Causes of ED: Demistifying The Myths

Erectile dysfunction implies an inability to achieve or sustain an erection during sexual activity. It is a sex dysfunction whereby the male is unable to get the required erection level for penetration or maintain it long enough for a mutually satisfactory sexual intercourse with the partner. 

For an erection to occur a complex process takes place within the body involving the muscles, blood vessels, emotions, hormones and the brain. Disruption of this process translates to inadequate blood supply in the penis causing ED. 

Erectile dysfunction is a common problem among males and its incidence increases with age especially for men over the age of 40. However, one can suffer the condition at any age. Causes of the ED (Erectile dysfunction) can be classified as psychological or physical. They include the following:

Psychological/mental causes

mental causesThe physical events within the body that lead up to an erection start from sexual feelings in the brain. Interference with these sexual feelings by either depression or anxiety may lead to occurrence or worsening of erectile dysfunction. Causes of anxiety and depression include:-

  • Feeling nervous or self conscious about sex. This is referred to as performance anxiety. 
  • Feeling stressed at home or at work
  • Depression especially with age or as a result of widows syndrome
  • Past sexual problems or abuse

Physical causes

Health conditions

The main types of health conditions resulting in ED include the following:

  • Hormonal conditions

Hormonal imbalance can be a cause of ED. Examples of conditions that cause hormonal imbalance and subsequent erectile dysfunction include:

Hormonal imbalance

  • Hypothyroidism – This is caused by an underactive thyroid gland producing too little thyroid hormone
  • Hyperthyroidism – This is caused by an overactive thyroid gland producing too much thyroid hormone
  • Hypogonadism – This condition leads to production of low levels of testosterone
  • Cushing’s syndrome – this condition disrupts the production of cortisol hormone  
  • Anatomical conditions

When the anatomy of the penis is affected, erectile dysfunction may result. Anatomical changes could be as a result of injuries, surgery or disease. Severe head injuries can also cause erectile dysfunction in a small percentage of patients. 

  • Neurological conditions

These are conditions of the nervous system that is the brain, nerves and spinal cord. Common neurological causes include:

  • Stroke – interruption of blood supply to the brain
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Spinal injury
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Vasculogenic conditions

These are conditions affecting the flow of blood to the penis. Examples of such conditions include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes caused by high levels of blood sugar. 
  • Cardiovascular diseases such as heart disease or disease of the blood vessels e.g atherosclerosis

Other causes of erectile dysfunction include the following:

  • Certain medicines and treatments may cause erectile dysfunction
  • Excess intake of alcohol
  • Drugs such as miraa, cocaine, cannabis or heroine
  • Excessive cycling that is for more than three hours a week or riding in the wrong position.

Tobacco smokers, obese men or those with high levels of cholesterol and men who do not engage in exercise or physical activity are at increased risk of contracting erectile dysfunction.

ED is a medical condition which many men wrongly conceal in shame. It is an emasculating condition with many myths surrounding its causes. ED however is a serious medical condition and It is advisable to seek medical attention as soon as you notice the symptoms since it could also be a symptom of a more serious condition such as cardiovascular disease.