Mental causes of erectile dysfunction

A significant number of all erectile dysfunction cases stem from mental or psychological factors. Research has shown that mental causes account for up to 20% of all cases. Succinctly put, sometimes, it’s all in the head. There are a number of mental or psychological factors that play a major role in the development of erectile dysfunction. Here is a brief highlight of some of these factors:

Relationship Problems

It’s quite common to have trouble getting it up in the bedroom when your relationship is not at its best. Some of the triggers include the following:

  • Lack of closeness and contact, and growing apart for lack of enough time to spend together.
  • Lack of, or poor communication about your feelings, desires, needs, and expectations.
  • Negative communication such as constant nagging and scolding
  • Dissatisfaction with the sharing of tasks and responsibilities
  • Boredom creeping in because the relationship has become stale and routine
  • Different relationship goals, such as one partner wanting children when the other does not
  • Problems due to the failing health of one partner
  • The diminishing of the affection once shared between partners
  • Feeling of jealousy and being overly protective
  • Extramarital affairs, both physical and emotional

Stress And Anxiety

Wherever it may be stemming from, stress and anxiety can cause psychological erectile dysfunction. Stressing over work and finances among other things will burden the mind so much that sexual stimuli will not lead to that healthy erection. It should also be noted that psychological erectile dysfunction is fairly common among men who suffer from different anxiety disorders. For both the young and old, anxiety is a significant factor behind erectile Dysfunction.


Stress and anxiety may culminate in depression. There are, however, other factors that may drive one into a depressed state. Depression may leave one feeling lethargic and experiencing a loss of interest in being sexual with their partner. The feelings of emptiness and worthlessness that often accompany bouts of depression also make it quite difficult to get in the mood for any form of sexual activity.

It has also been shown that some antidepressants affect sexual desire and arousal. Unfortunately, it would seem that while the medication may be treating one problem, it’s only creating another.

Previous Bad/Traumatic Sexual Experiences

Men who have been the victim of sexual abuse or trauma in the past, however long ago that may be, may experience erectile dysfunction. The same goes for even consensual sexual encounters that were far from pleasant. Before one is able to overcome the mental block that memories of these experiences bring up, libido and achieving sexual arousal may remain to be a challenge.

Performance Anxiety

Not being able to fully rise to the occasion may very well just be the nerves. Worrying too much about being able to please one’s sexual partner, or ejaculating way too early can cause erectile dysfunction. Worrying about not being able to achieve and maintain an erection could also lead to exactly that. The fear of failure between the sheets is a legit fear with both the young and older demographic. Performance anxiety is also not just for the sexually inexperienced.

Pornography Addiction

Dependence on pornography can cause one not to respond to the sexual stimuli projected by a real-life partner. Men who watch and masturbate to pornography too much begin to have unrealistic expectations when it comes to sex. They may fail to achieve arousal if their real life partners cannot match these expectations, which is usually the case. The guilt and shame of porn addiction may also weigh down one’s mind and emotion, making it difficult to achieve arousal and experience sexual pleasure.

Unexplored Sexual Orientation

It’s not difficult to see why a closeted homosexual man in a heterosexual relationship or marriage may have trouble with erectile dysfunction. The same can be expected of a man who is heterosexual but is involved in a homosexual relationship. If the sexual attraction is not there, then arousal will be near impossible to achieve. Sex begins in the mind. With erectile dysfunction, it is as much about the psychological as it is physiological. Overcoming psychological erectile dysfunction requires first identifying the underlying mental cause, and finding a working and lasting solution for the problem(s.)


Disclaimer: This page was created by non-medical professionals. The authors have carried out careful research. The information on this page is intended to help you prepare for a doctor’s visit and to facilitate the conversation with the doctor. You can not replace the conversation with the doctor!