Many people with a penis will have trouble achieving or maintain an erection at some point in their lives, and this is especially true as they get older. If it’s temporary, it is usually nothing to worry about. However, if it keeps happening, you might need to see your GP and try to understand the cause.
There are many physical causes of erection difficulties:
- heart disease
- hypertension (high blood pressure)
- high cholesterol
- low testosterone
- enlarged prostate
- sleep disorders
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Parkinson’s disease
- medication side effects.
There are many lifestyle factors that can contribute to erectile dysfunction:
- drinking too much alcohol or caffeine
- smoking or recreational drug use
- lack of exercise
- overuse of porn or porn addiction, making real-life sex less arousing
- too much masturbation using a tight grip that cannot be replicated through penetrative sex with another person, therefore reducing sensation of pleasure.
Finally, many emotional factors can cause erectile dysfunction, including:
- anxiety or depression
- emotional trauma
- history of abuse or assault
- body image issues or low self esteem
- unhappiness with relationship
- performance anxiety.
When to get help
If you're worried about your erection, a porn addition, or the impact of tight grip, see a healthcare professional. They will be able to discuss the problem, check any medication you may be taking and do a physical examination including bloodwork to explore any physical causes. They can also refer you into appropriate onward services, including psychosexual services or erectile dysfunction support. Treatment will depend on the underlying causes, and can include:
- Drugs like sildenafil (Viagra), vardenafil and tadalafil work by increasing blood flow in your penis. You take them before you have sex to help you get an erection.
- You might be prescribed testosterone if your levels of this hormone are low, but it won't help if circulation or nerve problems are causing your erection problems.
- Lifestyle changes: Your healthcare professional might suggest that you lose weight or start an exercise routine to improve your symptoms. They might also recommend that you stop smoking, cut down on alcohol, or stop using recreational drugs such as cannabis.
- Counselling: If stress, depression, or relationship problems are causing your erection difficulties, talking to a counsellor could help.
- Vacuum device: also called a penis pump, this is a tube that fits over your penis. It includes a pump, which you use to suck air from the tube. This pulls blood into your penis to make it erect. You place an elastic ring around the bottom of your penis to keep it erect, and take off the vacuum tube. After sex, you remove the ring to end the erection.
For more information, please visit erectile dysfunction on NHS.uk.