When blood fills two chambers in the penis (known as the corpora cavernosa) an erection occurs. This causes the penis to expand and stiffen, much like a balloon as it is filled with water. The process is triggered by nerve impulses from the brain and genital area. Anything that interferes with these impulses or restricts blood flow to the penis can result in erectile dysfunction.

Erectile Dysfunction is typically caused by a problem with blood flow in the penis due to the hardening and narrowing of the blood vessels of the penis. This occurs most commonly due to aging itself, which causes the smooth muscle cells that line the blood vessels to become stiffer and less able to stretch. This prevents the flow of blood that the penis requires to become erect.
In addition to these laboratory tests, your doctor may also ask you to complete a self-report to gauge your level of sexual function. You’ll be asked questions about your sexual desire (libido), your ability to achieve and maintain an erection, your ability to reach orgasm, your satisfaction level with intercourse, as well as your overall sexual satisfaction. Depending on your answers, and the results of your laboratory tests, your doctor may recommend a psychological evaluation to further explore the potential cause for your ED.
If you or your partner suffers from occasional or situation-related Erectile Dysfunction (ED) with no medical explanation, it can be really helpful to understand in more depth what may be going on. The good news is that it is entirely possible that a non-medical option will work for your ED from this list of possible solutions (if the source of your issues is indeed psychological). As sex and relationship coaches, we help men deal with psychological ED all the time. The answer to these 5 questions might help you get in touch with a stronger, more lasting erection.

Other antidepressants such as venlafaxine and mirtazapine have variable negative effects on all aspects of sexual function. Initial reports on agomelatine in both male and female patients with major depressive disorder suggested significant antidepressant efficacy without significant sexual adverse effects. However, more recent reviews of the sexual effects are conflicting.26,27
One of the first steps is to distinguish between physiological and psychological ED. Determining whether involuntary erections are present is important in eliminating the possibility of psychogenic causes for ED.[1] Obtaining full erections occasionally, such as nocturnal penile tumescence when asleep (that is, when the mind and psychological issues, if any, are less present), tends to suggest that the physical structures are functionally working.[20][21] Similarly, performance with manual stimulation, as well as any performance anxiety or acute situational ED, may indicate a psychogenic component to ED.[1]
Supplements are popular and often cheaper than prescription drugs for ED. However, supplements have not been tested to see how well they work or if they are a safe treatment for ED. Patients should know that many over-the-counter drugs have been found on drug testing to have ‘bootlegged' PDE 5 Inhibitors as their main ingredient. The amounts of Viagra, Cialis, Levitra or Stendra that may be in these supplements is not under quality control and may differ from pill to pill. The FDA has issued consumer warnings and alerts.
The symptoms of erectile dysfunction include difficulty achieving an erection, trouble maintaining an erection, and a reduced interest in sex. Because male sexual arousal is a fairly complex process, it can sometimes be difficult to identify a specific cause. Arousal starts in the brain but it also involves the nerves, muscles, and blood vessels and can be impacted by hormones and emotions. If a problem develops with any of these things, erectile dysfunction could be the consequence.

