Can Anxiety Cause Erectile Dysfunction?

Can Anxiety Cause Erectile Dysfunction?

Our sexual identity is a vital part of who we are as people, from the moment we make our way through puberty and our hormones help us develop into adults. This isn’t just about having sex or actively pursuing those you’re interested in; it also means your perception of your own sexuality. For men, this can be affected by the ability to have sex, and conditions like erectile dysfunction (ED) can impact how they see themselves and how they think others see them.

ED can be caused by many different conditions or may be a symptom of other, more harmful, illnesses. Mental illnesses, including problems with anxiety, can also play a role in ED. To better understand how anxiety can cause erectile dysfunction, let’s examine ED and what can be done to treat it.

If you live in the Fort Lauderdale, Pompano Beach or South Florida area and you’re trying to cope with erectile dysfunction or other related problems, Drs. Craig Herman, Steven Kester, and their team at the Urology Center of Florida can help.

Defining erectile dysfunction

When you get an erection, the blood flow through the penis is increased, stimulated by things that you find arousing, as well as direct contact. The penis grows, and once the penile veins are filled, the erection is generally maintained for as long as the arousal remains. The erection ends once the veins constrict and the increase of blood leaves.

When struggling with erectile dysfunction, you have problems either getting an erection or maintaining one long enough to have intercourse. Dealing with this problem periodically is not unusual, and while it is more common in older men, it does happen among young adults. It is frequently a symptom rather than a condition in and of itself, and it is often the result of illnesses like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, obesity, hyperthyroidism, high cholesterol, hormone imbalances, kidney disease, alcohol abuse, and pelvic injury.

How anxiety leads to ED

Stress is a common part of our everyday lives, and as a survival mechanism it is helpful in keeping us safe when reacting to dangerous situations. Sadly many of us deal with prolonged exposure to stressful situations, leading to chronic problems, which can be induced by things like trouble at work, paying bills, interpersonal relationships, and accidents. Chronic stress causes problems with anxiety disorders, which affect as many as 37% of men in the US. Anxiety triggers stress responses in the body that can lead to rapid breathing, higher blood pressure, and increased heart rate, and research indicates it also affects your sympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for starting and maintaining erections. Starting to have problems getting an erection can also make you feel more stressed, compounding the emotional issues and making ED worse.

How it can be treated

Managing ED comes down to taking care of the underlying conditions that cause it, but increased exercise, losing weight, discussing your issues with a therapist, and quitting habits dangerous to your health (smoking, drinking) are all ways to help reduce problems. Other methods to directly treat ED include oral or injected medications, low-intensity focused shockwave therapy (or LiSWT), testosterone replacement therapy, vacuum constriction devices (penis pumps), and penile implants, depending on the extent of the issues with getting erect.

Many physical and emotional issues can lead to erectile dysfunction, including anxiety, and if you’re trying to manage this problem, make an appointment with Drs. Herman, Kester, and the team at the Urology Center of Florida to get the help you need. Call or message us today.

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