Erectile Dysfunction: Symptoms, Causes & Treatments For Men

Erectile Dysfunction: Symptoms, Causes & Treatments For Men
Published : Oct 14, 2023
Last Updated : Mar 13, 2024

What is Erectile dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction is a sexual problem that makes it hard for a man to get or keep an erection enough for sex. Having trouble with your erection occasionally can be expected, and one must not worry about it. But if Erectile dysfunction is an ongoing issue and interrupts you every time you have sexual intercourse, then you must see a doctor.

ED, with time, may also contribute to other problems in a male's life. It may cause stress, affect self-confidence, and contribute to relationship conflicts. If you are having a problem with your erection it c, it can also be a sign of an underlying health issue. It is essential to look at your health and take the treatment as soon as possible. Most men dealing with heart disease are commonly seen to have symptoms of ED or impotence.

Sometimes, treating an underlying health issue can prevent and treat ED symptoms. And in other cases, using medications and other treatments may fix erectile function.

Symptoms of Erectile Dysfunction

A man facing erectile dysfunction may have symptoms such as:

  • Trouble getting an erection

  • Difficulty keeping an erection

  • Reduced sexual desire

Causes of Erectile Dysfunction

When it comes to male sexual problems, we see a complex process. A process that involves your brain, emotions, hormones, nerves, muscles, and blood vessels. Having an issue with any of these components can contribute to Erectile dysfunction. And sometimes, a combination of a physical and psychological issue leads to this sexual issue. For example, a minor physical problem that may impact the sexual response may cause anxiety due to an inability to an erection. The stress may lead to worsening erectile dysfunction and make the situation more difficult for you.

Physical causes of Erectile dysfunction(ED)

These are some physical health issues that may lead to Erectile dysfunction. The most commonly seen causes include:

  • High cholesterol

  • Diabetes

  • High blood pressure

  • Cardiovascular disease

  • Clogged blood vessels

  • Obesity

  • Parkinson's disease

  • Peyronie's disease(the formation of scar tissue within the penis)

  • Metabolic syndrome

  • Multiple sclerosis

  • Sleep disorders

  • Low testosterone

  • Use of certain prescription medications

  • Alcoholism(Drink too much alcohol) and other forms of substance abuse

  • Use of Tobacco

  • Enlarged prostate or prostate cancer due to prostate surgery or radiation therapy

  • Problems affected blood vessels causing poor blood flow

  • Injury or had any surgery affecting the pelvic area or spinal cord

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Psychological Causes of Erectile Dysfunction

To trigger an erection, sexual excitement is an essential part of male sexual function. Under this, your brain leads a series of physical events that result in a penile erection. So, certain psychological things can interfere with sexual feelings. They may reduce your sexual excitement, and you may find it challenging to process erectile function. Such causes include:

  • Stress

  • Depression

  • Anxiety or other mental health issues

  • Relationship issues result from stress, poor communication, or other factors.

Complications of Erectile Dysfunction-

Erectile Dysfunction can cause complications such as:

  • Low-esteem and embarrassment

  • Anxiety and stress

  • An unsatisfactory sexual life

  • Unable to get your partner pregnant

  • Relationship conflicts and problems

When to see a doctor

  • It would be best to discuss your ED problem with a family doctor. You should see a doctor if:

  • You have symptoms of erectile dysfunction, and if you have other symptoms with it, too.

  • If you are concerned about your erection and facing other sexual problems such as premature ejaculation(PE)

  • Having diabetes, heart disease, and other health conditions that might have a like to your erectile dysfunction(ED).

  • If you have any medical history known to have a link with male sexual dysfunction.

How is Erectile dysfunction diagnosed?

Usually, ED is easy to diagnose. You may talk to a doctor as they will ensure that it isn't related to another health condition or not. They may conduct a physical examination and may ask you some questions about your symptoms. Also, ask for urine or blood tests. Depending on the results your doctor will consider the best possible treatment according to your preference.

Erectile dysfunction treatments

The treatment for ED depends on the underlying cause. You may suggest a combination of treatments that might include medication or talk therapy.


Your healthcare provider your prescribe you medications for treating erectile dysfunction. You may need to try several medications to find out what works best for you. These are some prescription drugs a doctor may prescribe to treat ED. Following oral medications are known to stimulate blood flow to the male sexual organ to help treat ED.

