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Risk Factors for Erectile Dysfunction

Risk factors for erectile dysfunction

A risk factor is something that increases your likelihood of getting a disease or condition.  It is possible to develop erectile dysfunction with or without the risk factors listed below. However, the more risk factors you have, the greater your likelihood of developing erectile dysfunction. If you have a number of risk factors, ask your healthcare provider what you can do to reduce your risk.

Learn more about the risk factors for erectile dysfunction

Age:  The incidence of erectile dysfunction rises with age:

  • One in four for men in their 60s
  • Nine in ten for men in their 80s

Medical Conditions:  Certain medical conditions can increase your risk of erectile dysfunction, including:

  • Diabetes
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Arteriosclerosis (hardening of arteries)
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Cirrhosis
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Myotonic dystrophy
  • Peyronie’s disease (bending of the penis caused by scar tissue)
  • Endocrine disorders (hypogonadism, hyperprolactinemia)
  • Thyroid disorders (hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism)
  • Cushing’s syndrome
  • Neurological disorders (multiple sclerosis, neuropathy, stroke)
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Psychiatric disorders (such as anxiety, depression, schizophrenia)
  • Psychological problems (stress, personal relationships, new partners)

Traumatic Conditions: Trauma, whether through an accident or surgery, can increase your risk of erectile dysfunction. Trauma includes:

  • Vascular surgery
  • Urologic surgery, such as prostate surgery
  • Pelvic surgeries (particularly for prostate cancer)
  • Spinal cord injury

Behaviors:  Certain behaviors can increase your risk of erectile dysfunction, including:

  • Alcohol use
  • Illegal drug use (e.g., heroin, marijuana)
  • Anabolic steroid use
  • Heavy smoking

Medications:  Certain medications can increase your risk of erectile dysfunction, including:

  • Antihypertensives
  • Antihistamines
  • Antidepressants
  • Tranquilizers
  • Antipsychotics
  • Histamine blockers
  • Nicotine

If you suspect a medication may be affecting your sexual functioning, talk with your doctor. Do not stop taking a medication without talking to your doctor first.

Reducing your risk of erectile dysfunction

A risk factor increases your chance of getting a disease. Some risk factors can be avoided, such as smoking. Other risk factors you may have no control over, such as your genetic make-up. If you have a risk factor for erectile dysfunction that you can and do change, you may reduce your risk.  To reduce your risk of becoming impotent:

  • Manage your medical conditions.
  • Talk to your doctor about changing medications.
  • Maintain a healthful diet and exercise program.
  • Quit smoking.
  • Do not use recreational drugs.
  • Consider counseling.

Manage Medical Conditions:  Some cases of erectile dysfunction are due to chronic diseases of the lungs, liver, kidneys, heart, nerves, arteries, or veins. With your physician’s help, you can manage conditions that could affect your ability to have an erection, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and depression.

Talk to Your Doctor About Medications:  If you suspect that your medications may be the problem, ask your doctor about changing or adjusting them. Medications for the following conditions are most commonly associated with erectile dysfunction as a side effect:

  • High blood pressure
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Schizophrenia

Maintain a Healthful Diet and Exercise Program:   Eat a healthful diet, one that is low in saturated fat and high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Begin and stick to a regular exercise plan. Choose exercises you enjoy and will make a regular part of your day. Strive to maintain an exercise program that keeps you fit and at a healthy weight. For many people, this includes walking or participating in an aerobic activity for 30 minutes per day. Exercise also can help you manage stress. Check with your doctor before starting any exercise program.

Quit Smoking:  Excessive tobacco use can also damage penile arteries. Quitting smoking reduces your risk of erectile dysfunction.

Do Not Use Recreational Drugs: Chronic use of alcohol, marijuana, or other drugs, like cocaine, speed, or heroin, often causes erectile dysfunction, along with decreased sexual drive.

Consider Counseling:  Psychological factors, such as stress, anxiety, and depression, account for 10%-5% of erectile dysfunction cases. Counseling can help you manage or prevent these emotions and interpersonal conflict. You may also want to try couples counseling.

Special Considerations:  Before quitting any medications, and even alcohol or tobacco if you are addicted, consult with your doctor about the safest way to do it.

Take the first step toward reaching your goal. Call our office today and schedule a consultation with one of our male fertility physicians. We serve the Austin, San Antonio, and Houston areas with comprehensive reproductive endocrinology and infertility care.

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