Symptoms & Causes of Erectile Dysfunction

What are the symptoms of erectile dysfunction?

Symptoms of erectile dysfunction include

  • Being able to get an erection from time to time, but not every time you want to have sex
  • Being able to get an erection, but it didn’t last long enough to have sex
  • Not being able to get an erection at any time

Erectile dysfunction is often a symptom of another health problem or health-related factor.

A man has trouble sleeping.
Erectile dysfunction (ED) is often a symptom of another health problem.

What is the cause of erectile dysfunction?

Many different factors that affect your vascular system can cause or contribute to NIH Extrinsic Link, Nervous System Extrinsic Link NIH, and Endocrine System Erectile Dysfunction.

Although you are more likely to develop erectile dysfunction as you age, aging does not cause erectile dysfunction. Erectile dysfunction can be treated at any age.

Certain diseases and conditions


The following diseases and conditions can lead to erectile dysfunction:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Heart and blood vessel disease NIH External Link
  • atherosclerosis
  • arterial hypertension
  • chronic kidney disease
  • Multiple Sclerosis NIH External Link
  • Peyronie’s disease
  • Injury caused by NIH external links prostate cancer treatment, including radiation therapy and prostate
  • surgery
  • injury to the penis, spinal cord, prostate, bladder, or pelvis
  • Bladder Cancer Surgery NIH External Link

Men with diabetes are two to three times more likely to develop erectile dysfunction than men without diabetes. Learn more about diabetes and sexual and urinary problems.

Take certain medications

Erectile dysfunction can be a side effect of many common medications, such as:

  • NIH Hypertension Medications external link
  • Antiandrogens: Medications used to treat prostate cancer NIH External link
  • Antidepressants
  • prescription tranquilizers or sedatives that make you feel calm or drowsy
    appetite suppressants or medications that make you feel less hungry
  • ulcer medication

See the list of specific drugs that can cause erectile dysfunction NIH External Link.

Certain Psychological or Emotional problems

Psychological or emotional factors can worsen erectile dysfunction. You may develop erectile dysfunction if you have one or more of the following:

  • Fear of sexual failure
  • Concern NIH External Link
  • Depression NIH external link
  • Guilt about sexual performance or certain sexual activities
  • low self-esteem
  • Stress: related to sexual performance or stress in your life in general

Certain factors and behaviors related to health

The following health-related factors and behaviors can contribute to erectile dysfunction:

  • of smoking
  • drink too much alcohol
  • use illegal drugs
  • being overweight
  • not being physically active

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