Font Size
A
A
A

Causes of Erectile Dysfunction (cont.)

What Are Physical (Organic) Causes of Erectile Dysfunction (ED)?

Physical causes of impotence are thought to be more common than psychological causes. However, as stated before, they often coexist. The inability to achieve an adequate erection can cause psychologic troubles, which then make it even more difficult to achieve an erection the next time.

Erectile dysfunction related to medical/physical causes is often treatable but less commonly curable. In some cases of medication-induced erectile dysfunction, changes in medication may improve erections. Similarly, in men with a history of arterial trauma, surgical intervention can restore erectile dysfunction. In most cases of ED associated with a medical condition, treatment allows one to have an erection "on demand" or with the aid of medications/device (but not spontaneous).

In the evaluation of physical causes of ED, the health care provider is assessing for conditions that may affect the nerves, arteries, veins, and functional anatomy of the penis (for example, the tunica albuginea, the tissue surround the corpora). In determining a physical (or organic) cause, your health care provider will first rule out certain medical 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. Medical/surgical treatment of these conditions may also cause ED. In addition to these health conditions, certain systemic digestive (gastrointestinal) and respiratory diseases are known to result in erectile dysfunction:

Fully restoring sexual health with treatment of a medical condition (such as high blood pressure with diet and/or exercise or by controlling diabetes or other chronic diseases) may not be possible. Identification and treatment of these conditions may prevent the progression of ED and affect the success of various ED therapies. Nutritional states, including malnutrition and zinc deficiency, may be associated with erectile dysfunction, and dietary changes may prove a sufficient treatment. Masturbation and excessive masturbation are not felt to cause ED, however, if one notes weak erections with masturbation, this may be a sign of ED. Some men who masturbate frequently may have troubles with achieving the same degree of stimulation from their partner, but this is not ED.

Almost any disease or condition can affect erectile function by altering the nervous, vascular, or hormonal systems.

Problems with the veins that drain the penis can also contribute to erectile dysfunction. If the veins are not adequately compressed, blood can drain out of the penis while blood is coming into the penis and this prevents a fully rigid erection and maintaining an erection. Venous problems can occur as a result of conditions that affect the tissue that the veins are compressed against, the tunica albuginea. Such conditions include Peyronie's disease (a condition of the penis associated with scarring [plaques] in the tunica albuginea that may be associated with penile curvature, pain with erections, and ED), older age, diabetes mellitus, and penile trauma (penile fracture).

  • 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:
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/5/2017
Medical Author:

Must Read Articles Related to Causes of Erectile Dysfunction

Diagnosing Erectile Dysfunction
Diagnosing Erectile Dysfunction Male sexual problems are often difficult to diagnose because many are reluctant to discuss them. Testing involves physical examination and lab testing to determ...learn more >>
Erectile Dysfunction (Impotence)
Impotence/Erectile Dysfunction Erectile dysfunction (ED) or male impotence is defined as the inability of a man to achieve and maintain an erection sufficient for mutually satisfactory interc...learn more >>

Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Causes of Erectile Dysfunction:

Erectile Dysfunction - Causes

Please describe the cause of your ED.


Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Erectile Dysfuncton »

Sexual health and function are important determinants of quality of life.

Read More on Medscape Reference »


Medical Dictionary