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Causes of Erectile Dysfunction

Male sexual arousal is a complex process that involves the brain, hormones, emotions, nerves, muscles and blood vessels. Erectile dysfunction can result from a problem with any of these. Likewise, stress and mental health concerns can cause or worsen erectile dysfunction.

Sometimes a combination of physical and psychological issues causes erectile dysfunction. For instance, a minor physical condition that slows your sexual response might cause anxiety about maintaining an erection. The resulting anxiety can lead to or worsen erectile dysfunction.

Work Up & Treatment Considerations

  • Physical exam. This might include careful examination of your penis and testicles and checking your nerves for sensation.

  • Blood tests. A sample of your blood might be sent to a lab to check for signs of heart disease, diabetes, low testosterone levels and other health conditions.

  • Psychological exam. Your doctor might ask questions to screen for depression and other possible psychological causes of erectile dysfunction.

Oral medications. Our physician assistant Scott Baxter can Rx meds to enhance the effects of nitric oxide — a natural chemical your body produces that relaxes muscles in the penis. This increases blood flow and allows you to get an erection in response to sexual stimulation.

Psychological Counseling. If your erectile dysfunction is caused by stress, anxiety or depression — or the condition is creating stress and relationship tension — we might suggest that you, or you and your partner, see our psychologist Dr. Brian Potts. For many men, erectile dysfunction is caused or worsened by lifestyle choices.

 

Testosterone replacement. Some men have erectile dysfunction that might be complicated by low levels of the hormone testosterone. In this case, testosterone replacement therapy might be recommended as the first step or given in combination with other therapies.

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