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Erectile Dysfunction : Causes, Treatment, How Common Is It, Can Young Men Suffer From Erectile Dysfunction

Infertility is on the rise these days and a huge number of people seek treatment for it. The reasons for infertility are varied ranging from female to male factors, while some couples have problems with both the partners; and for some others, the reasons could not be explained. Lack of sexual desire or arousal problems could also lead to infertility problems. Erectile Dysfunction is another very common male factor, which contributes to infertility issues.

What is Erectile Dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction is a type of sexual dysfunction where a man is unable to achieve or sustain erection of the penis during a sexual arousal. The penile erection happens due to the rapid increased flow of blood to the penis and as a result of the erection, the venous system gets compressed reducing the flow to blood outside the organ which helps in sustaining the erection.

What are the Causes of Erectile Dysfunction?

Sexual arousal in a man involves a number of mechanisms to be followed simultaneously. Although the process of erection appears to be very simple, it is indeed an extremely complicated process involving a number of complex systems like the Central Nervous System, the Peripheral Nervous System, Psychological and factors related to stress, hormonal and vascular elements and lastly the genitals itself. A slight abnormality in any one of these could lead to the condition of Erectile Dysfunction. Thus, the causes of erectile dysfunction are divided into two clusters, which work separately yet influence each other:

Organic or Physical Factors Causing Erectile Dysfunction

Erectile Dysfunction is mostly caused by physical factors which include: diabetes; heart diseases; hypertension; hypercholesterolemia; metabolic syndrome and obesity; multiple sclerosis; Parkinson’s disease; certain prescription medications; treatments for or taking medicines for enlarged prostate and prostate cancer; Peyronie’s disease; sleep disorders; injuries or surgeries in and around the pelvic area and lower back or spinal cord; use of tobacco; alcohol usage and all substance use disorders; hormonal imbalances; other or past sexual problems; sexual abuse in the past and cycling.

Psychological Factors Causing Erectile Dysfunction

These include: depression; anxiety; stress; trauma; performance anxiety; lack of sexual knowledge; death of a spouse; relationship problems; guilt, child being ill; fear of intimacy; fear of erectile dysfunction; low self confidence; unrecognized homosexuality and financial problems

How Common is Erectile Dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction is as common as occurring in more than 30 million men alone in the United States of America. About 47% of them are above the age of 75, as erectile dysfunction or ED is commonly associated with growing age. But according to the estimates of The National Institutes of Health, about 5% men within the age of 20 to 39 years, have erectile dysfunction due to lifestyle related causes and others. In fact, as per the July 2013 reports of Journal of Sexual Medicine, it was found that 26% adult men, who were below the age of 40, had ED or erectile dysfunction.

Can Young Men Suffer from Erectile Dysfunction? Why?

Although erectile dysfunction or ED is mostly associated with old age, it is seen to occur in young men also. Lifestyle plays a major role in causing erectile dysfunction in young men. But there are also reasons such as hormonal imbalance in young men as they take steroids and other hormonal supplements to build muscles for causing erectile dysfunction. Increased levels of prolactin and thyroid in young men can also be a cause of ED or erectile dysfunction in young men.

How to Treat Erectile Dysfunction?

How to Treat Erectile Dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction is not a disease, but a dysfunction of the penile, hormonal, physical and other factors. Treating the cause of erectile dysfunction will result in sustained erection. Given below are some methods for treating erectile dysfunction:

Make Lifestyle Changes to Treat Erectile Dysfunction

This is probably the most crucial factor that causes erectile dysfunction and hence, when starting a treatment procedure for ED, one should always focus on this. As excessive alcohol consumption and smoking causes erectile dysfunction to a great extent, a person suffering from erectile dysfunction must get rid of these bad habits. Along with stopping to smoke and curbing the intake of alcohol, exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy diet to make sure that the weight is under control will help a lot in treating erectile dysfunction. Getting enough sleep will help you to get rid of the stress and trauma and help you to boost your confidence and energy and thus get rid of erectile dysfunction.

Treating Underlying Diseases for Treatment of ED

As heart diseases, diabetes, Parkinson’s and many other diseases are common causes of erectile dysfunction, treating ED needs treatment of these associated underlying diseases first. It is a common fact that treating underlying diseases or problems will ensure that erectile dysfunction is automatically treated.

