That’s right, the two words that can strike fear into the heart (and pants) of many: erectile dysfunction. While it goes by many other nicknames, erectile dysfunction is something that many people have experienced, have been anxious about and have talked about with friends. So, today we’re tackling erectile dysfunction head on, clarifying what exactly it is, how common it is, how it can be caused and most importantly, some tips and tricks to avoid it.
What is Erectile Dysfunction, Technically?
Technically speaking, erectile dysfunction is defined as the inability to get or keep an erection firm enough to have a sexual experience. Biologically speaking, this is caused by issues with blood flow to the penis (more on that later), which in turn can create issues achieving and maintaining an erection.
For what is essentially a blood flow issue, there is a lot of anxiety, embarrassment and lack of education around erectile dysfunction. Let’s keep going!
Just How Common is Erectile Dysfunction?
The good and bad news about erectile dysfunction is that it is remarkably common. Because it can be a rather sensitive topic, the research varies widely though there is some consensus.
Experts generally agree across the board that erectile dysfunction is common, that the risk for experiencing it increases with age and that it is estimated by some to be the most common form of sexual dysfunction that affects men (and others who have penises).
In fact, estimates in global prevalence in recent studies have ranged anywhere from 3%, all the way up to 76.5%, though the most commonly cited statistics suggest the actual number is around 52%, with about half as many men under 40 experiencing erectile dysfunction. That’s more than one in two proud owners of penises overall!
So what’s the point? If you or a partner have experienced any erection troubles, don’t panic! Having the occasional hiccup is totally normal (even up to as many as one in five sexual experiences, depending on the person). If you are finding that you are experiencing erection troubles in more than half of your sexual experiences, you may want to talk to a health professional, as there are many causes for erectile dysfunction and it may actually be an underlying health problem.
Potential Causes of Erectile Dysfunction
Firstly, one of the lesser known but more easily addressed causes of erectile dysfunction is ill-fitting condoms, specifically if you find that standard condoms are either too long or too tight for you. When you wear condoms, if they are creating a tight and uncomfortable ring around the shaft of your penis, this can cut off blood flow and subsequently cause you to lose your erection.
Don’t worry, we are here to help! Browse on over to find your perfect condom fit on our myONE Condoms website. MyONE has 60 condom sizes, with combinations of 10 lengths and 9 girth options. If you struggle with condoms being too tight (such as having purple rings on your penis after sex), we’re confident myONE condoms can help!
The laundry list of other potential causes for erectile dysfunction falls mainly into two categories: biological and psychological.
So, because erectile dysfunction is caused by blood not being carried through blood vessels and muscle tissue of the penis, many of the potential causes are based on circulation and health-related issues. If you find that you or your partner(s) are regularly experiencing erectile dysfunction, it may be based on what is going on inside your body.
Without causing too much alarm, here are some of the most common conditions that can cause erectile dysfunction as a symptom:
- Low testosterone
- High cholesterol and/or high blood pressure
- Sleep disorders
- Clogged blood vessels (atherosclerosis)
- Digestive and kidney diseases (such as kidney disease)
- Heart problems or heart disease
As you can see, many of these conditions are quite serious, and for the majority of people their erectile dysfunction will not be due to anything anywhere near as dire. The best option is to consult a health professional to get their opinion if you have any concerns.
Also, you may have heard phrases like “whiskey dick” – this is actually backed by science as well. Another potential biological cause for erectile dysfunction is the consumption of alcohol and other substances like amphetamines (e.g. speed, meth), cocaine, marijuana, heroin and nicotine.
But it’s not just alcohol and drugs that can cause erectile dysfunction. There are a host of prescribed medications and treatments whose side effects include erectile dysfunction, among others. If you or your partner(s) are taking any of the below types of medications, this may be the cause of any erectile dysfunction:
- Antidepressants and other psychiatric medicines
- Antihistamine medicines for allergies, nausea or heartburn
- High blood pressure medicines and diuretics (water pills)
- Chemotherapy and hormonal medicines (like testosterone blockers)
- Opiate analgesics (painkillers)
- Finasteride and other hair-loss products
As you can see, erections much like beauty are much more than skin deep, and that rings even truer for the potential psychological causes for erectile dysfunction.
A wise person once said, “the most important muscle for sex is the brain.” Not only is your brain responsible for controlling all of the other bodily functions required to have a great sexual experience, it is also home to the emotional and pleasure headquarters for the body.
Some of the more nuanced causes for erectile dysfunction are actually psychological, including anxiety, stress, depression and/or issues within the relationship with your partner(s). At face value, this may not seem intuitive, but it essentially boils down to being well enough to have sex, the same as any other area of your life.
If your body is focused on dealing with ongoing mental health concerns or coping with emotions and influxes of enzymes and hormones, it will likely be hard to focus on enjoying your sexual experience. The same can be true if you subconsciously or consciously are not comfortable with your partner – your brain can communicate with the rest of your body about the perceived threat or discomfort and divert the blood flow away from your penis in an effort to self preserve.
Bonus: Tips, Tricks and Treatments for Erectile Dysfunction
With all the potential causes for erectile dysfunction, it can be a little disheartening, especially with the frustration and loss of confidence that can come along with it. We have compiled a few treatments for ED to get and maintain an erection and to help you (and your partner(s)) better enjoy your sexual experiences!
- If you struggle with condoms being too tight and causing erection loss, fix your fit at myONE Condoms.
- Try out a cock ring to help restrict blood flow out of the penis (and there are lots of different styles and sizes)
- Battery-powered or manual penis pump to draw blood to the penis and create an erection with a little mechanical assistance
- Erectile dysfunction medication through a traditional doctor’s office or discreet online pharmacy program
- Penile implants can be inserted into the penis with either semi rigid rods or inflatable material for manually pumping (generally a last treatment option)
Please remember, it is important that you consult with a healthcare professional because every body and every penis is different and your sexual health and overall well-being is just as important as treating any erectile dysfunction.