Erectile Dysfunction (ED) Causes

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ED often has more than one cause, and can be a combination of physical, emotional and lifestyle issues.

Physical conditions

Many diseases can damage nerves, arteries and muscles, leading to ED. These include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Clogged arteries
  • Heart and blood vessel disease
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Treatments for prostate cancer, including radiation, surgery to remove the prostate and hormone treatments
  • Injury to the penis, spinal cord, prostate, bladder or pelvis
  • Surgery for bladder cancer
  • Peyronie’s disease, in which scar tissue forms in the penis

ED also can be a side effect of many common medicines. It can occasionally result from low testosterone, a male hormone.


Unhealthy lifestyle choices can lead to ED:

  • Smoking
  • Drinking alcohol excessively
  • Using illegal drugs
  • Being overweight
  • Not exercising 

Emotional factors

Mental health issues can cause or worsen ED:

  • Depression
  • Fear of sexual failure
  • Guilt
  • Low self-esteem
  • Stress
  • Worry