50 Common and not so Common Causes of Weak Erections
Our editorial team discusses 3 ways to fix a weak erection in the
But I’d like to add my 2 cents and discuss what may be causing your weak erection in the first place.
So read on to see some of the most common, and not so common causes of soft erections.
50 Weak Erection Causes
1: Metabolic Syndrome
Men with metabolic syndrome usually suffer from low testosterone, poor nitric oxide production and poor vascular health.
They also frequently have slow digestion and gut inflammation which reduces their ability to extract nutrients from the food they eat, especially the fat soluble vitamins.
This can cause low grade, but chronic, nutrient deficiencies that negatively impact a mans ability to manufacture all the sex hormones.
Which is why men with metabolic syndrome frequently suffer from testicular atrophy and reduced semen production.
Taken together, these issues impact desire, fertility and blood flow, which explains why most men with metabolic syndrome are also dealing with erectile dysfunction.
2: Peyronie’s Disease
Peyronie’s Disease is a condition in which hard plaque (scar tissue) forms on the penis.
This can cause an abnormal curvature of the penis, making sex painful or even impossible for some men.
Men suffering with this condition also frequently experience a shortening of the penis which can cause sexual anxiety and distress.
Emotions that are clearly not conducive to erectile performance.
The valves inside the penis that trap blood are also negatively impacted, which reduces a mans ability to get and stay hard.
The plaque that causes the disease can also do a number on the smooth muscles that facilitate an erection.
For these reasons, it’s very common for men with Peyronie’s Disease to also have erectile dysfunction.
If you’ve noticed any recent curvature in your penis, keep in mind that the cause is usually repeated bouts of coital trauma.
Where the penis bends while having intercourse, which usually happens when a man is thrusting hard with a semi erect penis.
3: Weak Erection Causes – Alcohol Abuse
Chronic, excessive alcohol consumption can dramatically lower testosterone levels while increasing estrogen levels.
That’s a bad thing if you want the general to stand at attention.
Testosterone is a critical hormone for male sexual health and for erectile function.
When your body doesn’t produce enough of it, you won’t have strong sex drive and you won’t be able to maintain a strong erection.
Tons of scientific studies have proven this over the years.
Results have shown that consistent, heavy alcohol consumption can even shrink the testicles. These effects are the worst for those suffering from alcoholism.
If you’re not ready to give up drinking, you’ll find suggestions on how to drink safely at the link just above.
4: Pornography Addiction
Pornography consumption is one of the main erectile dysfunction causes because it’s unnatural, plain and simple.
When you watch it, your brain releases high levels of dopamine which exceed the amount you’d release during normal sex.
If you watch porn regularly, this effect can eventually cause erectile dysfunction.
When your brain develops a tolerance for the elevated dopamine you get from watching porn, real sex just won’t feel exciting anymore.
Once this happens, erectile dysfunction soon follows.
5: Weak Erection Causes – Sleep Apnea
When you have sleep apnea, it can be difficult to get a full, restful night of sleep.
Sleep is critical for maintaining optimal testosterone levels.
When you don’t sleep enough, your testosterone levels take a serious hit. This can make it difficult to become aroused and get an erection.
Over the years, scientific studies have shown a clear link between sleep apnea and erectile dysfunction.
One study published in the Journal of Sex Medicine found that 70% of subjects with sleep apnea had some level of erectile dysfunction.
6: Weak Erection Causes – Drug Addiction
In terms of sex, drug addiction is similar to pornography addiction in the sense that both cause the brain to produce unnaturally high levels of dopamine.
With chronic abuse your D2 dopamine receptors will become desensitized, so it will take a lot of dopamine to light you up.
This means that regular sex won’t provide enough juice to fire up you or your erections.
7: Prescription & OTC Medications
Certain legal and “safe” drugs that you can get from the pharmacy also carry a risk of erectile dysfunction.
The list of drugs that can cause ED include:
- High blood pressure medications (thiazides, beta blockers, alpha blockers)
- Parkinson’s Disease medications
- Hair loss drugs (finasteride, propecia)
8: Cushing’s Syndrome
Cushing’s Syndrome is a medical condition that can occur when the body has too much of the hormone cortisol.
This can occur because of your body’s own overproduction of the hormone, or from taking cortisol medications.
Cortisol is known as the “stress hormone” because it’s produced in our bodies when we get stressed out.
It’s also a natural enemy of testosterone.
If you have high cortisol levels, it’s very likely that your testosterone levels are low. This can cause adverse sexual side effects like erectile dysfunction.
