Opioids are used for chronic pain or for recreational use, and there is currently an epidemic of opioid addiction in the United States. Opioids induce ED by inhibiting gonado-tropin-releasing hormone (GnRH), which leads to a decrease in the production of luteinizing hormone (LH). Decreased levels of LH, in turn, inhibit production of testosterone, which – in both men and women – can cause depression and sexual dysfunction.9
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ED is caused by vascular, hormonal, neurogenic, pharmacological, or psycho-genic factors. Performance anxiety where the person fears failing in a sexual scenario is a common psychogenic cause for ED.3 Neurogenic causes are related to diseases like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, stroke or spinal cord injuries. Radical removal of the prostate (also called prostatectomy) is the cause of nerve-related ED as nerve injury is possible despite advances in surgical methods.4
By far the most common cause of ED is vascular dysfunction. When the arteries that supply the penis with blood to achieve and maintain an erection are blocked or hardened, or the lining of these arteries are damaged, blood flow is reduced. Vascular dysfunction not only affects the small arteries of the penis, but the larger coronary arteries of the heart too. Astute doctors now recognize that ED may actually be an early warning sign of impending cardiovascular disease, showing up several years before a cardiovascular event like a heart attack or stroke.2 To maintain healthy vascular function, and in turn, normal erectile function, consider these supplements:
A study published in May 2014 in The Journal of Sexual Medicine found that some men can reverse erectile dysfunction with healthy lifestyle changes, such as exercise, weight loss, a varied diet, and good sleep. The Australian researchers also showed that even if erectile dysfunction medication is required, it's likely to be more effective if you implement these healthy lifestyle changes.