being anxious or depressed
drinking too much alcohol
some cancer treatments
other health conditions.
Read more about each of these possible causes below. Always talk to your GP or a pharmacist about your own situation and what may be causing your ED.
Talk to your GP if you’re having problems getting or keeping an erection. They will be able to talk to you about the different treatment options available. You could also go to a sexual health clinic for information and support. Find out where your nearest sexual health clinic is.
If you’re under the age of 40 and have ED, you may have some different concerns about how ED will affect you, including whether ED will affect your fertility. Read more about ED in younger men.
Being tired or having fatigue (extreme tiredness) may cause erection problems.
Talk to your GP if you’re very tired a lot of the time. They might be able to do some tests to find out the cause of your tiredness. If you’re able to reduce your tiredness and increase your energy levels, this may then help increase your libido (desire for sex) and improve your erection problems.
Eating a well balanced diet and exercising regularly can also help if you’re feeling very tired. Read more about tiredness and fatigue on the NHS website.
Feeling anxious or depressed can reduce your libido and cause erection problems.
Most people feel down from time to time, but if you’re feeling very down most of the time, you may be depressed. Speak to your GP about how you’re feeling, they will be able to talk to you about what treatment and support is available.
If you’re diagnosed with clinical depression, or if you have anxiety, your GP may prescribe you with some medicine to take.
Erection problems in men are a reported side effect of taking some types of antidepressants. These types of antidepressants are serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin-noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). Find out more about antidepressants on the NHS website.
Some people also find that talking to a professional about how you feel can be helpful. Ask your GP if they can refer you to a psychologist or counsellor. Or you can refer yourself for counselling through the NHS. Psychologists and counsellors are professionals who are trained to listen.
Alcohol and recreational drugs can make you more likely to have erection problems[1,4]. Try to reduce the amount of alcohol you drink. National guidelines say not to drink more than 14 units of alcohol a week, which is about six pints of beer a week. Read more about how to cut down the amount of alcohol you drink.
You may be more likely to have erection problems if you’re overweight. Try to eat a well balanced diet and do regular exercise. Always talk to your GP before you start a new diet or exercise routine. Read more about diet and exercise.
If you’ve been diagnosed with cancer including prostate, bladder or testicular cancer, your cancer treatment may cause erection problems. Read more about cancer treatment and erectile dysfunction.
If you’ve had heart problems, there is some evidence to show that you’re at an increased risk of having ED[6,7]. There is also research to show that if you have ED, you’re at an increased risk of having heart problems.
Other health conditions that may cause erection problems include:
multiple sclerosis (MS)
Talk to your GP if you have any of these conditions and you’re experiencing ED. If you have ED, there is treatment and support available that can help.
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Erectile dysfunction (impotence). nhs.uk | Published November 13, 2017 | Accessed September 4, 2020.https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/erection-problems-erectile-dysfunction
Sleep and tiredness. nhs.uk. | Published April 26, 2018 | Accessed September 4, 2020.https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/sleep-and-tiredness
Drinkaware Home | Accessed September 4, 2020.https://www.drinkaware.co.uk
Diabetes and sexual problems – in men | Diabetes UK | Accessed September 4, 2020.https://www.diabetes.org.uk/guide-to-diabetes/complications/sexual-problems-men
Erectile dysfunction | MS Trust | Accessed September 4, 2020.https://www.mstrust.org.uk/a-z/erectile-dysfunction
Erectile Dysfunction | Accessed September 24, 2020.https://www.baus.org.uk/professionals/sections/erectile_dysfunction.aspx
Overview - Antidepressants. nhs.uk. Published February 5, 2021. Accessed March 24, 2021.https://www.nhs.uk/mental-health/talking-therapies-medicine-treatments/medicines-and-psychiatry/antidepressants/overview/