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Conditions: Erectile Dysfunction

Health Problems - Erectile Dysfunction

What health problems are associated with ED?

Impaired blood flow, either to or from the penis, is the most common cause of ED. Various diseases, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), can affect the flow of blood. In fact, atherosclerosis causes roughly 40% of ED in men older than 50 years.

Diseases affecting the nervous system can interfere with the body's ability to process sexual stimulation signals, also causing ED. Nerve damage from strokes or spinal injuries, and other neurological disorders, like multiple sclerosis and Parkinson's, change the brain's ability to respond to sexual stimulation, potentially preventing an erection.

Diabetes is a disease that affects both the vascular and nervous systems. Approximately 50% of diabetic patients, irrespective of type, have ED.

ED can also result from a fractured or crushed pelvis that leaves the man's nerves or arteries damaged, inhibiting the flow of blood to the penis.

Likewise, some types of pelvic surgeries and radiation therapies, such as those used in the treatment of prostate, bladder or rectal cancer, can cause ED.

Endocrine disorders such as low levels of testosterone, or thyroid or pituitary gland problems, can also cause a hormone imbalance and erectile problems.

Diseases such as Peyronie's disease, an inflammatory condition that produces scarring within the penis, causing it to curve or bend, can also contribute to ED.

Sometimes, medications taken to treat illnesses are behind ED. Blood pressure therapies like beta-blockers, some heart medications, some peptic ulcer medications, sleeping pills, and antidepressants fall into this classification.

Lifestyle choices may also contribute. Alcohol or other drug abuse, a poor diet and smoking may be associated with vascular disease, hardening of the arteries and high blood pressure--all of which are, in turn, associated with ED.

Other chronic-disease states associated with ED include: chronic renal failure; hepatic failure; Alzheimer's disease; sleep apnea; and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Very often, a combination of several factors causes ED. As the number of risk factors or conditions often leading to ED increase, the man's risk of ED rises correspondingly.

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