Your risk of having an (erectile dysfunction) increases with age.
Diseases, physical or psychological problems, and certain activities also may increase your risk.
Diseases that affect blood vessels include:
- . About half of men with diabetes develop erection problems.
- or other blood vessel diseases.
- or low (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol.
Diseases or procedures that affect nerves include:
- Having had surgery involving the , , , or . These procedures may cause injury to nerves involved in achieving and maintaining an erection.
Other conditions include:
- Thyroid problems.
- Low levels of the hormones needed for the normal development and function of the sex organs (hypogonadism), leading to low levels.
Injuries or treatment include:
- Injury to the penis or pelvic region.
- Injury to the spinal cord or nerves to the penis.
- Pelvic surgery.
- Radiation in the pelvic area.
Medicines and other substances that increase your risk include:
- Some medicines to treat high blood pressure or depression.
- Long-term (chronic) alcohol abuse.
- Drug abuse.
- Tobacco use.
Psychological risk factors include:
- or stress.
- Relationship problems.
- A recent major life change (birth of a child, retirement, job change, loss or death of a partner, divorce, or marriage).
Activities that constrict blood flow to the penis-such as frequent long-distance bicycle riding on a hard, narrow saddle-may increase a man's risk of developing an erection problem. But experts continue to debate this issue.
A usually does not cause erection problems. But pain after the operation may affect sexual performance for a time, and if a man was not comfortable with his decision to have a vasectomy, or is having second thoughts, it could affect him psychologically.