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A man’s ability to achieve and maintain an erection is an extremely complex process. Problems that cause erectile dysfunction can vary. Causes of erectile dysfunction can be physical, psychological or a mixture of the two.
Erectile dysfunction is a fairly common occurrence among men, though it is seldom talked about and therefore, at times it is not treated. It is estimated that nearly half of all men will experience some degree of erectile dysfunction in their lifetime. Approximately 5 percent of men in their forties experience erectile dysfunction and nearly 20 percent of men aged 65 to 70 experience erectile dysfunction. Erectile dysfunction can have various causes and is generally considered to be a treatable condition.
 

Physical Causes

In many instances, erectile dysfunction is caused by a physical factor. Physical problems that cause erectile dysfunction lead to the sequence of events that are necessary to attain an erection to breakdown. This process involves the nerve endings in many areas of the body, including the brain, spine and penis. These nerve endings require responses from muscle tissue, veins and arteries that run down the length of the penis. This interruption in the process of an erection is often the result of a disease.

Diseases that cause erectile dysfunction include diabetes, which can cause damage to arteries and nerves making it difficult to attain an erection, heart disease, clogged blood vessels, high blood pressure, obesity, kidney disease which can cause chemical changes in the body; neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer’s, stroke and spinal cord injury which causes a break in the nerve transmission from the brain to the penis. Other Physical conditions that can contribute to erectile dysfunction can include prostate cancer, surgery to the pelvic area or spinal cord, injury to the area, hormonal imbalance, enlarged prostate, low testosterone and side effects of prescription drugs.
 

Psychological Causes

Because the brain plays an integral part in the events leading up to an erection, there are some psychological factors that can increase erectile dysfunction. These psychological factors can interfere with the feelings related to sexual arousal, causing or worsening the problem. Psychological factors that influence erectile dysfunction include depression, anxiety, stress and difficulties within the relationship such as poor communication and stress. Even if the erectile dysfunction is caused by a physical problem, it can develop into a psychological issue resulting in depression or anxiety and low self-esteem. This is true for both the man suffering with erectile dysfunction and his partner. It may be essential for the couple to undergo marriage counseling or sex therapy to cope. It is important to be patient and remember that communication during this time is very important in the treatment process.

Risk Factors

In certain cases, as a man ages, it may be increasingly difficult to achieve and maintain an erection. This may require the penis to be consistently manipulated to keep the erection going.  Generally, this problem is not directly related to getting older but rather the result of an underlying medical condition or the reaction to a particular medication. There are several risk factors that may contribute to erectile dysfunction including: health problems such as diabetes and heart problems, smoking which can constrict arteries and decrease blood flow, obesity, radiation therapy, nerve damage, certain medications such as antidepressants or pain killers, stress, anxiety and depression, drug or alcohol abuse and extended bicycling which can constrict nerves decreasing blood flow to the penis.

Erectile dysfunction is a common occurrence among men, though it can be something that is not talked about and may go untreated. The truth is that there are several medical and natural treatments for erectile dysfunction available depending upon the cause of the erectile dysfunction. The best way to prevent erectile dysfunction from occurring is to make wise lifestyle choices and to treat and manage any current health problems.