what is the main cause of erectile dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction (ED), sometimes referred to as impotence, is when a man has trouble getting or keeping an erection firm enough for sex. It’s a more common issue than you might think, affecting millions of men around the world.

While occasional trouble downstairs is normal, persistent ED can be a sign of an underlying health condition. If you’re experiencing ED, it’s important to address it for your overall health and well-being.

At Capstone Medical Centre in Southbank, we understand how ED can impact your life. Our experienced doctors specialise in men’s health, including diagnosing and treating ED. We offer confidential consultations and personalised treatment plans to help you get back to a healthy and fulfilling sex life.

What is Erectile Dysfunction (ED)?

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a common condition where a man has trouble getting or keeping an erection firm enough for sexual intercourse. Think of an erection like a hydraulic system. When you’re aroused, blood flows into your penis, filling two chambers and making it firm. Normally, after ejaculation or when the stimulation stops, the blood flows out, causing the erection to go away.

It’s important to remember that occasional trouble getting or keeping an erection is normal. Stress, fatigue, or even a few drinks can affect your performance. However, if you’re having trouble more often than not, that’s a sign of ED, and it’s a good idea to talk to a doctor.

When ED Gets in the Way

If blood flow or the nerves that control erections are disrupted, this system can malfunction. Various physical or psychological factors can cause this.

There are two main types of ED:

  • Primary ED: This means you’ve never been able to get or keep an erection consistently.
  • Secondary ED: This means you used to be able to have normal erections, but now you’re having trouble.

Symptoms of Erectile Dysfunction (ED)

Erectile dysfunction (ED) can show up in a few different ways. Here are the main signs to watch for:

  • Trouble Getting an Erection: This can be the complete inability to get an erection, or it might be difficult to get one firm enough for sex.
  • Trouble Keeping an Erection: You might be able to get an erection at first, but you lose it before you can finish sex.
  • Reduced Sexual Desire: In some cases, ED can also affect your overall sex drive.

Not Every Case is the Same

The severity of these symptoms can vary from person to person. Some men might experience all of these issues, while others might only have one or two. The severity can also change over time. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, especially if it’s happening frequently, it’s important to visit a men’s health clinic.

Might be interested: What is Sexual Dysfunction? Understanding Sexual Difficulties

What’s Causing Your ED? 

A mix of physical and mental factors can cause erectile dysfunction (ED). Let’s break them down:

Physical Issues:

  • Blood Flow Blockers: Conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure, and clogged arteries can restrict blood flow to the penis, making it difficult to get or keep an erection.
  • Nerve Problems: Diabetes and other conditions can damage nerves, affecting the signals needed for an erection.
  • Hormonal Imbalance: Low testosterone levels can affect sex drive and erectile function.
  • Other Physical Causes: Injuries to the penis, pelvic area surgery, and certain medications can also contribute to ED.

Mental and Emotional Factors:

  • Stress and Anxiety: Feeling stressed, worried, or anxious can definitely affect your mood and mess with your downstairs performance.
  • Depression: Depression can lower your sex drive and make it harder to get aroused.
  • Relationship Problems: Issues in your relationship can lead to performance anxiety and impact your ability to get or keep an erection.

Your mind and body are connected. Stress, anxiety, and depression can all affect your hormones and blood flow, making it harder to get an erection. Likewise, if you’re having trouble with ED, it can lead to frustration and worsen anxiety.

Risk Factors for Erectile Dysfunction

While ED can affect men of all ages, certain factors can increase your chances of experiencing it. Here’s a quick rundown:

  • Age: As men get older, it becomes more common to experience occasional ED.
  • Lifestyle Habits: Smoking, unhealthy diet, lack of exercise, and excessive alcohol consumption can all contribute to ED. These habits can affect blood flow and overall health, making erections more difficult.
  • Medical Conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure, can also raise your risk of ED. These conditions can impair blood flow and nerve function, which are necessary for a normal erection.

If you have any concerns about ED risk factors or are experiencing symptoms, talk to your doctor. Early diagnosis and treatment can help!

When to See a Doctor for Erectile Dysfunction (ED)

Erectile dysfunction (ED) can be frustrating, but it’s important to remember you’re not alone. If you’re experiencing ED that’s persistent, happening often, or causing you stress and anxiety, it’s time to see a doctor.

ED is a treatable condition. There are many effective options available, and a doctor at a sexual health clinic can help you find the right course of treatment to get you back on track. Don’t hesitate to reach out for professional help.

Getting Diagnosed

Erectile dysfunction (ED) diagnosis is usually straightforward. A doctor will likely start with:

  • Talking to you: They’ll ask about your symptoms, medical history, and lifestyle habits.
  • Physical exam: A physical exam can help identify any underlying physical conditions.
  • Tests: In some cases, blood tests or an ultrasound might be needed to check blood flow or hormone levels.

Don’t worry—these tests are painless and routine. By working with your doctor, you can get a diagnosis and find the right treatment plan for you.

Erectile Dysfunction Treatment

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a treatable condition, and there are many options available to help you regain control. Here’s a look at some common approaches:

Healthy Habits for a Healthy You

Healthy lifestyle changes can significantly improve your overall health and often help with ED. This includes:

  • Diet: Eating a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can improve blood flow.
  • Exercise: Regular physical activity helps with blood flow and overall well-being.
  • Weight Management: Losing excess weight can improve blood flow and hormone levels.
  • Stress Reduction: Stress can worsen ED. Techniques like meditation or yoga can help manage stress.


Oral medications for treating erectile dysfunction are a common and effective treatment for ED. These medications work by increasing blood flow to the penis during arousal. It’s important to talk to your doctor to see if these medications are right for you, as they may not suit everyone.

Beyond Pills

There are other treatment options available depending on the cause and severity of your ED. These include:

  • Vacuum Pumps: These devices create an erection by drawing blood into the penis.
  • Implants: These are surgically placed devices that allow for an erection when activated.
  • Surgery: In some cases, surgery might be an option to improve blood flow to the penis.

Getting Help for Erectile Dysfunction

Don’t let ED hold you back from a fulfilling sex life. If you’re experiencing symptoms of ED, take control of your health and contact Capstone Medical Centre today. We’re here to help you get back on track with our experienced experts at men’s health and sexual health clinics.

You can contact us directly or book an online appointment.


  • mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/erectile-dysfunction/multimedia/vid-20531988
  • clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/10035-erectile-dysfunction
  • urologyhealth.org/urology-a-z/e/erectile-dysfunction-(ed)