What Causes Erectile Dysfunction? How to Try to Prevent ED

Erectile dysfunction is a far more common condition than most people think, yet it is something that a lot of men feel hesitant to talk about or discuss until they may be experiencing it themselves. There are many times that even if you have a pre-existing condition, however, that erectile dysfunction may be preventable. In this article, we’ll take a brief look at the symptoms and causes of ED, as well as possible preventive measures for this condition. 


What is Erectile Dysfunction (ED)?

Erectile dysfunction or the abbreviation ED is the inability to gain and maintain an erection rigid enough to have sex.

Having trouble gaining an erection occasionally isn't necessarily a problem. If erectile dysfunction is a continuing issue, however, it can cause stress, affect your self-confidence and possibly lead to problems with sexual relationships. There may be other underlying health issues that may be contributing to problems getting or keeping an erection that should be investigated.  

Symptoms of Erectile Dysfunction

The main symptoms of erectile dysfunction are the following:

  • Difficulty gaining an erection
  • Problems maintaining an erection 
  • The loss of sex drive or libido

As mentioned above, there are times when these may occur naturally for a brief amount of time and this can be perfectly normal. If this persists for a long period of time or you are concerned, then you should start by seeing a doctor. Consider seeing a doctor especially if the following is applicable to you:

  • You have heart disease, diabetes, or other known preexisting health conditions that may be linked to erectile dysfunction issues.
  • You are worried about problems with your erections or you've been experiencing other sexual difficulties (e.g. premature or delayed ejaculation).

Causes of Erectile Dysfunction

There can be many more serious causes of erectile dysfunction. We’ll cover some of the most common below.  

Heart Disease

It has been shown in studies that there is a strong link between erectile dysfunction and heart disease. Many studies have shown that if a man has erectile dysfunction issues that he has a higher risk of having heart disease. Experiencing ED can also be an early warning sign of potential heart issues in the future.

High Cholesterol / Blood Pressure

High levels of LDL cholesterol can contribute to the narrowing of passageways inside your arteries and limit the flow of blood to the heart, and to the penis. Similarly, high blood pressure can cause damage to your artery walls, making them harden and narrow which reduces the blood flow to the penis. Both of these can end up causing potential erectile dysfunction problems.

Alcohol or Other Substance Abuse

Alcohol consumption can sometimes cause symptoms of ED. Alcohol affects areas of the body responsible for creating an erection. It lowers testosterone levels and may cause damage preventing you from getting or maintaining an erection. 

There are also ties to drug abuse and ED  and more importantly, they can extend to even prescription medication. If you’re concerned that the medication you’re taking could be causing erectile issues, you should speak to a doctor to examine further. 


It can be common for men who have diabetes, especially type 2 diabetes, to have issues with erectile dysfunction. This can come from damage to the nerves and blood vessels that are caused by ineffectual long-term blood sugar control. Diabetes can also cause lower levels of testosterone which, as mentioned, can potentially result in erectile dysfunction.


Obesity can increase your risk of developing several diseases or conditions, this can include erectile dysfunction. Men who are in the overweight or obese weight categories tend to have a higher risk of developing any of the aforementioned health issues. All of these can contribute to or cause ED on their own, however, when combined with obesity, the chances you’ll experience erectile problems greatly increases.

Prevention of Erectile Dysfunction

There are plenty of ways you can help to prevent erectile dysfunction from becoming an issue, even if you have underlying conditions. These mostly include ensuring you are cautious of the effects of everyday lifestyle choices, and where possible, try to have a balanced diet, get some exercise and give up any damaging substances such as smoking or excessive alcohol consumption.

It’s important to remember that ED is a much more common condition than you’d think, just that it’s not often openly discussed. If you lead a generally healthy lifestyle and try to be mindful of the possible causes, you can increase your chances of preventing experiencing erectile dysfunction drastically. 

Featured Contents