Can Stress and Anxiety Cause Erectile Dysfunction?

Can Stress and Anxiety Cause Erectile Dysfunction?

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  • How Common Is Erectile Dysfunction?

    How Common Is Erectile Dysfunction?

    It’s a delicate topic, one men are often not eager to discuss, but erectile dysfunction (ED) isn’t uncommon. In fact, more than 18 million American men are affected by ED. Some estimates suggest the actual number is almost double that.

    ED becomes more common as you age—and most men will experience it at some point—but long-term, or chronic ED isn’t normal. The good news: In most cases, the cause of your ED can be quickly identified and treated. Click through this slideshow to learn more about erectile dysfunction and how stress and anxiety can cause it.

  • What Is Erectile Dysfunction?

    What Is Erectile Dysfunction?

    Erectile dysfunction (ED), also called impotence, occurs when a man is unable to achieve or maintain an erection. This often prevents the man from having full sexual function.

    Many body systems are involved in male sexual arousal—the brain, nervous system, blood vessels, muscles, hormones, and emotions are all key to proper function. A problem in any part of the body can cause ED. In fact, many chronic diseases, such as heart disease, are first diagnosed after a man discusses his symptoms of erectile dysfunction with his doctor.

  • What Causes Erectile Dysfunction?

    What Causes Erectile Dysfunction?

    Several health and psychological conditions can cause or contribute to ED. These causes include:

    • partially- or fully-blocked blood vessels
    • nerve damage
    • high cholesterol
    • high blood pressure
    • heart disease
    • obesity
    • diabetes
    • low testosterone
    • metabolic syndrome
    • prostate cancer or enlarged prostate
    • damage to pelvic area
    • depression 

    Lifestyle issues that can contribute to ED include:

    • prescription medications
    • illicit drugs
    • tobacco use
    • excessive alcohol consumption
    • sedentary lifestyle
  • Can Stress and Anxiety Cause Erectile Dysfunction?

    Can Stress and Anxiety Cause Erectile Dysfunction?

    Stress, anxiety, and erectile dysfunction are closely connected. Stress and anxiety can cause ED. Plus, men facing increased stress or anxiety may also have increased blood pressure and cholesterol. Both of these conditions increase a man’s risk for ED.

    It’s important to understand that stress is the body’s response to life’s issues. Stress and anxiety can cause harm to your body. ED is just one of the many ways the damage manifests itself. Unfortunately, it’s a vicious cycle: ED can cause a man further stress and anxiety, which can cause additional ED issues.

  • What Causes Stress and Anxiety?

    What Causes Stress and Anxiety?

    Each person stresses about different things. Financial concerns may keep you up at night, but relationship problems may worry a friend. All stress affects the body negatively.

    The following are different life stressors that may cause anxiety, which can lead to ED:

    • job problems, loss, or stress
    • relationship problems and conflicts
    • illness or loss of a loved one
    • fear of aging
    • changes in health
    • financial burdens
  • Stress and Anxiety Affect More than Sexual Performance

    Stress and Anxiety Affect More than Sexual Performance

    Fears of experiencing ED may make you hesitant to engage in sexual activity, or they may discourage you from being intimate. This anxiety may eventually cause relationship problems with a loved one. You may find yourself becoming distant from your partner. You might feel less inclined to participate in sexual activity. You may also be hesitant to open up about your ED problems with your partner, which can cause additional stress and anxiety. Treatment can help end this cycle.

  • Ease Stress to End Erectile Dysfunction

    Ease Stress to End Erectile Dysfunction

    If you suspect that your stress and anxiety are contributing to your ED, you can attempt to treat it on your own. Identify major stressors in your life and ways that you can manage them. Plan ways to prevent worrying and stressing, and develop a plan to eliminate the stressors altogether.

    If you need professional help to do this, make an appointment with your general practitioner, a counselor, or a psychotherapist. These healthcare professionals can help you find a solution for your stress-induced ED.

  • Other Treatments for Erectile Dysfunction

    Other Treatments for Erectile Dysfunction

    ED is often a symptom and not a condition itself. If your doctor can diagnose what is causing your ED, he or she can treat it. Treating the cause should ease the ED.

    The most common treatments for ED include:

    • prescription medicine
    • injections
    • penis suppository
    • testosterone replacement
    • penis pump (vacuum erection device)
    • penile implant
    • blood vessel surgery

    Lifestyle treatments include:

    • sexual anxiety counseling
    • psychological counseling
    • reaching and maintaining a healthy weight
    • stopping tobacco use
    • reducing alcohol use
  • Your Doctor Can Help

    Your Doctor Can Help

    All too often, men are afraid or ashamed to admit they’re experiencing ED problems. However, the sooner you talk to your doctor, the sooner you’ll be able to return to normal sexual function.

    Finding a cause for your ED often helps your doctor identify and manage other health problems that you may be experiencing. Bring up your ED problems with your doctor, and use the discussion as an opportunity to talk about your overall health. Treatments for ED are often very successful, so there’s no reason to suffer in silence.