Causes of Erectile Dysfunction

While aging is the most common cause of erectile dysfunction/impotence, it can be an indicator of and can be associated with other health problems. Therefore it is important to seek treatment as soon as possible.

Sexual Health Australia provides Sex Therapy and Counselling for men and/or their partners who are suffering from erection problems.

However, treating the erection difficulties alone will not solve the underlying medical condition, therefore it is of importance that any underlying problems are identified.

Erectile Dysfunction can be caused by:

  1. Psychological Issues
  2. Underlying Medical Conditions
  3. Pharmacotherapy
  4. Lifestyle Factors
  5. Female Partner's Sexual Functioning

Psychological Issues

Erectile DysfunctionThere is a strong connection between thoughts, feelings and emotions and erectile dysfunction. The brain is responsible for sending messages to the end of the spine, which are responsible for the blood flow to the penis.Therefore factors that distract the brain can have a major affect on erectile function. A common psychological cause is performance anxiety.

Psychosocial issues that affect erectile functioning are, for example:  

  • Depression
  • Psychiatric Disorders
  • Stress/Anxiety
  • Low self-esteem
  • Poor body image
  • Sexual attitudes and upbringing
  • Relationship problems
  • Employment and financial pressures
  • Performance Anxiety

Underlying medical condition

Underlying medical conditions or disease, can cause erectile dysfunction, which is also known as organic Erectile Dysfunction.  For example:  

  • Serious Health (metabolic) problems, such as:
    • Diabetes
    • High Blood Pressure
    • Obesity
    • Chronic renal failure
    • High Cholesterol
    • Sleep Apnoea
  • Neurogenic Causes, which interfere with nerve function, such as:
    • Multiple Sclerosis
    • Spinal cord trauma
    • Pelvic injury/surgery (prostate/bowel)
    • Peripheral neuropathy (alcohol and diabetes)
    • Alzheimer's Disease
    • Parkinson's Disease
  • Vascular causes, which has to do with reduced blood flow, such as:
    • Atherosclerosis (narrowing of the arteries) of pelvic blood vessels
  • Urological problems, such as:
    • Prostatitis
    • Peyronie's Disease
    • Prostate cancer
    • Pelvic trauma/surgery
  • Endocrine Disorders, which has to do with hormone secretion.Hormonal problems, such as low testosterone, high prolactin and thyroid disease, can affect erectile function, but this is quite rare.


Sometimes men experience erection problems when they start taking medication for other medical conditions. It is important not to stop taking drugs without first consulting a doctor. Erectile dysfunction can be caused by drugs used to treat:  

  • Blood Pressure
  • Cholesterol
  • Depression
  • Psychiatric Disorders
  • Prostate Cancer

Lifestyle Factors

Various lifestyle factors can have an influence on erectile functioning, such as: 

  • Alcohol
  • Smoking
  • Recreational Drug Abuse
  • Bad diets
  • Low exercise levels
  • Long distance/competitive bike riding (very rare)

Female Partner's Sexual Functioning

The sexual functioning of a female partner can have an influence on erectile functioning, such as:

  • Changes in Sex Drive/Libido
  • Changes in lubrication due to menopause


Sex therapy and Relationship Counselling is available in Sydney, New South Wales (NSW) -  Melbourne, Victoria (VIC) -  Adelaide, South Australia (SA) -  Perth, Western Australia (WA) - Darwin, Northern Territories (NT) -  Hobart, Tasmania (TAS) - Brisbane, Queensland (QLD) - Canberra, Australian Capital territory (ACT)


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