Erectile dysfunction (ED), defined as the persistent inability to achieve and maintain an erection to the point of orgasm, affects an estimated 15 to 30 million men in the U.S. alone. But finding out what's causing your own particular erection problem is a tricky process that needs to involve your doctor.
In the past, doctors believed ED was caused by psychological problems such as depression and performance anxiety, but now as much as 90% of erectile dysfunction is believed to include some physical cause.
When you visit a doctor about ED, he or she should take a detailed medical and sexual history, give you a full physical examination, request a number of blood tests to determine cholesterol, blood sugar, and testosterone levels, and order an EKG if you're over 50.
Here's a list of ED risk factors and causes that should be considered.
High blood pressure (hypertension)
Atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries)
Neurological disease (i.e. nerve damage and neuropathy)
Physical injury (especially pelvic trauma)
Stress or anxiety
Conflict with your partner