The above-given oral medications belong to the class of drugs known as PDE-5 Inhibitors. These drugs ensure adequate blood flow to the penis to treat sexual dysfunction like ED. You may consider using any of these prescription medication to treat your ED. But these drugs only work under sexual stimulation.

Alprostadil is another medication suggested by doctors to treat male impotence. Adminstration of these drugs has two ways, as a penile suppository or as a self-injection at the base or side of the penis.

Also, while having low testosterone levels, a doctor may recommend Testosterone replacement therapy(TRT). Testosterone therapy may improve low sex drive, and fix normal erections when used with ED drugs.

The use of medications for other conditions may also lead to ED as well. Thus, discuss your doctor about your medications and ask whether they can cause ED. Some medications might have sexual side effects so beware of such drugs.

Talk therapy

Several psychological factors may lead to ED, as you have read above. So, if you suffering from psychological ED, a therapist may discuss topics like:

  • major stress or anxiety factors that may also lead to psychogenic ED

  • Your feelings around sexual intimacy

  • Subconscious conflicts that might affect your sexual well-being

  • Problem in relationship with your sexual partner

If ED is affecting your relationship you must seek professional advice and consider taking a relationship counselor as well. Such might help you and your partner reconnect emotionally which might also help in ED.

Vacuum pumps

A vacuum pump is a device placed over the penis and consists of an elastic ring. It will create a vacuum that helps to acquire blood in the penis. This ring will move to the base of the penis to hold the blood in the penis and prevent it from returning to circulation. You may leave it in place for 30 minutes to keep your penis erect.

Penile Implants and surgical treatment for ED

These are surgically inserted devices used to treat erectile dysfunction. They provide rigidity for sexual intercourse by replacing the erectile tissue within the penis. Also, the doctor may suggest Vascular surgery which will repair the blocked arteries and interrupt proper blood flow to the penis.

Other Alternative ways to manage erectile dysfunction:

Exercises for Erectile Dysfunction

Exercises for erectile dysfunction often focus on improving blood flow. Strengthening pelvic floor muscles, and reducing stress might help in ED. Exercises such as Kegel exercises, aerobic exercises like brisk walking or jogging, and yoga poses may enhance pelvic circulation and reduce tension.

Natural Treatment for Erectile Dysfunction

Natural treatments for ED, like dietary changes, such as consuming foods rich in antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, and zinc, may help. Herbal supplements like ginseng, L-arginine, and horny goat weed were also found to be effective for ED. Moreover, managing stress, getting regular exercise, and maintaining a healthy weight can improve your overall sexual health.


Acupuncture involves the therapy by insertion of thin needles into specific points on the body. It may help to stimulate nerve pathways and improve blood flow. It can potentially fix erectile dysfunction by addressing underlying causes such as stress, anxiety, or circulation problems.

Ways to prevent erectile dysfunction

To prevent erectile dysfunction, these are some lifestyle changes you must adopt:

  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle by exercising regularly

  • Eating a balanced diet

  • Managing stress

  • Avoiding excessive alcohol consumption

  • Stop smoking

  • Avoid taking drugs that haven’t been prescribed by your doctor.

  • Seeking treatment for any underlying health issues like diabetes, hypertension, or high cholesterol.

Moreover, communicating with your partner about sexual concerns can help address any issues early on.


Erectile Dysfunction brings challenges to male sexual health and overall well-being. While the occasional problem with erections is common, persistent ED needs medical attention. It not only affects sexual performance but can lead to psychological distress, relationship conflicts, and complications like low self-esteem and anxiety. Understanding the underlying causes, including physical conditions like high cholesterol and diabetes, as well as psychological factors such as stress and depression, is crucial.

Treatment options vary, from medications like Sildenafil and Tadalafil to therapies like vacuum pumps and penile implants. Additionally, lifestyle modifications such as regular exercise, a balanced diet, stress management, and avoiding substance abuse can help prevent ED. By addressing both physical and emotional aspects, individuals can reclaim sexual health and enhance overall quality of life. Early intervention and open communication with your doctor and partners may help manage ED effectively.