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What Causes The Loss of an Erection?

His Clinic · April 15, 2019

Picture this, you’ve come to the end of a busy day and have been looking forward to getting frisky with your partner.

The moment arrives and you’re ready to get busy, but your erection is nowhere to be seen. Maybe you had a perfectly strong erection yesterday, or maybe it’s been a little while.

Regardless of the situation, this is a disheartening scenario experienced by many men. But how did this happen? And what can you do about it?

Spinal or nervous system problems


The sudden loss of erection can be caused by a number of things. Erections can be achieved in a number of different ways, relying on various different systems within the body. This means that there are a number of different issues that can hinder them. The reflex erection for example, is achieved by directly touching the shaft of the penis and is under the control of the peripheral nerves and the lower parts of the spinal cord, while a psychogenic erection is the result of erotic or emotional stimulation, and relies on the limbic system of the brain to trigger an erection. Injuries to the spinal cord or brain damage therefore could cause loss of your ability to get an erection.


Circulation issues

There is a clear link between the hardening of the arteries (also known as atherosclerosis) and erectile dysfunction; due to the limiting of blood flow caused by the former, which is crucial to achieving a good, solid erection. Your arteries are lined with a thin layer of cells called endothelium, and it is the job of these cells to keep your arteries’ interiors smooth, allowing blood to flow quickly and efficiently. Certain lifestyle factors or smoking can damage your endothelium, which in turn allows plaque to build up in the walls of your arteries. This can lead to a range of detrimental outcomes including heart attacks and strokes, and is also a big contributor to erectile dysfunction. As your arteries become clogged, the flow of your blood slows down, limiting the amount of blood making it to your penis stopping it from being able to fill with blood, swelling and becoming hard.

Hormonal or chemical imbalances

Sex begins in the brain, with sexuality having four distinct phases; desire, arousal, orgasm, and resolution. Each phase has a corresponding brain biochemical, which helps you to achieve that state. If you are experiencing anxiety, depression, hormonal conditions or your immune system is a little suppressed your brain may not be producing these biochemicals, stopping you from being able to achieve one or all of these phases of sexuality and therefore, an erection.

Venous leak

Because an erection requires blood to both rush into, and stay in, your penis, a venous leak could be the reason your erection is suddenly disappearing. Conditions such as vascular disease can cause the veins in your penis to be unable to constrict enough to trap blood in the penis (known as a venous leak), meaning that it will only be hard for a short time or not at all.

Performance anxiety


Performance anxiety is probably the most common cause of erectile dysfunction. Stemming from nerves about performance in the bedroom or not satisfying your partner, performance anxiety can mean you are unable to your focus off the here and now, causing you to become tense and unable to relax and get, or maintain, an erection.

Erectile dysfunction isn’t an issue that has one simple cause. ED can stem from your emotional state, complications with your physical health, hormones or even what you’re eating; affecting one in four Australian men, ED isn’t uncommon. The good news is however, that it is a treatable condition, and all you need to do to get your erection back is seek help from medical professionals and support from your loved ones.


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 .

¹ Yafi FA, Jenkins L, Albersen M, et al. Erectile dysfunction. Nat Rev Dis Primers. 2016;2:16003. Published 2016 Feb 4. doi:10.1038/nrdp.2016.3

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

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