Causes of Erectile Dysfunction or ED

erectile dysfunction or EDErectile dysfunction, also known as ED or impotence, is the inability to achieve or sustain an erection on repeated occasions. Sometimes its symptoms include a decrease in the “hardness” of a man’s penis, or a shorter duration of sexual intercourse with their partner. It’s estimated that about two out of every one-hundred men in the United States have erectile dysfunction serious enough to warrant a doctor's visit, according to the U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disorders. As men age, the chances of struggling with ED dramatically increase. Approximately 30 million American men suffer from erectile dysfunction, but help may not require a pill. In fact, studies have proven that at least half (50 percent) of all men between the ages of 40 to 70 will experience ED. That’s one out of two!

What are the Causes of Erectile Dysfunction (ED) in Men?

Medical Conditions

The most common physical causes of erectile dysfunction are related to circulation and blood pressure issues in men. Serious medical conditions, such as heart disease and high blood pressure, could be the primary cause of erectile dysfunction (ED). Other medical conditions that could cause ED or may exacerbate a patient’s issues include diabetes (contributes to ED by causing damage to your nerves and blood vessels), chronic kidney disease, multiple sclerosis, Peyronie’s disease and many conditions or diseases that impact and affect blood flow to a man’s penis. Atherosclerosis, the narrowing of blood vessels throughout parts of the body usually associated with high cholesterol levels, is believed to be the most common cause of erectile dysfunction and, more importantly perhaps, to be a major warning sign of a possible future heart attack or potential stroke.

Low levels of testosterone have also been directly linked to causing erectile dysfunction (ED) in men. This is discussed in greater detail on our blog post about Low T.


Certain medications such as antidepressants, antihistamines, or blood pressure medications could make it difficult for you to achieve or maintain an erection. While these drugs may be useful in the treatment of other physical conditions, they can also affect hormones, nerves, or blood circulation, which all can attribute to erectile dysfunction. If you think your ED may be caused or exacerbated by any of the medications that you may currently be taking for a totally different issue, it’s best to consult your physician before making any medication adjustments.

Some examples of medications known to cause ED include:

  • Beta-blockers – Coreg and Lopressor
  • Cancer chemotherapy medications
  • Central nervous system depressants – Xanax, Valium, & Codeine (which is found in various brand name pain killers and cough syrups)
  • Diuretics – Lasix and Aldactone
  • Selective Serotonin reuptake inhibitors – Prozac and Paxil
  • Synthetic hormones – Eligard

Emotional Distress, Anxiety, Depression or Stress

Depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, guilt, and fear of sexual failure, etc. may all lead to or become other contributing factors when it comes to ED and erectile dysfunction symptoms. These are usually temporary causes and may possibly be remedied through the use of sex therapy.

Physical Injury

While exercise is great for your health, be cautious of any physical activity that could injure your lower half or your spinal cord, as injuries to this area of the body could cause erectile dysfunction. This does not mean to stop exercising! Just to choose activities that could lead to possible injury to the lower parts of your torso, thereby lessening the possibilities of physical injuries that could exacerbate or cause erectile dysfunction possibilities.

Lifestyle Choices

Using nicotine products (Tobacco), drinking alcoholic beverages, and recreational drug use (such as the use of cocaine) can all damage a man's blood vessels and/or restrict their blood flow to the penis, causing erectile dysfunction (ED). By changing some of your lifestyle choices, you could actually help remedy or minimize your ED symptoms without the use of other treatments.

Questions about Erectile Dysfunction or ED? Contact Philadelphia Urology Associates for Answers!

At Philadelphia Urology Associates, Dr. Bruce Sloane is a nationally renowned specialist in Men's Health issues and Age Management Medicine. Throughout Philadelphia and the surrounding areas, patients seek his expertise to treat erectile dysfunction and other sexual performance issues. Using state-of-the-art equipment and having extensive specialized education and training, Dr. Sloane will find the individualized treatments and solutions that will work for you.

Additionally, Dr. Sloane is well experienced in GAINSWave™ therapy and is considered perhaps the leading authority in Philadelphia and the surrounding areas with extensive experience using the shock wave treatment for ED patients.

If you have any questions about the causes and treatments available for ED, we urge you to contact us now online or call us at (215) 563-1199 today to discuss how we can help you!