9: Weak Erection Causes – Obesity
Being overweight is bad for your testosterone levels. If you’re obese you probably have low testosterone, and that can cause erectile dysfunction.
Excess body fat causes the aromatase enzyme in your body to go into overdrive. This enzyme actually converts testosterone into estrogen (the female hormone).
As you gain more weight, this effect gets worse and can ultimately result in feminine characteristics in men. The only solution to this problem is to lose the weight.
10: Smoking Tobacco
Smoking does bad things to your blood vessels and cardiovascular system.
Men who smoke experience reduced blood flow throughout the body, including in the vessles that deliver blood to the penis.
Scientific studies have conclusively demonstrated, over and over again, the link between cigarette smoking and ED.
If you can’t quit, consider switching to vaping.
A study that involved 114 subjects found that vascular stiffness improved after only one month after people made the switch from cigarettes to electronic vaping devices.
11: Damaged Blood Vessels
During an erection, the penis fills with blood, which causes the penis to get hard.
When you have damaged blood vessels, they won’t expand as they should which will negatively impact your ability to achieve and sustain an erection.
Poor vascular health is one of the main erectile dysfunction causes in men over 50.
12: High Levels of Stress
Stress can be a powerful enemy of erections. The reason why has to do with the hormone cortisol.
As I said above, cortisol is the stress hormone.
It is produced when you’re stressed for any reason (overtraining in the gym, lack of sleep, demanding work environment, etc.).
If you’re consistently stressed out, this can hurt your body’s natural testosterone production and ultimately cause erectile issues.
If this describes you, it’s important that you take steps to bring your cortisol levels down.
13: Weak Erection Causes – Depression
This is likely because depression messes with neurotransmitter activity in the brain.
An erection starts in the brain, and those neurotransmitters need to fire correctly for you to get one.
Antidepressant drugs like SSRIs aren’t a good solution either – almost all of them have been proven to cause ED. The best solution is to address the underlying cause of your depression.
14: Compulsive Masturbation
Moderation is key when it comes to staying healthy, and that applies to masturbation too.
If you masturbate multiple times a day, you can actually deplete your body of vital hormones and brain neurotransmitters
This is known as sexual exhaustion, a situation which will make it difficult to get a daytime or morning erection.
15: Parkinson’s Disease
When you have Parkinson’s Disease, the nerve cells in your brain gradually begin to die.
As the condition progresses, you may begin to lose the nerve cells that produce dopamine in the brain.
This can cause your dopamine levels to plummet.
Ultimately, this can make it difficult to get an erection because dopamine is a crucial part of the erection and ejaculatory process
16: Weak Erection Causes – Insomnia
Sleep is probably the single most important thing when it comes to testosterone levels.
If you’re not sleeping enough each night due to insomnia, then your T levels are probably lower than they should be.
Studies have proven that the target number for optimal testosterone levels is 7-8 hours of sleep per night.
One study even showed that guys who slept just 4 hours per night had less than half the testosterone in their bodies compared to those who slept 8 hours.
You’ll find info on how I’ve drastically increase the quality and quantity of my sleep here.
17: Prostate Cancer Causes Weak Erections
When you have prostate cancer, surgery is often the first course of action.
However, these procedures can damage the sensitive nerves and blood vessels that are crucial for achieving an erection.
Radiation therapy can damage can these sensitive areas as well.
18: Back Pain or Injury
When talking about back injuries and erectile dysfunction, we’re really talking about damage or pinching of the sciatic nerve.
This is the largest nerve in the body and it’s critical for everything from walking to getting an erection.
If your sciatic nerve is damaged or pinched in some way, it won’t be able to send the proper signals from the brain to the penis to cause an erection.
19: Multiple Sclerosis
Erectile dysfunction is one of the most common side effects of Multiple Sclerosis.
Studies have shown that up to 90% of men with Multiple Sclerosis suffer from ED.
The reason why is because Multiple Sclerosis can cause serious nerve damage.
Some of these nerves are responsible for sending signals between the brain and penis to cause an erection.
If they are damaged, the signals won’t get through.
20: Relationship Negativity
Erections are just as much physical as they are mental. Meaning, the cause of your erectile issues might be psychological.
If you’re unhappy in your relationship or if negativity between you and your partner is causing stress, this can impact your ability to perform when it counts.
21: High Prolactin
Prolactin is the hormone that causes pregnant women to produce milk. However, this hormone is also found in men.
When men have high levels of prolactin, their testosterone levels drop and their sex drive goes in the toilet.
This situation often leads to poor erection quality or even downright erectile dysfunction.
22: Low Testosterone
Testosterone is important for overall male health, but it’s absolutely critical for sexual performance.
