Why Do People Get ED? Common Risk Factors for Erectile Dysfunction

When erectile dysfunction is discussed, it is often discussed in the context of an older person. But the truth is, younger men can suffer from erectile dysfunction, too. Age is not the only risk factor in developing this condition and it is important to know and understand all risk factors for erectile dysfunction, as they are clues as to how to treat the underlying condition causing your ED.

Vascular Disease

An erection involves increased blood flow, which requires a healthy vascular system in order to achieve properly. If a man suffers from heart disease or blood clots, his ability to have or maintain an erection could become compromised. If a man without known vascular issues or heart disease starts experiencing erectile dysfunction, it could be a clue that heart disease is developing. It’s always important for doctors to delve deeper into why a person is experiencing erectile dysfunction instead of treating ED as its own independent condition.


When sugar in the blood supply is elevated for extended periods of time, it can cause damage to blood vessels and nerves–the very items involved in the formation of an erection. If a person’s diabetes is not controlled, or if a person is not aware he has diabetes, he can experience erectile dysfunction. It’s important to alert your doctor if you are experiencing erectile dysfunction and to make sure to keep your diabetes under control to prevent vessel and nerve damage. Other complications from diabetes, such as high blood pressure, can also contribute to erectile dysfunction, so it’s important to go over your full medical history and get a complete work-up when suffering from ED.


Obesity unfortunately affects a large number of people and contributes to all sorts of diseases and conditions. Obesity often goes along with high cholesterol and high blood pressure, which can cause clots, blood flow issues, and even stress, all of which are risk factors for erectile dysfunction. Obesity can also lead to diabetes and heart disease. It is important to talk to your doctor about what is a healthy weight for you and how to achieve that goal weight in a healthy way. Fad diets often backfire, but healthy, clean eating will keep your body functioning properly and lower your risk for developing some of these complications.  

Stress and Anxiety

While stress and anxiety are psychological conditions, they have a profound physical effect on your body. When it comes to achieving an erection, there is a strong emotional component where the man becomes excited, leading to the physical responses that bring on the erection. Without that excitement, the increased blood flow and other physical reactions are often not triggered, preventing an erection from occurring. Stress, anxiety, and depression prevent that build-up of excitement and may even make a man lose interest in sex entirely. Managing your stress and anxiety is an important component in recovering your sexual health.


Certain medications can contribute to erectile dysfunction. If you are experiencing ED and you take medication, don’t feel like you have to sacrifice your sex life or your health. Inform your doctor of what you are experiencing and your doctor will work with you to change your dosage or your medication so you can both stay healthy and enjoy being with your loved one.

No matter what the cause of your ED, it’s important to be aware of the risk factors for erectile dysfunction so you and your doctor can work together to discover the whole picture of the state of your health. When treating ED, it is most effective to treat the underlying issue causing the ED instead of the symptom alone. That is why partnerships between patient and doctor, such as the ones we forge at Apex Health Center, are so vital.

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Woman trying to comfort man during episode of erectile dysfunction.Erectile dysfunction and heart disease are often connected.