Erectile dysfunction can be a frustrating and embarrassing issue. According to the Urology Care Foundation, erectile dysfunction is characterized by the inability to produce or maintain an erection that is firm enough for sexual intercourse. Most men will face this problem on occasion. However, erectile dysfunction that happens with increasing regularity or that interferes with sexual activity more than half of the time is not normal. Your physician can help diagnose the underlying problem that contributes to erectile dysfunction. Here are 10 possible reasons for this problem.
10. Alcohol or Drug Use
While alcohol or recreational drugs can relieve inhibitions and increase your desire for sex, they often interfere with sexual performance and ability. Studies show that dependence on alcohol increases the risk of sexual dysfunction. According to Impotence Guide, alcohol contributes to erectile dysfunction by dampening signals from the central nervous system, damaging nerve endings in the penis, and disrupting testosterone levels. The effects of alcohol on judgment, focus, and coordination also hamper the ability to enjoy healthy sexual activity.
9. Medication Side Effects
Certain prescription medications may have negative effects on sexual function. Blood pressure medications may have side effects that contribute to erectile dysfunction. The Mayo Clinic reports that diuretics can decrease blood flow to the penis. Another class of blood pressure medication, beta blockers, is also associated with problems achieving an erection. If you suspect prescription medications are interfering with sex, do not stop taking them until you speak with your physician. Your doctor may be able to select a different class of drug or a combination of medications to keep your heart healthy while also preserving your sex life.
8. Performance Anxiety
Your brain has just as much to do with sex as do your private parts. Worry over the ability to achieve or maintain an erection can create a vicious cycle in which your fears are realized. Making love with a loving, caring, committed partner prevents the worries and fears associated with the pressure to “perform well”. Relax and enjoy the beauty of your relationship and allow those fears to fall away. Talk to your doctor if anxiety is preventing you from enjoying normal activities including sex.
7. Relationship Issues
If you and your spouse have been at odds or if you harbor feelings of resentment or anger toward your lover, your sexual relationship may be negatively affected. Your body may not react in the desired way when your mind is festering with negative thoughts and emotions. Sincere and open communication in an atmosphere of love and respect can heal your relationship and pave the way to a healthy, satisfying sex life. Working to improve your relationship outside of the bedroom can do wonders to improve your relationship between the sheets.
6. Stress and Fatigue
Like any other aspect of your life, your sex life can be affected by stress, fatigue, and exhaustion. Your body requires nutrition, exercise, and sleep in order to keep you energetic, focused, and strong. Put in place outlets to relieve stress such as aerobic exercise, taking time to relax, and spending time doing fun activities with friends and family. Allow your body the time to repair cells, strengthen your immune system, and clear toxins by getting enough sleep. Set the stage for a restorative night of sleep by avoiding alcohol and heavy foods two hours before bedtime, dimming the lights, and participating in restful activities before bed.
Your mental health affects every other aspect of your physical being. If you suffer from depression, your sexual life may be affected. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America lists several signs and symptoms of depression. Signs of depression include feelings of sadness, bleakness, hopelessness, and guilt. A loss of interest in activities that usually bring satisfaction and joy is another symptom of depression. Difficulty sleeping, concentrating, and making decisions can indicate depression. Thoughts of suicide are severe signs of depression. Contact your doctor if feelings of depression are preventing you from participating in the normal activities of your daily life.
4. Sleep Disorders
Studies show that sleep apnea and erectile dysfunction are often coexisting problems for adult men over the age of 25. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the tissues or muscles of the throat relax at night to such an extent that they interrupt breathing. This can prevent adequate oxygen from reaching the brain. Signs of sleep apnea include snoring, waking up in the morning feeling exhausted, forgetfulness, and morning headaches. If your spouse complains that you snore, you may want to visit your doctor for a sleep test.
3. Heart Disease
Heart diseases such as atherosclerosis, high cholesterol, and blood pressure issues can result in circulation problems and decreased blood flow. Problems with blood flow can cause problems with achieving an erection. The American Heart Association lists erectile dysfunction as one symptom of heart disease. Make sure to check in with your doctor for regular physical exams and bloodwork that can alert you to heart disease. Keep your heart healthy through engaging in aerobic exercise, consuming a nutrient-rich diet, and maintaining a proper weight.
The American Diabetes Association recognizes the role diabetes may play in the development of erectile dysfunction. Diabetes can affect blood flow to the penis, interfering with sexual activity. It can also decrease the necessary muscle relaxation important for sexual function. Keeping diabetes under control through diet, exercise, and a healthy lifestyle will prevent erectile dysfunction caused by this disease. If your erectile dysfunction is related to diabetes, your doctor may prescribe medications to restore blood flow to the penis and improve your sex life.
While obesity doesn’t directly cause erectile dysfunction, the many negative health effects caused by obesity can interfere with sexual performance. Studies suggest that obesity is linked to erectile dysfunction due to its effects on blood pressure, cholesterol, atherosclerosis, and the increased risk of diabetes. Obesity can also contribute to erectile dysfunction through its effects on hormone balance. A negative self-image or the feelings of self-consciousness caused by obesity can also interfere with the ability to perform sexually. The CDC recommends maintaining a BMI of 18.5-24.9 for a healthy weight. An adult BMI calculator will help you determine your BMI using your height and weight.