What kinds of Health Conditions May Cause ED ?

What is Erectile dysfunction (ED) ?

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is the inability to get and keep an erection firm enough for sexual intercourse. Estimates suggest that one of every 10 men will suffer from ED at some point during his lifetime. It is important to understand that in most cases, ED is a symptom of another, underlying problem. ED is not considered normal at any age, and may be associated with other problems that interfere with sexual intercourse, such as lack of desire and problems with orgasm and ejaculation.

How common is erectile dysfunction?

Approximately one in 10 adult males will suffer from ED on a long-term basis.

Many men do experience occasional failure to achieve erection, which can occur for a variety of reasons, such as drinking too much alcohol, stress, relationship problems, or from being extremely tired.

The failure to get an erection less than 20% of the time is not unusual and typically does not require treatment. However, the failure to achieve an erection more than 50% of the time generally means that there is a problem and treatment is needed.

ED does not have to be a part of getting older. While it is true that some older men may need more stimulation, they should still be able to achieve an erection and enjoy intercourse.

Erectile dysfunction or ED May be Caused by following Health Conditions [1]

An erection occurs when blood flows into the corpora cavernosa (erection bodies) and gets trapped there. If the blood has problems getting to or staying in those erection bodies, you may have erectile dysfunction.

Physical causes of erectile dysfunction

In many cases, erectile dysfunction is caused by something physical. Common causes include:

    • Heart disease
    • Clogged blood vessels (atherosclerosis)
    • High cholesterol
    • High blood pressure
    • Diabetes
    • Obesity
    • Metabolic syndrome — a condition involving increased blood pressure, high insulin levels, body fat around the waist and high cholesterol
    • Parkinson’s disease
    • Multiple sclerosis
    • Certain prescription medications
    • Tobacco use
    • Peyronie’s disease — development of scar tissue inside the penis
    • Alcoholism and other forms of substance abuse
    • Sleep disorders
    • Treatments for prostate cancer or enlarged prostate
    • Surgeries or injuries that affect the pelvic area or spinal cord
    • Low testosterone

Psychological causes of erectile dysfunction

The brain plays a key role in triggering the series of physical events that cause an erection, starting with feelings of sexual excitement. A number of things can interfere with sexual feelings and cause or worsen erectile dysfunction. These include:

    • Depression, anxiety or other mental health conditions
    • Stress
    • Relationship problems due to stress, poor communication or other concerns

There are many potential causes for erectile dysfunction, such as these conditions/circumstances:

  • Vascular conditions:
  • High blood pressure
  • Elevated cholesterol
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Diabetes
  • Trauma:
    • Spinal cord injury
    • Pelvis injury
  • Neurologic disease:
    • Stroke
    • Parkinson’s disease
    • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Radiation to the pelvis for cancer
  • Endocrine:
    • Hypogonadism (low testosterone)
    • Hyperprolactinemia (high prolactin levels)
  • Pelvis surgery:
    • Radical prostatectomy (a surgical procedure for the partial or complete removal of the prostate)
    • Surgeries for rectal cancer or bladder cancer
  • Medication side effects:
    • Antidepressants
    • Antihypertensives (high blood pressure medicine)
    • Antiandrogens (testosterone blockers)
    • Antiarrhythmics (heart rhythm medicine)
  • Alcohol
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Cocaine and marijuana

What medications could cause erectile dysfunction (ED)?

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a common side effect of a number of prescription drugs. While these medications may treat a disease or condition, in doing so they can affect a man’s hormones, nerves or blood circulation, resulting in ED or increasing the risk of ED.

If you experience ED and think that it may be a result of the medication you are using, do not stop taking the medication. If the problem persists, contact your doctor and he or she may be able to prescribe a different medication. Common medications that may list ED as a potential side effect include:

      • Diuretics (pills that cause increase urine flow).
      • Antihypertensives (high blood pressure drugs).
      • Antihistamines.
      • Antidepressants.
      • Parkinson’s disease drugs.
      • Antiarrhythmics (drug for irregular heart action).
      • Tranquilizers.
      • Muscle relaxants.
      • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
      • Histamine H2-receptor antagonists.
      • Hormones.
      • Chemotherapy medications.
      • Prostate cancer drugs.
      • Anti-seizure medications.

Other substances or drugs that can cause or lead to ED include these recreational and frequently abused drugs:

  • Alcohol.
  • Amphetamines.
  • Barbiturates.
  • Cocaine.
  • Marijuana.
  • Methadone.
  • Nicotine.
  • Opiates.

