that their seats fit properly, wear padded cycling gear and stand frequently while riding.

7. Get adequate sleep

Getting eight hours of sleep helps maintain hormonal balance in the bloodstream and normal levels of testosterone. Blood is also made available to the reproductive organs thereby preventing erectile dysfunction.

8. Eat healthy meals

Meals that include few or no fruits and vegetables along with lots of, fried, processed and fatty foods can contribute to decreased blood circulation throughout the body. This also means decreased blood flow to maintain an erection.

Foods like soy, white bread, processed carbohydrates, alcohol, processed meat, dairy, flavoured soda and canned soup should be eaten with caution. They are best taken with lots of fruits and vegetables.

9. Maintain a healthy weight


Men who are overweight are more prone to developing erectile dysfunction than men of healthy weight. Losing weight can help to prevent and reverse erectile dysfunction.

10. Limit alcohol intake

Alcohol abuse can cause erectile dysfunction; occasional use does not. Liver failure as a result of alcohol abuse may also affect erectile function.

11. Lower cholesterol levels

Medications can be taken to lower cholesterol levels but a few lifestyle changes can improve cholesterol. Trans fats, which raise LDL cholesterol, are often used in margarine and packaged cookies, crackers and cakes. 

Trans fats are sometimes listed on food labels as “partially hydrogenated vegetable oil”. Limiting the consumption of saturated fats can also lower (LDL) cholesterol.

A final note

Our bodies are closely connected to our minds. While the psychological factors mentioned above can lead to erectile dysfunction, a few instances of this condition might not be a cause for alarm.

Physical causes of erectile dysfunction are treatable with safe and effective oral medications. They restore erectile function and lead to a better quality of life for men with this erectile problem. 

Jude Uchella is a research writer and a strong advocate for health and fitness. He takes pleasure in helping people live their best life. When he's not writing, he's probably researching the next topic to write about. :)