Other factors leading to erectile dysfunction are diabetes mellitus, which is a well-known cause of neuropathy).[1] ED is also related to generally poor physical health, poor dietary habits, obesity, and most specifically cardiovascular disease, such as coronary artery disease and peripheral vascular disease.[1] Screening for cardiovascular risk factors, such as smoking, dyslipidemia, hypertension, and alcoholism is helpful.[1]

Erectile dysfunction can be embarrassing and difficult to talk about for some men. Many men may feel like they need to hide their diagnosis from their partner. "Failure to communicate openly about erectile dysfunction can result in both partners drawing away from the relationship," warns Feloney. Remember that your partner is also affected by your problem; being open and honest is the best way to decrease fear and anxiety. Discuss options for achieving sexual satisfaction together, and be positive — most erectile dysfunction problems can be treated.
When sexually stimulated there is a release of a chemical, nitric oxide (NO) in the blood vessels of the corpus cavernosum. The NO stimulates the production of a compound called cGMP, which causes relaxation of the smooth muscle in the blood vessels supplying the corpus cavernosum. PDE 5 is an enzyme that breaks down cGMP. By inhibiting the breakdown of cGMP by PDE5, these medications allow cGMP to build up in the penis. cGMP causes muscles in the corpora cavernosa of the penis to relax. When the muscle is relaxed, more blood can flow into the penis and fill the spaces in the penis. As the penis fills with blood, the veins in the penis are compressed, and this results a hard erection. When the effect on PDE5 decreases, the cGMP levels go down and the muscle in the penis contracts, causing less blood to flow into the penis and allowing the veins to open up and drain blood out of the penis.
Cavernosography measurement of the vascular pressure in the corpus cavernosum. Saline is infused under pressure into the corpus cavernosum with a butterfly needle, and the flow rate needed to maintain an erection indicates the degree of venous leakage. The leaking veins responsible may be visualized by infusing a mixture of saline and x-ray contrast medium and performing a cavernosogram.[22] In Digital Subtraction Angiography (DSA), the images are acquired digitally.
When looking at the potential causes of erectile dysfunction, it's important to understand that often more than one factor is involved or, as the American Urological Association puts it, "erectile function is the result of a complex interplay between vascular, neurologic, hormonal, and psychologic factors." Keep this in mind as you read through the wide-ranging list of causes and risk factors for ED, which includes medications, health conditions, injury, smoking, and more.
It is common for men with erectile dysfunction to have an underlying physical basis for it, particularly in older men. However, psychological factors may be present in 10% to 20% of men with erectile dysfunction. Experts say stress, depression, poor self-esteem, and performance anxiety can impair the ability to have an erection. These factors can also make erectile dysfunction worse in men whose sexual dysfunction stems from something physical.
If you drink a lot or take recreational drugs, this can also be a reason that you might experience erectile dysfunction. These effects can continue even when the effects of the substance feel like they’ve worn off, so make sure you take this into consideration if you’re experiencing ED. Speak with your GP or online doctor if you’re finding drinking or illegal drug use difficult to manage.
The penis contains three cylinders, the two corpora cavernosa, which are on the top of the penis (see figure 1 below). These two cylinders are involved in erections. The third cylinder contains the urethra, the tube that the urine and ejaculate passes through, runs along the underside of the penis. The corpus spongiosum surrounds the urethra. Spongy tissue that has muscles, fibrous tissues, veins, and arteries within it makes up the corpora cavernosa. The inside of the corpora cavernosa is like a sponge, with potential spaces that can fill with blood and distend (known as sinusoids). A layer of tissue that is like Saran Wrap, called the tunica albuginea, surrounds the corpora. Veins located just under the tunica albuginea drain blood out of the penis.
So many couples have sex the way they think it is supposed to be or they think their partner wants it to be without ever exploring and sharing their fantasies with each other. In order for sex to be hot enough for you to get hard, some of what is in your fantasy life needs to show up in your bedroom. Instead of living one life where you put exactly what you want into your porn searches and then have sex that doesn’t do it for you with your partner, it’s time to start bringing those naughty ideas to your partner so you can play them out or fantasize about them together!
Alprostadil should not be used in men with urethral stricture (scarring and narrowing of the tube that urine and the ejaculate pass through), balanitis (inflammation/infection of the glans [tip] of the penis, severe hypospadias (a condition where the opening of the urethra is not at the tip of the penis, rather on the underside of the penis), penile curvature (abnormal bend to the penis), and urethritis (inflammation/infection of the urethra).
^ 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.
High cholesterol and triglyceride levels increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. Getting your cholesterol and triglyceride levels in an optimal range will help protect your heart and blood vessels. Cholesterol management may include lifestyle interventions (diet and exercise) as well as medications to get your total cholesterol, LDL, HDL, and triglycerides in an optimal range.

