What Are The Symptoms of Erectile Dysfunction?
While it might seem obvious what the symptoms of erectile dysfunction are, ED doesn’t always present itself simply in the inability to get an erection.
Erectile dysfunction can be anything from a lack of arousal, to an increased amount of time required to achieve an erection (or the inability to maintain one), as well as the complete absence of an erection. But what causes these symptoms and what can you do about it if they begin presenting themselves?
Erectile Dysfunction Symptom 1: Complete lack of arousal
Feeling little or no sexual arousal could be the first symptom of erectile dysfunction. A healthy sex life starts with sexual desire, and if you’re missing this, you’re missing the first step on the road to not just good sex, but any sex at all. Lack of arousal can be psychological, physiological, hormonal or emotional, with low libido affecting men of all ages. This can present itself as feeling nothing sexual when with your partner, or perhaps nothing sexual towards anyone at all, which then leads to an inability to get or maintain an erection you can be happy with. Common reasons for low or diminished libidos include:
- Low self esteem. If you don’t see yourself in a favourable light, it can be hard to imagine other people will be attracted to you. Low self-esteem can cause all sorts of issues within a relationship, and can severely impact on your erection as your confidence wanes.
- Medication. Some medications, such as antidepressants, can completely suppress any feelings of sexual desire. This happens when mood stabilising medications diminish the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine, which are both required to get you in the mood.
- Hormone imbalances. Testosterone is required for a good, strong erection, so if your levels are low you may find your feelings of arousal are dramatically diminished.
- Relationship troubles. Issues related to your relationship can definitely put a damper on your yearning for sex. Not feeling as attracted, or connected, to your partner or having trouble communicating and/or fighting a lot, may mean a drastic reduction in your ability to feel aroused around them.
Erectile Dysfunction Symptom 2: Trouble getting or maintaining an erection
Arousal may not be an issue for you, approaching sex with your partner ready and raring to go, however you may have trouble getting or maintaining an erection. You could find that your body is lagging behind your mind and, while you’re aroused, your erection is nowhere to be seen, coming on very slowly or not being as solid as you’re used to. Alternately, you may have no issues getting an erection but find it quickly softening or you are ejaculating much earlier than you would like. These issues can be caused by a myriad of reasons, often broken down into two categories: physical and psychological.
Physical: Physical reasons you may have trouble gaining or maintaining an erection can include:
- Underlying medical conditions, which affect circulation and therefore, impede your penis’s ability to be completely filled with blood. These can include diabetes, high blood pressure and clogged vessels in your heart
- Surgeries which affect the pelvic area or spinal cord
- Excessive alcohol and tobacco use
- Enlarged prostate
- Prescription medications
Psychological: Erections start in the brain, requiring you to be relaxed and turned on before your brain starts a chain of reactions, which will result in a rush of blood to your penis, and subsequently, an erection. If you are experiencing issues impeding this first step, an erection is unlikely to follow. Psychological reasons you may be experiencing erectile dysfunction include:
- Depression or anxiety. Either of these mental health issues can put a damper on your sex life. This can be due to a lack of the neurotransmitters, which facilitate sexual desire and are notably absent when you are experiencing depression. Medications for these conditions too can lead to an inability to feel aroused or get an erection while general anxiety can stop you being able to be in the moment, but instead worrying about a range of other issues.
- Stress. Stress can affect your entire body, from your gut to your mind to your penis. Stress about work, big life events or even just the day-to-day stressors of family and friends can affect your hormone levels, and can physically impede your ability to either get or maintain an erection. Stress also drastically diminishes your ability to relax and get hard easily as your mind is elsewhere and your body is tense.
Erectile Dysfunction Symptom 3: Random erections
While random erections may not seem like a problem, they could be a symptom of erectile dysfunction. Unaccompanied by arousal, a random erection can catch you by surprise, rearing its head when you least suspect it, when you’re shopping, at work or out for a run. While most men will experience erections randomly during the night, random erections at other times can be a symptom of erectile dysfunction. If this is the case, it’s likely that the core issue is a psychological one, as your body can physically achieve an erection however, the connection between mind and body is experiencing some difficulty.
Prevention and treatment
In order to prevent the onset of erectile dysfunction it’s important to be aware of the common risk factors for the condition. These include excess use of drugs or alcohol, underlying medical conditions that affect circulation or the pelvic area, mental health issues and large amounts of stress in your life. Treatment of erectile dysfunction includes:
- Treating underlying medical conditions (including mental health issues)
- Exercising regularly
- Working to reduce stress in your life
- Avoiding excessive tobacco and alcohol use
- Taking erectile dysfunction medication
- In extreme cases, injections or surgery can be performed
Regardless of what is causing your erectile dysfunction, take comfort in the fact you’re not alone, with one in four Australian men experiencing the condition at some point in their lives. And simply seeking support and treatment is the first step back to the healthy sex life you desire.
Learn more about E.D.
Treating erectile dysfunction is all about improving blood flow. Most cases can be treated through habits and medications that enhance blood flow to the penis. Understand What Causes Erectile Dysfunction .
Reasonable care has been taken to provide accurate information at the time of creation but this is for informational purposes only.
This information is not intended to substitute medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to manage or diagnose a medical condition.
This information is not intended for use in an emergency. If you are suffering an acute illness, overdose, or emergency condition, call triple zero (000) and ask for an ambulance