Who is at Risk for Erectile Dysfunction

The Most Common Risk Factors for Erectile Dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction is a surprisingly common problem, even though many men don’t like to talk about it. While it’s normal to occasionally have difficulty getting an erection, men who have trouble maintaining an erection at least 25% of the time are considered to have erectile dysfunction. Sometimes this condition is caused by psychological factors such as anxiety, but more often, health and lifestyle play a role. This article lists a few of the most common risk factors for ED.

Health problems

Erectile dysfunction is now mainly considered a health problem, not a psychological problem. Illnesses and other health issues cause up to 85% of cases of erectile dysfunction. The following conditions all raise a man’s risk of developing ED.

Heart disease: High blood pressure, atherosclerosis (hardening of the blood vessel walls), and high cholesterol can all contribute to ED. In fact, a man who develops erectile dysfunction with no apparent cause should see his doctor, as he may be at risk for having a stroke or heart attack.

Diabetes: Uncontrolled blood sugar is another risk factor for ED.

Weight problems: Men who are overweight or obese are more likely to develop erectile dysfunction. Higher weights are correlated with greater risk.

Neurological conditions: Neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s disease can damage the systems of the body necessary for maintaining an erection, causing ED.

Injuries: Spine injuries and injuries that damage the nerves can both contribute to the development of erectile dysfunction.


A number of medications can increase a man’s risk for developing erectile dysfunction. Heart patients are at particularly high risk, as a number of medications that treat high blood pressure and high cholesterol can also cause problems maintaining an erection. Antidepressants and anti-psychotics can also cause ED. Other medications that increase a man’s risk include hormone drugs, antihistamines, GERD (gastroesophagelal reflux disorder) drugs, and some painkillers.

Psychological Factors

Though psychological factors are no longer considered the main causes of erectile dysfunction, they can still play a big role in the development of the condition. Men who are struggling with mental health problems like anxiety, depression, and stress are more likely to have trouble maintaining an erection. Erectile dysfunction can also be a sign of trouble in a man’s relationship. Someone who feels negative or conflicted about his partner, or who fears his partner is judging him negatively, will have a harder time getting and maintaining an erection.


The older a man gets, the more likely he is to have erectile dysfunction. The condition is most common in men over the age of 75. However, getting older doesn’t have to mean developing ED. Most men who develop ED as they age also have health problems or lifestyle factors that contribute to the development of the condition.


Lifestyle factors play a major role in whether a man develops erectile dysfunction at any age. Generally, the healthier a man is, the less likely he is to have problems with ED. On the other hand, unhealthy lifestyle choices can raise the risk dramatically. Smoking, heavy drinking, and illicit drug use can all make ED more likely. A sedentary lifestyle may also play a role in the development of erectile dysfunction.

There are many reasons why men get erectile dysfunction. Fortunately, many of the risk factors are controllable. Men who maintain a balanced, active lifestyle and avoid stress can reduce their risk of ED dramatically and enjoy a healthy sex life as they get older.

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