Causes of Erection Problems Help for Erectile Dysfunction

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At one point or another, almost all guys have trouble getting or keeping an erection. There's lots of reasons why it happens. Most of the time, it's just stress or nerves, or maybe you're just not in the mood. But it can also be a sign of other health problems too.

What causes Erectile Difficulties and what can I do?

If you are having some problems getting or keeping an erection, there are a few basic facts you should keep in mind.

  • Erectile dysfunction is a common problem that happens to many men.
  • As a man grows older, the number of erections he has, how quickly he gets them, how hard they are, and how long they last, gradually decreases.
  • Erectile dysfunction is when a man can't get or keep an erection hard enough to have sex and this is a problem that happens often/regularly.
  • If you do have erectile dysfunction, in most cases, your doctor can help you.

There are different reasons why a man may have temporary/occasional erectile difficulties or erectile dysfunction. These reasons can be divided into three categories: psychological, lifestyle, and medical.

Psychological Factors

Sometimes a man is able to get an erection when he is asleep, or is masturbating or thinking about sex but he is not able to get an erection when he is having sex with a partner. There are several reasons why this can happen.

  • Sometimes a man is nervous about having sex. This is more likely to happen when he is having sex with a new partner. Both partners may be feeling nervous and uncomfortable. The man may be worried that his penis will not be hard enough. Because he is worried and paying so much attention to wanting his penis to be hard he is not able to relax and enjoy himself and this can make it difficult to get an erection.
  • Sometimes men and their partners are uncomfortable about talking with each other about sex even if they have known each other for a long time. They do not know what each other likes and the man may not get as sexually aroused ("turned-on") as he used to when the relationship first started.
  • Sometimes if a man and his partner are not getting along well in other parts of their relationship, it is not as easy to get aroused and this can also make it difficult for a man to get an erection.

Lifestyle Factors

There are many different lifestyle factors that can affect a man's ability to get an erection. In general, if you do not take care of your health, you are more likely, as you get older, to start to have problems getting an erection. For example, having a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, not smoking, and not drinking too much alcohol are all things you can do to help you be healthy. The healthier your body is, the more likely it is that you will be able to get and keep an erection.

Medical Factors

There are a large number of medical conditions and medicines that can affect a man's ability to have an erection. These include:

  • diabetes
  • high blood pressure
  • heart conditions (heart disease)
  • thyroid conditions
  • poor circulation
  • depression
  • low testosterone
  • spinal cord injury
  • multiple sclerosis
  • nerve damage (e.g., from prostate surgery)
  • Parkinson's disease

Medicines that may interfere with an erection include:

  • Antidepressants (e.g., SSRI's)
  • Blood pressure medications (e.g., beta-blockers)
  • Heart medications (e.g., digoxin)
  • Sleeping pills
  • Peptic ulcer medications

If you think that a medicine you are taking may have something to do with your erection difficulties, DO NOT stop taking your medicine or take less of it without talking to your doctor first. In many cases, your doctor can change the medicine you are taking or adjust the dose so that your erections are not affected.

Things You Can Do To Deal With, And Avoid Erectile Problems

  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Reduce or stop smoking
  • Avoid using drugs (e.g., cocaine)
  • Get enough sleep
  • Avoid too much stress (feeling pressure, worrying a lot)
  • Limit the amount of alcohol you drink (especially before having sex)
  • Take your mind off your penis and pay attention instead to kissing and touching your partner. The less you worry about having an erection, the more likely you are to get one.
  • Try to talk openly and honestly with your partner about your sex life together including the pressure you may be feeling about having erections.

Getting Help for Erectile Difficulties

If you continue to have regular difficulties getting and keeping an erection and the problem does not go away, you should go to see a doctor. Don't be embarrassed! More and more, men are going to see their doctors about erection difficulties. Most doctors are used to having their male patients ask about erectile problems. In most cases, the doctor will be able to help and there are effective medicines to treat erectile dysfunction.

When you call the doctor's office to make an appointment, you do not need to give details to the receptionist, about why you want to see the doctor. You could say "I would like to see the Doctor about a personal health issue"When you see the doctor, you could say "I am having a problem with my erections." If you are going to the doctor for a regular check-up, tell the doctor about your erection difficulties at the beginning of the appointment, not near the end. The doctor will probably give you a physical examination and ask you some direct questions, such as how long you have had erection difficulties, if you sometimes wake-up with erections, if there are certain situations when you get hard but others when you don't, if your penis gets a little hard when you are sexually excited or not hard at all, and other questions like this. Try to be as clear and honest as possible in answering these questions. The more clear and honest the information you give, the more likely it is that your doctor will be able to help solve your erectile difficulties.

APA Reference
Staff, H. (2008, December 29). Causes of Erection Problems Help for Erectile Dysfunction, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 15 from

Last Updated: June 30, 2019

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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