These drugs not only affect and often suppress the central nervous system, but can also cause serious damage to the blood vessels, leading to permanent ED.

Diabetes & ED

Half of men with diabetes will experience ED within 10 years of their diagnosis. High blood sugar levels can damage the nerves that control sexual stimulation. They can also damage the blood vessels needed to provide adequate blood flow to the penis in order to have and maintain an erection.

While oral medications are a common first step for therapy, they only tend to work in about 50 percent of men with diabetes. Diabetic men are more likely to move on to other treatment options, such as the pump, penile injection therapy, and penile implants. However, the penile implant has the highest satisfaction rate of all treatment options.

ED & Heart Disease

Erectile dysfunction can be a warning sign of current or future heart disease sometimes. In fact, ED can precede coronary artery disease in almost 70 percent of cases.

When you have heart disease, or coronary artery disease (blocked blood vessels), it will affect the tiny arteries in your penis sooner. Many times, we will refer you to a cardiologist to determine if you have cardiovascular disease that is causing your ED.

Improving your heart health can help lower your risk for ED. You can start by:

  • increasing physical activity,
  • quitting tobacco products,
  • losing weight, and
  • consuming a healthy, well-balanced diet.

Prostate Cancer & ED

Erectile dysfunction is a potential complication following prostate cancer treatments. The nerves that control an erection lie very close to the prostate and may be injured during treatment. However, some men may regain their previous level of erectile function with nerve-sparing procedures. But it may take up to a year while some men may never recover their ability to have a natural erection.

Radiation for prostate cancer can cause ED symptoms to appear gradually, usually within two to three years after treatment. If you are experiencing ED after undergoing prostate cancer treatment, you can get a healthy sex life back. We can help you choose the best treatment options for you.

What prescription drugs may cause erectile dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a common side effect of a number of prescription drugs. While these medications may treat a disease or condition, in doing so they can affect a man’s hormones, nerves or blood circulation. The result may be ED or an increase in the risk of ED.

If you have ED and think that it may be a result of the medication you are using, do not stop taking the medication. If the problem persists, contact your doctor and he or she may be able to prescribe a different medication. Common medications that may list ED as a potential side effect include:

  • Diuretics (pills that cause an increase in urine flow).
  • Antihypertensives (medication for high blood pressure).
  • Antihistamines.
  • Antidepressants.
  • Parkinson’s disease drugs.
  • Antiarrhythmics (medication for irregular heart action).
  • Tranquilizers.
  • Muscle relaxants.
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
  • Histamine H2-receptor antagonists.
  • Hormones.
  • Chemotherapy medications.
  • Prostate cancer drugs.
  • Anti-seizure medications.

What other substances or drugs may cause erectile dysfunction?

opioids and Pain Medications
opioids and Pain Medications

Other substances or drugs that can cause or lead to ED include these recreational and frequently abused drugs:

  • Alcohol.
  • Amphetamines.
  • Barbiturates.
  • Cocaine.
  • Marijuana.
  • Methadone.
  • Nicotine.
  • Opiates.

Aside from the well-known complications that the use and abuse of these drugs can cause, ED is not often mentioned. However, use of these drugs is a risk factor for ED. These drugs not only affect and often times slow down the central nervous system, but can also cause serious damage to the blood vessels, leading to permanent ED.

What is muscle relaxant ?

If you have neck or back pain, or you’re dealing with some other condition that causes muscle spasms, your doctor might prescribe a muscle relaxer (or muscle relaxant) for you.
Muscle spasticity, on the other hand, is a continuous muscle spasm that causes stiffness, rigidity, or tightness that can interfere with normal walking, talking, or movement.
Muscle relaxant is a term usually used to refer to skeletal muscle relaxants (drugs), which act on the central nervous system (CNS) to relax muscles. These drugs are often prescribed to reduce pain and soreness associated with sprains, strains, or other types of muscle injury. Some examples of commonly prescribed skeletal muscle relaxant medications include carisoprodol (Soma), cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril), and metaxalone (Skelaxin), which are taken in tablet form.
Muscle relaxant drugs are only available by prescription in the U.S.
Other types of muscle relaxant drugs (neuromuscular blocking drugs) are sometimes used during the induction of general anesthesia or during insertion of an endotracheal (ET) tube.  These muscle relaxants are given intravenously (through the bloodstream) and act directly on the muscles. Examples of muscle relaxants used during surgical procedures include succinylcholine (Anectine, Sucostrin), atracurium (Tracrium), and pancuronium (Pavulon).
Muscle spasticity is caused by injury to parts of the brain or spinal cord involved with movement. Conditions that can cause muscle spasticity include multiple sclerosis (MS), cerebral palsy, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
Prescription drugs can help relieve the pain and discomfort from muscle spasms or spasticity. In addition, certain over-the-counter medications may be used to treat aches and pains associated with muscle spasms.

