Erections occur in response to physical or emotional stimulation. When a man becomes aroused, the brain sends signals to the nerves causing the muscles of the penis to relax. When the muscles relax, blood flows into the penis, which causes it to expand.
It’s not unusual for men to sometimes have problems getting or keeping an erection, but if the problem persists, there may be an underlying cause.
Diseases, medical conditions, or lifestyle issues that affect the brain, the nerves, or blood flow to the penis can lead to erectile dysfunction. Impotence is sometimes also caused by psychological issues, such as performance anxiety, stress, or depression.
Diseases that can cause erectile dysfunction:
Medical conditions that can cause erectile dysfunction:
- Low testosterone
- Enlarged prostate
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis)
- Metabolic syndrome
- Venous leak
Lifestyle issues that can cause erectile dysfunction:
- Tobacco use
- Alcohol use
- Drug use
Other issues that can cause erectile dysfunction:
- Prostate cancer treatments (radiation therapy, chemotherapy)
- Certain surgeries (e.g., surgery of the prostate, bladder, colon, or rectum)
- Injuries to the spinal cord, penis, bladder, prostate, or other areas of the pelvis
- Prescription drugs
- Psychological issues
You will not be diagnosed with erectile dysfunction until it has been determined that you have an ongoing problem obtaining or maintaining an erection. You will need to provide a medical history and be given a complete physical exam, including an examination or your penis, testes, nerves to the penis, and prostate. You will also be asked some questions that may be uncomfortable or embarrassing. However, you need to give honest answers so that Dr. Jones can determine what’s causing your erectile dysfunction. You may also be given a blood test, a urine test, and/or other ED tests (e.g., ultrasound, overnight erection test).
Once it has been determined what is causing your impotence, Dr. Jones will discuss your treatment options with you. Treatments for erectile dysfunction may include:
- Oral medications (e.g., Viagra, Cialis, Levitra)
- Penile injection therapy
- Psychological counseling
- Intraurethral suppositories (MUSE)
- ED Pumps
- Blood vessel surgery
- Penile implant surgery
For more information on ED causes, contact Dr. Leroy Jones, urologist, of San Antonio.