Psychological erectile dysfunction : Symptoms and Causes

Psychological erectile dysfunction : Symptoms and Causes
Published : Jun 04, 2024

Erectile dysfunction is a male sexual dysfunction that causes difficulty in getting and maintaining hard erections. This sexual dysfunction can occur due to various reasons, including medicines, lifestyle, and psychological factors. 

Psychological erectile dysfunction happens when stress, depression, body image, and anxiety affect your ability to achieve or sustain an erection. Though erectile dysfunction can affect men at any age,  psychological erectile dysfunction cases usually occur in young men. 

If you are wondering what are the psychological causes of erectile dysfunction and how to deal with them, continue reading this article. 

What is psychological erectile dysfunction? 

Psychological erectile dysfunction is a condition when a man is unable to achieve or maintain an erection due to mental health problems or emotional distress, not by physical problems that affect blood flow in the body. 

Depression, performance anxiety, relationship conflict, and stress about family or work can cause erectile dysfunction by affecting a man’s mental stimulation process. 

Generally, there are types of erection that an individual can experience:

  • Psychogenic 

  • Reflexogenic 

  • Nocturnal, also called morning wood

Symptoms of psychological ED

When a man is unable to get or maintain an erection occasionally, it is not a cause for concern. However, when a man struggles to achieve and maintain an erection during sexual intercourse half of the time, it might be erectile dysfunction. 

Some common symptoms of erectile dysfunction over your sexual health include:

  • The problem in attaining an erection

  • Premature or delayed erection

  • Loss of erection before sexual activity is over

  • Interest in sexual intercourse but trouble performing

You should know that symptoms of erectile dysfunction can differ from person to person. It is essential to consult a doctor immediately if you experience any of these ED symptoms.

Causes of psychological erectile dysfunction

Here are some common causes that contribute to psychological erectile dysfunction:

Performance anxiety 

Performance anxiety is a feeling of concern about how you are going to perform sexually. This might include concerns about whether you will be able to satisfy your partner and fear about sustaining hard erections. All this leads to psychogenic erectile dysfunction. 

This disorder can affect your sexual life and well-being, causing poor self-image and depression and stopping you from involving in sexual activity. 

Stress and anxiety 

Although stress and anxiety are two different things, they are closely related when it comes to erectile dysfunction problems. There are several cases in which stress is an underlying factor, but it causes anxiety, which makes you experience more stress. 

As a man, you should know that there are three different types of erections. A reflexive erection happens due to physical stimulation, while mental or visual images activate a psychogenic erection. A nocturnal erection takes place during sleeping. 

All three might involve bodily systems such as muscles, hormones, nervous system, emotions, and blood vessels. You might start suffering from ED if any of these systems are affected. 

In the case of anxiety and stress, all these things might affect the ability of your brain to send vital signals that cause the desired erection. Thus, anxiety and stress may cause problems in getting and maintaining hard erections. 

Low self-esteem

Low self-esteem is also responsible for contributing to symptoms of psychological ED. It can be related to performance during prior sexual activity and might lead to feelings of shame or failure. You might experience sexual performance anxiety or depression due to low confidence, which contributes to ED. 


Unless you experience depression yourself, you might think of it as something similar to sadness. While depression might cause feelings of sadness, it becomes much more profound and tends to cause erectile dysfunction. 

Depression acts like an anchor, weighing you down in body and mind, disturbing all aspects of life, including physical and mental. Men suffering from depression have low testosterone levels and face low sexual desire. Further, low testosterone levels can lead to the development of erectile dysfunction. 

Pornography addiction 

When it comes to the potential cause of ED, several men fail to consider pornography addiction. As per research, it is revealed that if a man spends a great time watching and masturbating to pornography, it can make him impractical outlooks about sexual partners or sexual intercourse. 

When this happens, your brain automatically becomes trained to expect and require that kind of experience to attain climax. This condition is known as pornography-induced erectile dysfunction.

Treatment of Psychological ED

Nowadays, there are several treatment options and techniques which can help you to treat psychological erectile dysfunction. These include different psychological treatment plans that can be combined with medical treatment to treat Erectile dysfunction(ED). Some commonly used treatments include:


Psychotherapy usually involves regular appointments with a psychologist to discuss your sexual disorders, erectile dysfunction, and mental health problems. You can schedule psychotherapy one-on-one with the therapist or simply in a group setting. 

However, when psychotherapy is combined with medicines, it offers more effective results. 

Couple Counselling

Couple counseling is often considered an effective way to deal with psychological ED as it gives you a chance to improve your communication with your partner about intimacy and sexual activity. This type of counseling also helps you to examine sexual relationships and gain an understanding of each other’s sexual functioning. It helps to make conversations more clear between you and your sexual partner and bring proper understanding. Couple counseling might help you gain self-esteem and ensure partner support to make it more robust against ED and overcome it.

Relaxation techniques

Relaxation techniques like mindfulness and sensate focus help men to deal with psychological erectile dysfunction. Mindfulness can be used to improve sexual dysfunction.

On the other hand, sensitive focus can be practical for couples facing ED problems. This type of sexual therapy involves removing the concentration on achieving orgasm for either person. It helps you to focus on your experience of sensations. 

Sensate focus is often considered effective for performance anxiety and other stresses that men with erectile dysfunction experience.


If you are tired of trying all the techniques, your doctor might recommend some prescription medicines to treat psychological erectile dysfunction. The most common ED medicines are PDE-5 inhibitors, which help to increase blood flow to male reproductive organs and ensure hard erections. Thus, ED medicines can help you get back your sexual function and help you manage hard erections that last longer. Some common ED medicines include Viagra, Cialis, and Levitra. But these ED medications can only help treat sexual dysfunction like ED when you get sexual arousal on your own.


Therefore, whether you have erectile dysfunction due to psychological cause or physical causes, it is essential to consult a doctor to get back on the road to achieving all your sexual desires. Work on the psychological factors involved in your sexual dysfunctions like Erectile dysfunction(ED). Seek  Psychotherapy, Relaxation techniques, Couple counseling, and medical treatment to address the condition effectively.

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