The causes of ED (erectile dysfunction) are important to understand, since almost all cases of ED are treatable once you understand the cause. Younger men in their 20s, 30s and 40s are often surprised when they experience ED, but it’s actually quite common.
Erectile dysfunction is a disorder in which a man experiences difficulty achieving or maintaining an erection for coitus. A man’s nerves, muscles, brain, and hormones are meant to work in conjunction with his circulation system to get an erection. Arteries and veins carry blood to and from the erectile tissue of the penis.
It is common to associate erectile dysfunction with aging, but according to research, ED is common in young men and can also be a sign of puberty-related hormonal fluctuations. Numerous factors can cause this condition, but the erectile dysfunction young men experience differs from older men due to their life stages.
Causes of ED
The causes of ED tend to be different for younger men compared to older men. Sometimes, the cause is psychological, and other times the cause is related to an underlying health condition such as a hormonal imbalance. Below are some of the causes of ED in younger men:
Low Testosterone Levels
The pituitary gland is a small endocrine gland that releases several hormones. One of them is called luteinizing hormone (LH), which stimulates the Leydig cells in the testes to manufacture testosterone, and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), which stimulates sperm production on the Sertoli cells of the testes. In hyperprolactinemia or elevated prolactin levels, LH and FSH production is suppressed, resulting in low testosterone levels, causing erectile dysfunction.
Thyroid hormones play an essential role in the ability to achieve and maintain an erection, so if this level is off-balance, it can cause ED. An underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) can result in erectile dysfunction. Prolonged use of anabolic steroids like testosterone and growth hormone are also a potential side effect of impairing sexual function and fertility.
Using steroids to help build muscle mass may lead to hormonal imbalance, putting men at risk for erectile dysfunction. While they may benefit from an increase in self-assurance and feel more attractive, their increasing difficulty in achieving a firm erection may cause concern.
Smoking can affect the blood vessels in a man’s penis, preventing them from filling with blood and causing an erection. Smoking affects the blood vessels connected to the heart when consumed, but short-term smoking may also cause long-term damage, causing impotence or impeding men from attaining erections.
You may want to warm up with a few drinks, but drinking too much alcohol can cause temporary erectile dysfunction. Heavy alcohol use can interfere with your sex life, as it is a depressant that makes people relax and less focused on their partners. If you have one too many drinks and decide to have sex, the effects may be more disturbing than you anticipated.
For a man to get an erection, he needs healthy blood vessels, nerves, male hormones, and a desire to be sexually stimulated. Men with diabetes sometimes suffer from dysfunction of the blood vessels, muscle dysfunction and impaired nerves. Thus, it may still be challenging to achieve a firm erection if you have diabetes, as it can damage the blood vessels and nerves that control erections. Even if you have the desire to have sex and have normal levels of testosterone, you may not be able to stable erections.
Anxiety, Depression and Other Psychological Reasons
The causes of ED are often psychological (mental) and not physical. Getting erections is all about sexual excitement, and a lack of such feeling can cause erectile dysfunction. Depression and anxiety make it difficult for some people to feel aroused, which is the first step in getting an erection. If you are depressed or anxious, your sex drive could be lower.
Many people who are depressed feel more numb rather than excited.
Depression often leads to withdrawal from enjoyable activities and might even cause the struggling individual to want to avoid sexual encounters. A stressful job, money problems, or relationship problems can exacerbate erectile dysfunction. Additionally, the issues you’re having with your current partner may affect your sexual health, resulting in increased ED levels.
Medication Side Effects
If you’re curious about the potential causes of ED, you may want to speak to your pharmacist. Any medication you’re taking may have side effects, your pharmacist can go over them with you. Some medications (especially recreational drugs) can have side effects such as erectile dysfunction. Each case is different, depending on the underlying problem. The problem may be caused by a medication or as a result of stopping or changing drugs. For example, some hypertension drugs, including Bethanidine and antipsychotic medicines such as Desipramine (Norpramin) and Diazepam (Valium) can contribute to ED problems.
Treatments for ED
A variety of ED treatments are used to provide relief from the condition. However, what will work best for each person differs depending on the severity of their condition and the cause of their dysfunction. Doctors often prescribe different approaches, but finding a treatment that works for you is possible. In some cases, lifestyle changes or counseling may be enough to treat the disease, while others may require additional medications or even surgery.
If your doctor suspects that your ED is related to another underlying medical condition, they will first address that condition. For example, if you are unable to perform during sex due to diabetes or high blood pressure, your doctor might prescribe medications that better manage these conditions. They may also suggest lifestyle changes for handling those conditions, like quitting smoking or adding exercise to your routine.
Similarly, if the causes of ED for you happen to be something to do with your hormone levels, addressing this issue may help.
The idea of ED in younger men being related to weight has been radically revised over the past few years. While it is true that some overweight or obese men may experience sexual dysfunction, this was not true for all young men. A healthy lifestyle can help enhance the quality of your erections and benefit your overall health. Preventing obesity may boost testosterone levels and reduce the likelihood of complications.
Men with erectile dysfunction who consider prescription drugs should first speak to their physician about the most effective treatment options. Their doctor might prescribe a PDE5 inhibitor such as sildenafil (Viagra), tadalafil (Cialis), vardenafil (Levitra) and avanafil (Stendra). These medications work by relaxing the smooth muscles of the blood vessels in the penis and increasing blood flow, which can help men achieve an erection that is more firm and lasts longer.
Some people experience stress, anxiety, depression, or personal relationship issues that interfere with their sex lives. They may need help dealing with their and their partner’s thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. This might include one-on-one counseling, couples counseling, self-help programs, or sex therapy. There isn’t a single best treatment for everyone. Sometimes more than one treatment works best.
Someone experiencing sexual problems such as ED may discuss the issue with their doctor and undergo laboratory tests to rule out underlying physical causes. In some cases, professional treatments help most when paired with self-care strategies that a person can do on their own.
The Bottom Line
A combination of different treatments that address the factors contributing to erectile dysfunction can help people manage their ED symptoms. An evaluation by a healthcare professional is vital to understand your condition and find the best treatment for you.