ERECTIONS ∙ 2 minutes read

The 4 different types of erectile dysfunction

By Duncan Fisher

- Erectile dysfunction (ED) is when a man has persistent trouble getting hard enough, long enough, for sex. It can be a symptom of a lot of different underlying issues, including psychological problems such as anxiety.

- There are a number of different risk factors, like age, lifestyle, medications and medical conditions which make ED more likely to occur.

Broadly speaking, there are four general reasons men can develop ED. You can have a look at Numan’s ‘Book of Erections’ to read about them in more detail.


Blood flow causes

One of the most common causes of ED is an underlying problem with reduced blood flow, arterial insufficiency or arterial blockage. Poor arterial flow can stem from things like diabetes, high lipid (cholesterol) levels in the blood, or cigarette smoking.

Hormonal causes

Sometimes hormone imbalance is to blame for ED. Low levels of testosterone are associated with erectile dysfunction, for example, though it’s not yet known exactly why. Abnormal thyroid hormone levels can cause ED too.  

Nerve causes

Because the signals which lead erection to occur are mediated by the nerves, sometimes ED can arise from a problem with nerve signalling to the penis. This can be from things like injury, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, or diabetes (which can affect nerve health as well as blood vessel health, as mentioned above).

Psychological causes

It’s well established that stress, depression and anxiety can interfere with men’s ability to achieve and maintain an erection. Even antidepressant medications themselves can cause ED.

The bottom line

The cause of a man’s erectile dysfunction might be simple, or it might be complicated. Broadly speaking, though, it often caused by four main categories: blood flow causes, hormonal causes, nerve causes, and psychological causes.