If your testosterone levels are lower than they should be, you won’t have strong libido or sex drive and your erections will eventually falter.
If you think you may have low-t, read this blog post to learn how to get your levels back up.
23: Chemical Exposure
The modern world loves chemicals, but many of them are seriously bad for our health.
A select few of them are also proven to negatively affect male sexual health.
I’m talking about chemicals known as endocrine disruptors and xenoestrogens. These can mess with your body’s hormone production and lower testosterone levels.
Here are a few of the worst offenders:
- Bisphenol A
24: Weak Erection Causes – Performance Anxiety
Anxiety happens in the brain, but it can have a real impact on the physical body.
If you focus too much on your anxiety, that thing you’re anxious about is actually more likely to happen.
In this case, anxiety or worry about sexual performance can result in failure to get an erection.
25: Radiation Exposure
Radiation is generally not a good thing for our health. When it comes to sex and erections, this is all too true.
Radiation therapy is common for conditions like prostate cancer.
Studies have shown that within 5 years of this therapy, about 50% of men are likely to develop erectile dysfunction.
Devices like smartphones also emit radiation.
Studies have shown that prolonged smartphone use (and proximity to the testicles) can increase the risk of ED.
26: Weak Erection Causes – Stroke
When you have a stroke, parts of the brain become damaged. In some stroke patients, this can negatively impact sexual function and erections.
Studies have shown that more than 50% of men who have a stroke will suffer from a lack of sexual desire and difficulty getting an erection.
These effects are worst when the right cerebellum and the left basal ganglia are damaged in the brain.
27: Spinal Cord Injury
Spinal cord injuries are serious. They can impact many different body parts and functions in ways that you might not expect.
The spinal cord actually plays an important role in erections.
It is one of the primary channels for signals to travel from your brain to the lower part of your body.
If the spinal cord is damaged, the signals which tell your penis to get hard won’t get sent.
28: Epilepsy Causes Weak Erections
Studies have shown that epilepsy is proven to cause erectile dysfunction, though not for all men.
There are a few possible reasons for this, the primary one being that epilepsy can affect the temporal lobe of the brain and mess with your sex hormones.
Additionally, some epilepsy medications carry a risk of ED.
29: Hypothyroidism (low thyroid)
The thyroid is a small gland that produces thyroid hormones.
These hormones are critical for muscle and bone health, brain development, and metabolism.
They also plays a key role in sexual arousal and erections.
When your thyroid isn’t producing enough, you may have trouble getting an erection.
Numerous studies have been done on this topic.
A review of the data suggests that low thyroid contributes to about 6% of all erectile dysfunction cases (source).
30: Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid)
Having too much thyroid hormone because of an overactive thyroid can also contribute to erectile issues.
Having too much thyroid hormone can actually lower testosterone levels.
This can cause a range of issues like erectile dysfunction, premature baldness, and loss of muscle mass.
31: Elevated Estrogen
When your estrogen levels are high, this typically means your body is converting too much of your testosterone into estrogen.
That will result in low testosterone and the erectile issues that usually come along with it.
32: Fear of Intimacy
Erections are as much mental as they are physical.
If there’s something in your head holding you back from getting intimate with your partner, it’s very likely you won’t be able to achieve a strong erection.
Or put another way, if you lack the drive to breed with your partner, your penis is going to stay in park.
33: Hardcore Cycling Causes Weak Erections
When you ride a bike, the seat puts pressure on the perineum – that’s the area between your anus and genitals.
Over time, this pressure can restrict blood flow to the penis and cause erectile problems.
The good news is that this typically goes away once you stop or cut down your cycling.
You can also try using a padded saddle or using padded shorts to reduce the impact.
34: Alzheimer’s Disease
In people with Alzheimer’s, the neurons in the brain gradually stop working.
These neurons are crucial for sending signals from the brain and other parts of our bodies.
When your neurons break down, your brain cannot send out the proper signals.
In terms of sex, this means the communication between the brain and the penis stops functioning as it should.
35: High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure damages the lining of the blood vessels and causes arteries to harden and narrow (atherosclerosis), which limits blood flow.
One study in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that about 50% of men ages 40-79 with high blood pressure had erectile dysfunction.
Another study in the Journal of Urology found the number to be around 68%.
36: Weak Erection Causes – Nerve Damage
Nerve damage is a primary reason why Parkinson’s, Multiple Sclerosis, and back injuries carry some risk of erectile dysfunction.
The various nerves in your body are critical for sending the proper signals from your brain to your penis. If the signals cannot get through, you won’t be able to get an erection.
