The science behind ED

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a common problem. It is estimated that around half of all men aged between 40 and 70 have it to some degree. Meanwhile, a considerable number of younger people experience ED too.

Fortunately, there are now effective treatments on offer that can help men to overcome the condition. Medicines such as Cialis and Viagra can enable people with ED to experience erections that are sufficient for penetrative sex.


Meanwhile, if you or your partner has ED and you want to get the lowdown on the science behind the condition, take a look at this brief guide.

Interrupting the normal process

Normally, when men become aroused their brains send signals to the nerves located in their penises. This results in an increase in the flow of blood, causing the tissue to expand and become harder. ED occurs when this process is interrupted.


This medical problem has a range of causes, some physical and some psychological. Physical triggers include a narrowing of the blood vessels that lead to the penis. This is often associated with high cholesterol, diabetes or high blood pressure.

Hormonal problems can lead to ED too. For example, the condition hypogonadism means that the body produces abnormally low levels of the sex hormone testosterone.

Health issues that impact on the nervous system, such as Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis, can also cause ED. Spinal injuries fall into this category too.

It’s also important to note that particular medicines can cause problems in getting and sustaining erections. For example, certain diuretics and antipsychotics are known to have this effect.

As well as physical triggers like these, a range of psychological factors can increase the risk of ED. Anxiety, depression and relationship problems are three common examples.

Getting a diagnosis

If your ED only occurs in certain situations, it is likely that psychological factors are to blame. For example, you might find you sometimes wake up with an erection but are unable to get an erection during sex with your partner.

If you cannot get an erection under any circumstances, the underlying cause is probably physical.

It’s vital that you establish the cause of your ED. It is only by doing this that you can find suitable treatments. If the condition lasts for more than a few weeks, see a doctor. It is important to note that ED can be a symptom of more serious health conditions, so this is not an issue you can afford to ignore.