The Top Warning Signs of Erectile Dysfunction

Yes, it is true that a person doesn’t actually need sex to stay alive. Isn’t this notion equivalent to a falling brick from the third floor? Shocking but true. A person can actually function without any hindrances in the other facets of his life.[1] This is probably the main reason why Erectile Dysfunction or ED is considered as a disorder and not a disease. 

However, if you do the research, you would find that medical experts have a slightly different opinion regarding your inability to stay firm and erect at the “opportune” moment.

Why does Erectile Dysfunction Happen?

Erectile dysfunctions have been seen more common among ageing men, particularly after the age of 50. There is a mistaken notion that increasing age leads to ED. It is rather the other factors which lead to an ED.[2] Physiological science states that the improper blood circulation is the main reason behind an ED.

The heart pumps Oxygen-Rich blood throughout the body- through the arteries. A penis gets erect or firm due to blood moving into the erectile muscle tissues when in an excited state. The cavernosal artery passes this blood from the heart- increasing both the length and diameter of the engorged erectile tissues. ED is caused when this cycle gets disrupted somehow.

Do You Have ED?

It is easy to check whether you are suffering from ED or not. Do not feel ashamed- ED is easily curable and there are several medications like Viagra(Sildenafil citrate) or Cialis (Tadalafil) in the market. But first, you need to make sure that you have an ED. The case may be due to a disturbed state of mind- stress, tension,  mood swings and or some other reasons. In such instances- your functioning returns to normal as soon as your mindset has improved.[3]

In the event that you actually have a case of ED, medical personnel indicate that the usual causing factors on an ED are- high blood pressure, high levels of cholesterol, obesity, diabetes, smoking, heavy alcohol consumption, drug/steroid use and long-term psychological stress( even trauma). Penile injuries and any sort of heart diseases(strokes, coronary diseases like atherosclerosis etc.) also increase the chances of having an ED issue rapidly.

Here are some of the indicators that a person may be suffering from erectile dysfunction.

Heart Problems

According to Ira Nash, MD,  spokesman of the AHA(American Heart Association)- Some of the drugs used to treat cardiovascular problems do have the potential to cause an ED. Medicines used to treat hypertension and depression can also induce erectile dysfunction. Many doctors recommend checking in with a cardiologist or at least having a cardiac evaluation for patients complaining of ED.[4] There is a high probability of cardiac issues among the patients in the background.

Low Testosterone Count

Low testosterone count is one of the driving factors behind an ED, other than having a poor blood flow. Secreted from Leydig cells in the testes(a minute portion is also secreted by the adrenal glands)- the male sex hormone is a stimulant. It is responsible for the growth of male characteristics.

Measuring the levels of testosterone in the male’s body is one of the primary tests ordered by physicians. It is a mandatory step in the diagnosis of Erectile Dysfunction according to Glenn Cunningham, a professor at Baylor College of Medicine, Houston.

A variety of factors may result in low production of testosterone levels- with ageing being one of the most common.[5] Dr Cunningham reports that the testosterone deficiency occurs with a greater frequency among older persons. Scientists are not sure of the reason why though.

The others include improper functioning of the pituitary gland, problems related to the thyroid glands and liver. [6]The pituitary gland or the master gland of the human body is responsible for the production of testosterone, thyroid, adrenaline and many more. It releases various stimulating hormones, among others. Another likely cause of low levels of testosterone production is problems within the abnormalities in the testes itself.

Anabolic steroids- often abused by athletes and bodybuilders- can decrease the size of your testes, lowering the levels of testosterone production.[7] TIn severe cases- it may render a person impotent, or sterile.

Low levels of testosterone can be treated with testosterone replacement therapy.

Improper functioning of the Nervous system (Missed stimulus)

ED can result due to nerve problems. An erection occurs after the brain signals for blood flow into the penis, in response to a stimulus(arousal or excitement). If the signal path is disrupted, a person may suffer from erectile dysfunction.

Nerve problems are common among patients suffering from type 2 diabetes. Uncontrollable levels of sugar in the blood results in nerve damage(Neuropathy). While usually affecting the hands and feet, diabetes can affect nerves around the genital region too. About half of the people suffering from diabetes suffer nerve-related problems.

It is a widespread global disease and combined with complications like high blood pressure, obesity and old-age- it may significantly increase the chances of having an erectile dysfunction. Conversely, an ageing person with Erectile Dysfunction should check his blood sugar levels.

In addition to diabetes, there are other diseases that may cause damage to the nerve- resulting in failure to get an erection.[8] A large number of HIV-AIDS patients have erectile dysfunction- with both the Human Immunodeficiency Virus and the antiviral drugs responsible for causing neuropathy. Spinal cord injuries and multiple sclerosis can also cause ED- both being diseases of the nervous system.

Alcohol and drugs like barbiturates, opioids, cannabinoids are known to be depressants. They render the nervous system ineffective- by slowing the response system. A long time heavy drinker or drug-abuser is likely to report ED.[9]

Psychological Issues

A lot of times, Erectile Dysfunction is caused due to psychological factors. The factors may be various- ranging from daily stress, tension, trauma, performance anxiety and other possible reasons. An interesting thing to note is that the person may have an adequate erection- but not according to his wishes, or arousal.

The “Nocturnal Tumescence” test is used to decide whether an ED is occurring due to physical or psychological reasons.[10] A thin piece of paper or tape is wrapped around the flaccid penis-before going to bed at night.

A broken strip on the next morning indicates that the reason is a psychological one. An erection had occurred at night during sleep. Consult a specialist if such be the case.


It is better suggested to visit a doctor if you are suffering from an ED. It is true that there are several medications available both over-the-counter and on the internet.

Medications like Viagra, Cialis and Levitra are relatively safe to use proven to yield desirable results.

However, the main reason is this- ED is the likely indicator to several diseases- especially of the heart, nervous system or diabetes. A medical practitioner may suggest running some tests- but it is more beneficial in the long run. As they say- prevention is better than cure.


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[4]  NIH Consensus Conference. Impotence. NIH Consensus Development Panel on Impotence. JAMA. 1993;270(1):83–90. No Authors. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

[5] Selvin E, Burnett AL, Platz EA. Prevalence and risk factors for erectile dysfunction in the US. Am J Med. 2007;120(2):151–7. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]



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