As you get older, erections may take longer to develop and may not be as firm. You may need more direct touch to your penis to get and keep an erection. This isn't a direct consequence of getting older. Usually it's a result of underlying health problems or taking medications, which is more common as men age.

A variety of risk factors can contribute to erectile dysfunction. They include:

  • Medical conditions, particularly diabetes or heart problems.
  • Using tobacco, which restricts blood flow to veins and arteries. Over time tobacco use can cause chronic health problems that lead to erectile dysfunction.
  • Being overweight, especially if you're very overweight (obese).
  • Certain medical treatments, such as prostate surgery or radiation treatment for cancer.
  • Injuries, particularly if they damage the nerves that control erections.
  • Medications, including antidepressants, antihistamines and medications to treat high blood pressure, pain or prostate cancer.
  • Psychological conditions, such as stress, anxiety or depression.
  • Drug and alcohol use, especially if you're a long-term drug user or heavy drinker.
  • Prolonged bicycling, which may compress nerves and affect blood flow to the penis, can lead to temporary erectile dysfunction.
Feb. 10, 2012

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