Surgery to repair arteries (penile arterial reconstructive surgery) can reduce impotence caused by obstructions that block the flow of blood to the penis. The best candidates for such surgery are young men with discrete blockage of an artery because of a physical injury to the pubic area or a fracture of the pelvis. The procedure is less successful in older men with widespread blockage of arteries.
Your health our health. And you don’t have to stop taking life-saving medication to treat ED. Talk to your doctor to see if you can alter the medication that’s causing your ED toIf you’re experiencing ED.  A frank discussion can lead to alternative medications or treatments, and a better discussion about ED. Just remember that you should never stop taking a prescription medication without the supervision of a doctor.
An erection is a "neurovascular event" meaning that in order to have an erection there needs to be proper function of nerves, arteries, and veins. An erection involves the central nervous system, the peripheral nervous system, physiologic and psychological factors, local factors with the erection bodies or the penis itself, as well as hormonal and vascular (blood flow or circulation) components. The penile portion of the process leading to an erection represents only a single component of a very complex process.

Alprostadil should not be used in men with urethral stricture (scarring and narrowing of the tube that urine and the ejaculate pass through), balanitis (inflammation/infection of the glans [tip] of the penis, severe hypospadias (a condition where the opening of the urethra is not at the tip of the penis, rather on the underside of the penis), penile curvature (abnormal bend to the penis), and urethritis (inflammation/infection of the urethra).
Treatments include psychotherapy, adopting a healthy lifestyle, oral phosphodiesterase type V (PDE5) inhibitors (Viagra, Levitra, Cialis, Stendra, and Staxyn), intraurethral prostaglandin E1 (MUSE), intracavernosal injections (prostaglandin E1 [Caverject, Edex], Bimix and Trimix), vacuum devices, penile prosthesis and vascular surgery, and (in some cases) changes in medications when appropriate.
Getting an erection is a complicated process that involves hormones, nerves, and blood pressure changes. When prescription medication changes how one of these factors works—like a drop in blood pressure—ED is a common side effect. And the problem is that when most men experience ED as a side effect of medication, they typically do one of two things:
Erectile dysfunction (ED) is the inability to get an erection or to keep one that's firm enough or that lasts long enough for a man to have a satisfying sexual experience. Occasional bouts of ED aren't unusual. In fact, as many as one in five men deal with erectile dysfunction to some degree. Symptoms, of course, are rather obvious. And while age can be a risk factor, so can medication use, health conditions, lifestyle factors (like smoking), and other concerns. Treatment is available and may involve prescriptions, habit changes, or other options.

