There are many processes that need to happen in your body to successfully have an erection. All of these parts need to be working properly and if even one isn’t quite right it can lead to impotence. This is why there are several possible causes of ED and you could be affected by more than one.

When your body is in normal working order, this is how the process of becoming sexually aroused usually unfolds:

  • Your senses send messages via your nerves to your brain about what you see, smell, hear and feel.
  • Your brain interprets these messages and responds by sending hormonal messages to various parts in your body.
  • The hormone changes cause the muscles around the blood vessels in your groin region to relax, allowing more blood to pass through.
  • This extra blood flow enables the penis to become erect and for you to engage in sexual activities.

As you can see, it is quite a complicated process that involves nerves, the brain, hormones, blood flow and the penis. Therefore, it makes sense that a problem with any of these areas could result in ED.

Cardiovascular Disease

This is the most common factor that can lead to sexual dysfunction in males. The blood flow to the penis is the final and possibly most important step to having an erection, so it makes sense that if the blood system is not quite normal it could have a large impact.

Blood pressure is an important aspect of cardiovascular disease that is strongly linked to impotence. Men with high blood pressure are more likely to suffer from ED, which is due to the importance of the blood flow to the penis needed for an erection to occur.

Atherosclerosis, a condition involving fatty deposits that block blood vessels, may also cause problems for men to get an erection. This is because it limits the amount of blood able to get through the blood vessels and, therefore, decreases the blood flow to the penis.

Psychological Causes 

There are several psychological states that are closely linked to ED; the most common of these are stress, anxiety and fatigue. Each may cause occasional problems for men in getting an erect penis but when they continue over a longer period of time can cause ongoing problems.

For men who are likely to have a psychological cause of ED, it is strongly recommended to seek treatment early. Continued problems with sexual performance can increase self-pressure, which will only worsen any stress or anxiety they may have had initially. On the other hand, treatment can help men to increase confidence in the bedroom and they may, in fact, be able to cease treatment entirely after the psychological causes of the condition have subsided.


Approximately half of all men with diabetes will experience problems of erectile dysfunction over their lifetime. They are more likely to develop problems with their cardiovascular system and the nerves that work throughout the body, due to the excess glucose in their body.

Both blood flow and the nerves are very important in the process of getting a penis erect and can, therefore, affect the process of having an erection and possibly cause ED.

Thyroid Disorders

The activity of the thyroid gland can have a noticeable effect for men and cause symptoms of ED. Over or under activity changes the levels of particular hormones in the body, which are important for normal sexual function.

Testosterone and prolactin hormone imbalances in the body can cause impotence in men, as the hormonal messages needed for an erection to occur do not function as normal.

Nervous System Disorders

As the nerves play an important role in delivering sensory messages of sexual excitement to the brain and then the responses to react, damage to the nervous system may cause ED.

Parkinson’s Disease in a nervous disorder that involves damage to nerves within the body and can lead to various symptoms, such as difficulty with normal movement, as well as trouble with getting an erection.

Substance Use

Heaving smoking or alcohol consumption is the most common cause of difficulty in maintaining an erection for once-off occasions. For men who form a habit of high alcohol consumption or heavy smoking, the problems can become ongoing and cause continual problems for men. This is also closely linked to psychological causes, as men begin to stress or become anxious about their poor sexual performance, which worsens the problems.

Where possible, it is best to treat the cause of erectile dysfunction before treating the symptoms of the condition. If you can identify likely causes for your symptoms of ED, addressing these first may improve your condition such that you do not need medication for ED.


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