Many commonly used drugs can cause erectile dysfunction. Prescription medication and over-the-counter drugs can decrease libido, interfere with normal blood flow, or even cause absent seminal emission or retrograde ejaculation. In fact, 8 of the 12 most commonly prescribed medications list ED as a side effect. Medications that commonly cause ED include:
Psychological issues can affect more than just your mental health. Depression, anxiety, stress, and relationship problems can have a tremendous effect on your sexual function. If you’re experiencing ED along with psychological issues, talk with your doctor. Together, you and your doctor can find a cause and a treatment to bring your sexual health back to normal.
The Viagra class of drugs come out from under patent protection in nine months. Already, they're on in such first world countries as New Zealand. You can order them online for shipment to America from there as little as a buck a dose, and the quality is perfectly fine. In ten months, that's what they're going to cost here, from American manufacturers.
If on one hand, depression and anxiety can lead to ED, drugs commonly used for their treatment can cause ED, as well. Sexual dysfunctions are common side effects of several psychotropic drugs that can disrupt sexual health by several different mechanisms (83). In particular, ED has been reported in subjects using serotonin selective re-uptake inhibitors (SSRI), lithium and benzodiazepines (83). SSRI are associated with a broad spectrum of sexual dysfunctions, but the most commonly reported complaints are delayed ejaculation or anorgasmia and reduced sexual desire (84). Several mechanisms could be advocated including the agonist effect on serotonin receptors type 2 and the increase in PRL levels. ED is a frequent complaint as well (84,85). The relationship between the use of SSRI and ED can be secondary to loss of sexual desire but SSRI, in particular paroxetine, are also able to inhibit cholinergic receptors and nitric oxide synthase (86). In addition, it has been observed that SSRIs might down-regulate hypothalamic-pituitary-testis axis in depressed men (87).
Sexual dysfunction is more common in women with hypertension (before treatment) compared to normotensive women (42% vs 19%).12 Although the sexual effects of antihypertensives have been poorly studied in women, these drugs may have similar adverse effects on the arousal phase as in men, leading to failure of swelling and lubrication. Decreased sexual desire (41% of women) and sexual pleasure (34%) have been reported.13 Alpha adrenergic drugs such as clonidine and prazosin also reduce desire (in a small, randomised trial)14 and arousal15. The angiotensin II receptor antagonist, valsartan, was associated with improved sexual desire and fantasies when compared with the beta blocker atenolol in women with hypertension.16
Vacuum devices for ED, also called pumps, offer an alternative to medication. The penis is placed inside a cylinder. A pump draws air out of the cylinder, creating a partial vacuum around the penis. This causes it to fill with blood, leading to an erection. An elastic band worn around the base of the penis maintains the erection during intercourse.
To get out of your head, you need to start focusing on the delicious sensations (touch, smells, sounds) that you are experiencing in the present moment and stop the “what ifs” from bringing you down. One really helpful approach to getting out of your head is deep breathing which helps lower anxiety. Next, you can imagine that each breath you take is connecting you with the pleasurable touch you are giving to and receiving from your partner. This should help to get you more engrossed in the experience and less anxious or distracted. 
This content is provided as a service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), part of the National Institutes of Health. The NIDDK translates and disseminates research findings through its clearinghouses and education programs to increase knowledge and understanding about health and disease among patients, health professionals, and the public. Content produced by the NIDDK is carefully reviewed by NIDDK scientists and other experts.
A chemical imbalance in brain leads to depression which not only affects the sexual performance but can also lower the libido. Compared to women, depression in men is more difficult to diagnose. In fact, many men don’t even know that they are suffering from depression and even if they find out they are often not willing to seek appropriate treatment.
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Psychotherapy can be beneficial for an individual, but couples therapy sessions are also helpful. Connolly says it's often good for a couple to attend an initial session together to address issues and concerns. Individual sessions can then address issues with each partner, leading up to the couple working together. This approach "can help reach under the outward problems and uncover what needs to be dealt with and talked about in order to enjoy physical and emotional intimacy," Connolly says.
With an inflatable implant, fluid-filled cylinders are placed lengthwise in the penis. Tubing joins these cylinders to a pump placed inside the scrotum (between the testicles). When the pump is engaged, pressure in the cylinders inflate the penis and makes it stiff. Inflatable implants make a normal looking erection and are natural feeling for your partner. Your surgeon may suggest a lubricant for your partner. With the implant, men can control firmness and, sometimes, the size of the erection. Implants allows a couple to be spontaneously intimate. There is generally no change to a man's feeling or orgasm.
As a primary care doctor, my most important job is to tailor treatment for my patients while still making decisions based on the medical literature. So when patients tell me their treatment is causing undesired side effects—like ED—I work with them to create a plan to treat the condition while also finding a way to relieve those side effects. Fortunately, there are ways to deal with medically induced ED.
Aside from the medicine, it is important to be aware of the effects of psychiatric problems on the patient's relationship and address the psychosocial issues.17 Up to 70% of patients with depression have sexual dysfunction, which can affect any phase of sexual activity.18 Reports indicate that 30–80% of women and 45–80% of men with schizophrenia also experience sexual problems.19 In these patients, it may be difficult to distinguish the effects of the illness on sexual function from the effects of the drugs used for treatment.
^ Latini, DM; Penson, DF; Colwell, HH; Lubeck, DP; Mehta, SS; Henning, JM; Lue, TF (Nov 2002). "Psychological impact of erectile dysfunction: validation of a new health related quality of life measure for patients with erectile dysfunction". Journal of Urology. 168 (168(5)): 2086–91. doi:10.1097/01.ju.0000034365.57110.b7 (inactive 2019-02-16). PMID 12394715.
You may find that using a vacuum device requires some practice or adjustment. Using the device may make your penis feel cold or numb and have a purple color. You also may have bruising on your penis. However, the bruises are most often painless and disappear in a few days. Vacuum devices may weaken ejaculation but, in most cases, the devices do not affect the pleasure of climax, or orgasm.

Psychological Causes of ED – Between 10% and 20% of ED cases have a psychological cause. Because arousal starts in the brain, psychological issues can be a significant contributing factor to erectile dysfunction. Mental health conditions like depression or anxiety can negatively impact your libido, making it more difficult for you to become aroused.
Some men should not take PDE5 inhibitors. They can cause hypotension (abnormally low blood pressure that can lead to fainting and even shock) when given to patients who are taking nitrates (medications taken for heart disease). Therefore, patients taking nitrates daily should not take any of the PDE5 inhibitors. Nitrates relieve angina (chest pain due to insufficient blood supply to the heart muscle because of narrowing of the coronary arteries); these include nitroglycerine tablets, patches, ointments, sprays, and pastes, as well as isosorbide dinitrate and isosorbide mononitrate. Other nitrates such as amyl nitrate and butyl nitrate also are in some recreational drugs called "poppers."
Many commonly used drugs can cause erectile dysfunction. Prescription medication and over-the-counter drugs can decrease libido, interfere with normal blood flow, or even cause absent seminal emission or retrograde ejaculation. In fact, 8 of the 12 most commonly prescribed medications list ED as a side effect. Medications that commonly cause ED include:
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