Attempts to treat erectile dysfunction date back well over 1,000 years. In the 8th century, men of Ancient Rome and Greece wore talismans of rooster and goat genitalia, believing these talismans would serve as an aphrodisiac and promote sexual function.[42] In the 13th century Albertus Magnus recommended ingesting roasted wolf penis as a remedy for impotence[42].
One way to figure out if you are dealing with psychological ED is to determine if the symptom is showing up across your sexual interactions. In other words – if you feel comfortable, relaxed and have perfectly normal erections during masturbation but cannot get them with a partner, you are likely dealing with psychological ED. If you are having ED in all situations, even masturbation, make sure you get checked out by a physician, as it can be a sign of heart disease.
Is your erectile dysfunction due to psychological (stress, relationship problems, etc.) or physical factors? Your doctor may ask if you note erections at night or in the early morning. Men have involuntary erections in the early morning and during REM sleep (a stage in the sleep cycle with rapid eye movements). Men with psychogenic erectile dysfunction (erectile dysfunction due to psychological factors such as stress and anxiety rather than physical factors) usually maintain these involuntary erections. Men with physical causes of erectile dysfunction (for example, atherosclerosis, smoking, and diabetes) usually do not have these involuntary erections. Men with psychogenic erectile dysfunction may relate the onset of problems to a "stressor," such as failed relationship. Your doctor may suggest a test to determine if you have erections during sleep, which may suggest that there may be a psychological cause of the erectile dysfunction.
Depression and anxiety: Psychological factors may be responsible for erectile dysfunction. These factors include stress, anxiety, guilt, depression, widower syndrome, low self-esteem, posttraumatic stress disorder, and fear of sexual failure (performance anxiety). It is also worth noting that many medications used for treatment of depression and other psychiatric disorders may cause erectile dysfunction or ejaculatory problems.
Information contained in the Ask the Pharmacist column by Dr. Armon B. Neel Jr. is intended to help individuals and their families become more informed about medication usage and interactions, and be better health care consumers. Any advice or information provided should not be followed in lieu of a personal consultation with a trained medical professional.
If you are experiencing ED, you should talk with your doctor about your potential risk for cardiovascular disease. And if you’re already taking certain medications such as nitrites for your heart or alpha-blockers to manage blood pressure, your doctor will discuss whether ED medications are right for you or whether other options may be more appropriate.
Men with a rare heart condition known as long QT syndrome should not take vardenafil since this may lead to abnormal heart rhythms. The QT interval is the time it takes for the heart's muscle to recover after it has contracted. An electrocardiogram (EKG) measures the QT interval. Some people have longer than normal QT intervals, and they may develop potentially life-threatening abnormal heart rhythms, especially when given certain medications. Men with a family history of long QT syndrome should not take vardenafil, as it is possible to inherit long QT syndrome. Furthermore, vardenafil is not recommended for men who are taking medications that can affect the QT interval such as quinidine (Quinaglute, Quinidex), procainamide (Pronestyl, Procan-SR, Procanbid), amiodarone (Cordarone), and sotalol (Betapace).
Having learned a great deal more about erectile dysfunction including its risk factors and causes, you should be equipped to assess your own erectile function. If you have experienced erectile issues or you have some of the risk factors mentioned above, it may be worth making a trip to your doctor’s office. If you choose to seek help, give your doctor as much information as you can about your symptoms including their frequency and severity as well as the onset. With your doctor’s help, you can determine the best course of treatment to restore sexual function.
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
How they can cause sexual dysfunction: While high blood pressure in itself can lead to sexual dysfunction, studies show that many of the drugs used to treat this condition also can cause sexual difficulties. In men, the decreased blood flow can reduce desire and interfere with erections and ejaculation. In women, it can lead to vaginal dryness, a decrease in desire, and difficulties achieving orgasm.
Viagra and Cialis, despite their aggressive marketing, are not the ideal treatment for men with psychological impotence. Rather, they are designed to treat physical erectile dysfunction that is rooted in blood flow malfunction. For the man with psychological ED, taking a pill may not work properly because they’re not tackling the psychological causes of the problem.

Illegal drugs don’t just affect and suppress the central nervous system. They cause serious damage to blood vessels. And any damage to blood vessels or normal blood flow will eventually cause erectile dysfunction. Some experts even argue that a single use of any of these chemicals can lead to subsequent ED. Chronic use raises the risk even more. If you have a substance addiction speak to your physician. There’s always help available.
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