When You Might Need a Muscle Relaxer

Your doctor might first suggest you try an over-the-counter medicine like acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil) to treat your pain. But if those don’t work, or you can’t take them because you have another issue like liver problems or ulcers, you may need to try a muscle relaxant.

Muscle relaxants are ideally prescribed for acute rather than chronic pain. They may be an option if pain is preventing you from getting enough sleep. Because muscle relaxants cause drowsiness, they can help you get rest when you take them at night.

Side Effects

No matter what kind of muscle relaxer you take, you’ll experience one or more side effects. Some muscle relaxants, however, can have potentially serious side effects, like liver damage. Your doctor will work with you to find the medication that makes the most sense for your situation.

The most common side effects include:

      • Tiredness, drowsiness, or sedation effect
      • Fatigue or weakness
      • Dizziness
      • Dry mouth
      • Depression
      • Decreased blood pressure

You shouldn’t drink alcohol while taking muscle relaxants. These medications make it hard to think and function normally, even if you take a low dose, so combining them with alcohol can increase your risk of an accident.

You also shouldn’t drive or operate heavy machinery while taking muscle relaxants. Some muscle relaxers start working within 30 minutes of taking them, and the effects can last anywhere from 4 to 6 hours.

Addiction and Abuse

Muscle relaxants can be addictive for some people. Taking them without a prescription, or taking more than your doctor has recommended, can increase your chances of becoming addicted. So can using them over a long period of time.

Almost all cases of addiction and abuse are due to the drug carisoprodol (Soma), which is considered a schedule IV controlled substance. That’s because when the drug breaks down in your body, it produces a substance called meprobamate that acts like a tranquilizer. People who become addicted to carisoprodol sometimes abuse the drug because it makes them feel relaxed.

Other kinds of muscle relaxants may be addictive too. Cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril) has also been linked to misuse and abuse.

With prolonged use you can become physically dependent on some muscle relaxants. This means that without the medication, you can have withdrawl symptoms. You may have insomnia, vomiting or anxiety when you stop taking it.

Muscle Relaxant Prescription medications

Prescription medications are divided into two groups: antispasmodics and antispastics.  Antispasmodics are used to treat muscle spasms, and antispastics are used to treat muscle spasticity. Some antispasmodics, such as tizanidine, can be used to treat muscle spasticity. However, antispastics should not be used to treat muscle spasms.

Antispasmodics: Centrally acting skeletal muscle relaxants (SMRs)

Centrally acting SMRs are used in addition to rest and physical therapy to help relieve muscle spasms. They’re thought to work by causing a sedative effect or by preventing your nerves from sending pain signals to your brain.

You should only use these muscle relaxants for up to 2 or 3 weeks. The safety of longer-term use is not yet known.

While antispasmodics can be used to treat muscle spasms, they have not been shown to work better than nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or acetaminophen. In addition, they have more side effects than NSAIDs or acetaminophen.

The more common side effects of centrally acting SMRs include:

      • drowsiness
      • dizziness
      • headache
      • nervousness
      • reddish-purple or orange urine
      • lowered blood pressure upon standing

You should talk to your doctor about the benefits and risks of these medications for the treatment of your muscle spasms.

List of centrally acting SMRs

Generic name Brand name Form Generic available
carisoprodol Soma tablet yes
carisoprodol/aspirin not available tablet yes
carisoprodol/aspirin/codeine not available tablet yes
chlorzoxazone Parafon Forte, Lorzone tablet yes
cyclobenzaprine Fexmid, Flexeril, Amrix tablet, extended-release capsule tablet only
metaxalone Skelaxin, Metaxall tablet yes
methocarbamol Robaxin tablet yes
orphenadrine Norflex extended-release tablet yes
tizanidine Zanaflex tablet, capsule yes

Antispastics

Antispastics are used to treat muscle spasticity. They should not be used to treat muscle spasms. These drugs include:

Baclofen: Baclofen (Lioresal) is used to relieve spasticity caused by MS. It’s not fully understood how it works, but it seems to block nerve signals from the spinal cord that cause muscles to spasm. Side effects can include drowsiness, dizziness, weakness, and fatigue.

