Erectile dysfunction causes are most often physical in nature. Over seventy percent of all cases of erectile dysfunction are physical. Surgery, hypercholesterolemia, diabetes, hypertension and a wide range of other diseases can cause it. Risk factors are cumulative: a man who has had prostate surgery and suffers from hypertension is at greater risk of erectile dysfunction than he would be if he only experienced one of the conditions.
Age and Erectile Dysfunction
Age has long been associated with sexual problems, and many men think that erectile dysfunction is simply a natural part of growing older. While the risk of impotence does increase with age, there’s no reason you can’t enjoy a healthy sex life well into old age. Risk factors that can cause impotence increase as we age, but you shouldn’t assume that you’re “just getting old” if you experience erection problems. Treating the underlying cause can help you regain your sexual health.
Trauma, Surgery and the Prostate
The process of developing and maintaining an erection is a complex interplay of nerve impulses and blood flow. Damage to the nerve endings, muscles and arteries of the penis can disrupt the process. Prostate surgery or any surgery in the pelvic area may cause damage that leads to erectile dysfunction. Spinal cord injuries can also disrupt nerve impulses.
Neurological Erectile Dysfunction Causes
In addition to surgery and trauma, certain neurological disorders can affect nerves associated with erections. Multiple sclerosis and strokes, for instance, may cause nerve damage, as can chronic alcoholism. Diabetes can also damage nerves: between thirty to fifty percent of men with diabetes suffer some degree of erectile dysfunction.
Blood flow is another important factor: if the penis cannot trap and store blood, an erection is simply not possible. Vascular diseases, including hypertension and heart disease, can alter blood flow enough to cause erection problems. Diabetes presents a double threat: the disease affects both blood flow and the nervous system.
Hypercholesterolemia is a condition of increased blood cholesterol, which greatly increases the chances of heart disease at an early age. The condition also increases the risk of erectile dysfunction. The excess cholesterol associated with hypercholesterolemia causes hardening of the arteries, which in turn affects blood flow.
Many men have a slight curve to their erect penis. Men suffering from Peyronie’s disease develop a severe curve in the penis, which can make intercourse painful, or even impossible. The condition occurs when fibrous tissue or scar tissue builds up in the penis. Exactly how this tissue forms in unclear, although trauma of some sort is likely to blame. Peyronie’s disease occasionally causes erectile dysfunction, as the tissue interferes with the penis’ ability to retain blood. Surgical correction of Peyronie’s disease can cause damage to the penis, which can also lead to impotence.