Causes of Erectile Dysfunction (cont.)
Stephen W Leslie, MD, FACS
Bradley Fields Schwartz, DO, FACS
Physical (Organic) Causes
In determining a physical (or organic) cause, your doctor will first rule out certain conditions, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart
and vascular disease, low male hormone level, prostate cancer, and diabetes, which are associated with erectile dysfunction. In addition to these conditions, certain systemic and respiratory diseases are known to result in erectile dysfunction:
Often, one can restore sexual health by treating a condition such as high blood pressure with diet and/or exercise
or by controlling diabetes or
other chronic diseases. Nutritional states, including malnutrition
and zinc deficiency, may be associated with erectile dysfunction and can also be treated with diet.
Almost any disease can affect erectile function by altering the nervous, vascular, or hormonal systems. Various diseases may produce changes in the smooth muscle tissue of the penis or influence
mood and behavior.
- Diseases that affect the nervous system and are commonly associated with erectile dysfunction include:
- Vascular diseases account for nearly half of all cases of erectile dysfunction in men older than 50 years.
- Vascular disease includes atherosclerosis (fatty deposits on the walls of the arteries, also called hardening of the arteries), a history of heart attacks, peripheral vascular disease (problems
with blood circulation), and high blood pressure.
- Prolonged tobacco use (smoking) is considered an important risk factor for erectile
dysfunction because it is associated with poor circulation and its impact on cavernosal function.
- Blood diseases, such as sickle cell anemia and leukemias, are also associated with erectile dysfunction.
- An imbalance in your hormones, such as testosterone, prolactin, or thyroid, can cause erectile dysfunction. The following hormonal (or endocrine) conditions are
commonly associated with erectile dysfunction:
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