ED isn’t necessarily related to age or chronic illnesses. Other common causes include:

Alcohol slows nerve communications within the brain and throughout the body, which can affect arousal signals and physical coordination. Tobacco not only restricts blood flow but can lead to serious diseases that may further impair sexual function.

Medications can also affect people differently. A drug that decreases sexual performance in one person might not in another. Common types of drugs that may lead to impotence include:

Psychological and emotional stressors can also inhibit sexual arousal. Nervous about tomorrow’s sales presentation at work? Grieving a parent’s death? Angry or hurt by arguments with your spouse? Any of these can interfere with your feelings of sexual desire.

Plus, not having or sustaining an erection — even once, for any reason — can spiral into greater anxiety and perhaps doubts about your sexual abilities and self-esteem.


Lifestyle changes and other treatments

The good news is that you can control most of the physical and emotional causes of ED. For example, you can:

  • lose weight
  • quit smoking
  • try to improve your relationship with your sexual partner
  • practice healthy responses to stress

Such strategies might take a little research and trial and error to discover what works best for you. Be sure to talk to your doctor to address physical or medication causes of your ED.

What’s the outlook?

The risk for ED can increase with age because of naturally decreasing levels of testosterone. Still, testosterone and age aren’t the sole factors in achieving an erection. Most causes of ED aren’t directly related to age, but rather other underlying medical issues.

Your doctor can determine the cause of ED with a blood test and physical and psychosocial exams. There may even be more than one underlying cause. Once the problem is properly identified, ED can be treated so you can lead a happier, healthier life.