Dantrolene: Dantrolene (Dantrium) is used to treat muscle spasms caused by spinal cord injury, stroke, cerebral palsy, or MS. It works by acting directly on the skeletal muscle to relax the muscle spasm. Side effects can include drowsiness, dizziness, lightheadedness, and fatigue.

Diazepam: Diazepam (Valium) is used to relieve muscle spasms caused by inflammation, trauma, or muscle spasticity. It works by increasing the activity of a certain neurotransmitter to decrease the occurrence of muscle spasms. Diazepam is a sedative. Side effects can include drowsiness, fatigue, and muscle weakness.

List of antispastics

Generic name Brand name Form Generic available
baclofen Lioresal, Gablofen, Lioresal tablet, injection yes
dantrolene Dantrium tablet yes
diazepam Valium oral suspension, tablet, injection yes
Warnings for prescription muscle relaxants

Muscle relaxants such as carisoprodol and diazepam can be habit forming. Be sure to take your medication exactly as prescribed by your doctor.

Muscle relaxants can also cause withdrawal symptoms, such as seizures or hallucinations (sensing things that aren’t real). Do not suddenly stop taking your medication, especially if you’ve been taking it for a long time.

Also, muscle relaxants depress your central nervous system (CNS), making it hard to pay attention or stay awake. While taking a muscle relaxant, avoid activities that require mental alertness or coordination, such as driving or using heavy machinery.

You should not take muscle relaxants with:

  • alcohol
  • CNS depressant drugs, such as opioids or psychotropics
  • sleeping medications
  • herbal supplements such as St. John’s wort

Talk to your doctor about how you can safely use muscle relaxants if you:

  • are older than 65 years
  • have a mental health problem or brain disorder
  • have liver problems
Off-label medications for spasticity

Doctors can use certain medications to treat spasticity even when the drugs are not approved for that purpose by the U.S. Food and Drug Association (FDA). This is called off-label drug use. The following drugs are not actually muscle relaxants, but they can still help relieve symptoms of spasticity.

Benzodiazepines

Benzodiazepines are sedatives that can help relax muscles. They work by increasing the effects of certain neurotransmitters, which are chemicals that relay messages between your brain cells.

Examples of benzodiazepines include:

  • clonazepam (Klonopin)
  • lorazepam (Ativan)
  • alprazolam (Xanax)

Side effects of benzodiazepines can include drowsiness and problems with balance and memory. These drugs can also be habit forming.

Clonidine

Clonidine (Kapvay) is thought to work by preventing your nerves from sending pain signals to your brain or by causing a sedative effect.

Clonidine should not be used with other muscle relaxants. Taking it with similar drugs increases your risk of side effects. For instance, taking clonidine with tizanidine can cause very low blood pressure.

Clonidine is available in brand-name and generic versions.

Gabapentin

Gabapentin (Neurontin) is an anticonvulsant drug typically used to relieve seizures. It’s not fully known how gabapentin works to relieve muscle spasticity. Gabapentin is available in brand-name and generic versions.

Over-the-counter options for muscle spasms

OTC treatment is recommended as first-line therapy for muscle spasms caused by conditions such as acute lower back pain or tension headache. This means you should try OTC treatments before prescription medications.

OTC treatment options include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), acetaminophen, or a combination of both. Your doctor or pharmacist can help you choose an OTC treatment.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)

NSAIDs work by blocking your body from making certain substances that cause inflammation and pain. NSAIDs are available in generic and brand-name versions. They’re typically sold over the counter. Stronger versions are available by prescription.

NSAIDs come as oral tablets, capsules, or suspensions. They also come as chewable tablets for children. Side effects of these drugs can include upset stomach and dizziness.

Examples of NSAIDs include:

  • ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin)
  • naproxen (Aleve)

Acetaminophen

Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is thought to work by blocking your body from making certain substances that cause pain. Acetaminophen is available in generic and brand-name versions. It comes as immediate-release and extended release oral tablets and capsules, orally disintegrating tablets, chewable tablets, and oral solutions.

The more common side effects of acetaminophen can include nausea and upset stomach.