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Physical causes of erectile dysfunction

Men's health

Physical causes of erectile dysfunction

Ava Morris August 2, 2018

The process of getting erection is a complicated one and the problems can be caused by various factors. Psychological or physical problems or  both may underlie inability to get erection.

Physical problems of erectile dysfunction are associated with impairment of sequence of events leading to erection. This sequence includes nervous impulses in the brain, spinal cord and penis and the following response of the muscles, fibrous tissues, veins and arteries inside and outside cavernous bodies.

Very often sequence impairment is affected by the arteries, muscles and tissues surrounding the penis. Most often such impairment is the result of some disease. The following diseases typically cause erectile dysfunction:

  • Diabetes: diabetes can cause injury of the nerve endings and arteries which makes it difficult to get erection. According to the National Institutes of Health, 35%-50% of men suffering diabetes also have erectile dysfunction. Other resources claim that 75% of men with diabetes have erectile dysfunction and the risk of its developing is increasing with age.
  • Kidney disease: kidney disease can lead to chemical changes in the body affecting hormones, circulation, functions of nervous endings and energy of a person. Often such changes decrease male sexual drive. Medical drugs to treat kidney disease can also be the cause of erectile dysfunction.
  • Neurological diseases (diseases of the nerves and brain): the nervous system plays an important role in getting and maintaining erection. Erectile dysfunction is a common condition among men suffering cerebral stroke, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer disease, Parkinson disease and spinal injury. This can be explained by the anomalies of transmission of nervous impulses between the brain and the penis.
  • Vascular diseases: vascular diseases are caused by the dysfunction of blood vessels. Among the most common vascular diseases are atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), high blood pressure and high blood level of cholesterol. These diseases are responsible for 70% cases of erectile dysfunction – blood flow to the heart and the brain is limited and in case with erectile dysfunction, blood flow to the penis is not adequate.
  • Prostate cancer: prostate cancer does not directly cause erectile dysfunction but treatment (radiotherapy, hormonal drugs or surgery) can lead to the problems with erection.

Physical causes of erectile dysfunction are associated not only with diseases. There are other reasons underlying erectile dysfunction:

  • Surgical intervention: surgery to treat prostate or bladder cancer often requires removal of nervous endings and tissues surrounding the affected areas which can lead to erectile dysfunction. Some surgeries can cause temporary problems with erectile dysfunction (6-18 months) and other surgeries can lead to irreparable damage of the structure of the nerves and tissues around the penis. In these cases, to overcome erectile dysfunction special treatment is required.
  • Injuries: injuries of the pelvis, bladder, spinal cord and penis that require surgery are also a common cause of erectile dysfunction.
  • Hormonal imbalance: the imbalance of such hormones as thyroid hormones, prolactin and testosterone can have a negative impact on male sexual drive. Such injuries can be a result of pituitary tumor, kidney disease, liver disease or prostate cancer hormonal treatment.
  • Venous leak: it is inability to maintain an erection in the presence of sufficient arterial blood flow through the cavernosal arteries of the artery. This condition can be a result of some injure or a disease.
  • Smoking, abusing alcohol or drugs: all these substances destroy the hemal system of a person and/or limit blood flow to the penis. Smoking is especially harmful for men with arteriosclerosis.
  • Prescription medical drugs: there are more than 200 different prescription drugs that can cause erectile dysfunction.
  • Enlarged prostate: bladder neck contracture caused by the enlarged prostate has been recently associated with erectile dysfunction.