Oral Medications for Treatment of Erectile Dysfunction

The reason why erectile dysfunction occurs is because there is not enough blood flow in the penis to hold it erect for a period of time needed to participate in intercourse. Hence, medications are given orally to make sure that blood flow is proper. Amongst oral medicines, the common ones prescribed for treatment of erectile dysfunction are: Tadalafil or Cialis, Sildenafil or Viagra, Avanafil or Stendra and Vardenafil or Levitra and Staxyn.

Where oral medicines for treating erectile dysfunction are concerned, phosphodiesterase-5 (PDE5) inhibitors are largely used. This is because it inhibits the action of PDE5 enzyme that interferes with the action of Nitric Oxide or NO. Nitric Oxide is very important in maintaining the erection since it increases the blood flow in penis by opening up the blood vessels. Hence, using PDE5 inhibitors for erectile dysfunction treatment ensures that the blood flow is regular and not interrupted.

Other Medications for Treating ED

Apart from the above mentioned medicines, there are other medicines that you can take for treating erectile dysfunction. These include the erection-inducing injection, intra-cavernosal injection or the Alprostadil and other self-injections that are injected on the side of the penis by yourself. The penile injections include alprostadil, papaverine, and phentolamine. As the injection needle is extremely thin, it does not induce recognizable pain and the erection lasts for about an hour.

There is also the Muse therapy for treating erectile dysfunction in which a tiny alprostadil suppository is placed inside the penile urethra. As the process involves the insertion of the suppository inside the penis, it sometimes causes pain and bleeding. However, the erection from this ED treatment lasts for about 30 minutes.

Penile Pumps for Erectile Dysfunction

A vacuum erection device or a battery-powered pump or a hand-powered hollow tube is used to suck out the air from the tube, into the pump. This helps to increase the blood flow to the penis. As the erection occurs, a tension ring is placed at the base of the penis to hold the blood and erection and the pump is removed. The erection typically lasts for the period of time you want to engage yourself in sexual intercourse and after having sex, you can remove the tension ring. Sometimes, the penis experiences bruising due to lack of continuous blood flow to the penis and the penis also becomes cold to touch.

Penile Implant for Treatment of Erectile Dysfunction

Penile implant is one of the least practiced and recommended treatment procedures for erectile dysfunction and is done only when all other methods for treating ED have failed. In penile implant, through surgery, two semi-rigid rods are inserted on both the sides of the penis that can keep the penis erect as long as you want, although the penis still stays bendable. This is suitable for only those men who do not have sex regularly. However, the inflatable rods have two to three inflated parts that help to give a more natural erection and hence, it is recommended as a better option than the previous one.

Surgery for Treating Erectile Dysfunction

Those, who have had severe accidents and have injured their pelvic region resulting in erectile dysfunction, need to undergo proper surgical methods to have the damage repaired. In case of those who have penile drawback due to some other reasons or have bent penis can choose surgeries to have it treated to treat their erectile dysfunction.

Hormone Therapies for Erectile Dysfunction

Sometimes, hormones are also given as therapies for those who have ED due to imbalanced hormones.

Psychological Treatment for Erectile Dysfunction

If the cause of ED is psychological, then the patient must visit a counselor, who will help him to have the problems diagnosed and support and assist him to cater to them. Not only this, in case of any fear and previous failure, the wife or partner also must have the mental stability to support her male partner and help him regain his lost self-confidence. Making the atmosphere and mood inside the bedroom is a responsibility of the wife or female partner also, to make sure that the erectile dysfunction caused by psychological causes does not remain for long.

A good counselor will also help you to get rid of the fear and also learn the better poses of sexual intercourse and make the entire process of sex an enjoyable and not a fearful one. Through a cognitive counseling therapy, the patient will be helped to realize that the trouble of erectile dysfunction is the mindset and not a physical one. Erectile Dysfunctions due to performance anxiety is very well treated by counseling and therapies.


ED or erectile dysfunction is not a disease and may occur due to any of the already mentioned causes. Moreover, having erectile dysfunction is not the end of a happy sexual life. With proper diagnosis and proper treatment, erectile dysfunction can be effectively treated.


  1. Mayo Clinic – Erectile Dysfunction: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/erectile-dysfunction/symptoms-causes/syc-20355776
  2. WebMD – Erectile Dysfunction: https://www.webmd.com/erectile-dysfunction/what-is-ed
  3. Cleveland Clinic – Erectile Dysfunction: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/10048-erectile-dysfunction

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 4, 2023

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