4 Unexpected Causes of Erectile Dysfunction

Before you ask your doctor about medications, read through this list to see if any of these factors may be causing your ED.

1) Certain diseases

Typically, diseases that can cause inadequate blood flow or nerve damage are linked to erectile dysfunction. Here are some examples:

  • Endocrine diseases, like diabetes, can lead nerve damage or impaired blood flow that can cause ED symptoms.
  • Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and other neurological disorders that can disrupt communication between the brain and other organs may result in ED.
  • Cardiovascular conditions that lead to reduced blood flow, like high cholesterol and high blood pressure, can also lead to ED.

If you have any of the above conditions and are experiencing symptoms of ED, you may want to speak with your doctor about ways to resolve your ED safely.

2) Medication side effects

Medications can sometimes be a blessing and a curse—they can treat a problem and create a new one all at the same time. The following medications can affect blood flow, which may lead to erectile dysfunction.

  • Water pills or diuretics (e.g., spironolactone, furosemide)
  • Blood pressure drugs and heart medications (e.g., chlorothiazide, lisinopril, amlodipine, losartan)
  • Antidepressants (e.g., alprazolam, diazepam)
  • Antihistamines (e.g., Benadryl, Dramamine)
  • Parkinson’s medications (e.g., pramipexole, carbidopa/levodopa)
  • Opioids (e.g., morphine, oxycodone)

For more information on medications that can cause erectile dysfunction, read our post here.

3) Certain foods and drinks

The phrase ‘you are what you eat’ describes how your body responds to the foods that you ingest. In the case of ED, certain foods and drinks can directly cause ED, while others can lead to common diseases that then cause ED.

The following substances can cause erectile dysfunction:

  • Alcohol
  • Foods high in fats, which can lead to high cholesterol
  • Foods high in sodium, which can lead to high blood pressure

4) Smoking

Smoking is a leading cause of ED in the US. Toxic chemicals from the inhaled smoke can damage blood vessels and result in decreased blood flow to the penis. In fact, in 2014, the US Surgeon General added ED to the long list of conditions caused by smoking.

The only way to treat ED caused by smoking is to stop smoking. Studies have shown that stopping cigarette smoking can improve ED in a considerable amount of smokers.

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