37: Scleroderma (hardening of the skin)
Scleroderma, also called systemic sclerosis, primarily causes hardening of the skin.
However, it can also impact the internal organs and blood vessels.
In many cases, scleroderma can contribute to erectile dysfunction by restricting blood flow to the penis.
Numerous studies have shown that the majority of men with scleroderma also suffer from some level of ED.
38: Liver Cirrhosis
In men, cirrhosis of the liver is known to cause a decrease in sex drive, testicular atrophy, and even gynecomastia (man boobs).
All of these things can make it difficult to get an erection.
On top of that, all these effects are linked to low testosterone.
That’s not a surprise when you consider that two of the biggest risk factors for cirrhosis are alcoholism and obesity – two things which are proven to seriously lower T levels.
39: Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
Also known as COPD, this disease makes it difficult to breath.
As a result, people with COPD often have lower than normal blood oxygen levels.
Studies have shown that this could be a cause of erectile dysfunction.
One study found that 68% of men with COPD had some level of erectile dysfunction, and all of those men had low blood oxygen levels.
40: Kidney Failure Causes Weak Erections
In people with kidney disease or kidney failure, the body will experience changes related to this condition.
Those changes include hormonal changes which can impact testosterone production.
This can reduce your overall sex drive and make it difficult to get a strong erection.
Additionally, many of the medications used to treat kidney issues have some risk of ED (blood pressure meds, beta blockers, diuretics, etc.).
41: High Cholesterol
When you have high levels of “bad” cholesterol (LDL), a common side effect is a buildup of plaque in your arteries.
This can restrict blood flow throughout your body.
This is no good if you want to get a strong erection.
When your blood can’t flow freely through your body, you may not be able to get enough blood into your penis to achieve and maintain an erection.
42: Guillain Barre Syndrome
This rare syndrome occurs when your body’s immune system attacks your own nerves.
The result is that your nerves become unable to send signals to and from your brain.
In severe cases, your brain won’t be able to send the proper signals to your penis.
43: Sickle Cell Anemia
When you have sickle cell anemia, your body doesn’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout your body.
Your blood vessels can also become blocked by the sickle-shaped red blood cells which give this condition its name.
The result is that your body won’t be able to get enough oxygen-rich blood to your penis to cause an erection.
44: Pelvic Floor Injury
The pelvic floor muscles support your bladder, prostate, and rectum.
They hold all these organs in place and help control urination and bowel movements.
If you have a pelvic floor muscle injury, your body may not be able to relax or flex these muscles properly.
In men, this can result in difficulty getting and maintaining an erection.
45: Weak Erection Causes – Hypogonadism
Hypogonadism is the medical term for a condition in which the body doesn’t produce enough testosterone.
Hypogonadism is always going to cause sexual health issues because testosterone is critical for male sexual performance.
Without enough of it, you won’t have strong sex drive and your erections will falter.
46: Hemachromatosis (too much iron)
Iron is important for male health, but too much of it can cause problems.
When you have hemachromatosis, your body cannot process and remove excess iron.
As a result, it gets deposited in your heart, liver and testicles.
Over time, this excess iron in your testicles can cause severe sexual dysfunction.
Some sources say that up to 45% of men with hemochromatosis are impotent.
47: Periodontitis (gum disease)
There is plenty of scientific evidence out there showing that gum disease can be a risk factor for vascular problems.
Meaning, periodontitis can cause arterial problems and hinder blood flow throughout your body.
This can ultimately cause erectile issues since you need strong blood flow into the penis to get an erection.
48: Weak Erection Causes – Enlarged Prostate
When the prostate is enlarged, it presses against the organs and arteries around it.
This can make it difficult to urinate.
It can also prevent enough blood from flowing into the penis to cause an erection.
One study published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings found that sexual function and symptoms of an enlarged prostate were closely related.
Over 2,000 men were studied – results showed that as enlarged prostate symptoms got worse, sexual function consistently decreased.
49: Lack of Vitamin D
Vitamin D is a crucial vitamin for male sexual health. It has been proven to increase testosterone levels in men who consistently get enough of the vitamin.
However, the inverse is true too: vitamin D deficiency is linked to low testosterone.
Studies have also shown that the more depleted a man is in vitamin D, the more likely he is to experience erectile dysfunction.
50: Hair Loss Drugs (finasteride)
Hair loss drugs including finasteride and propecia attempt to fight hair loss by blocking DHT (dihydrotestosterone).
It appears that DHT plays a role in pattern hair loss, so blocking it seems to be a good solution.
However, in truth that is not the case. While DHT might contribute to hair loss, it also plays a critical role in male sexual development.
Blocking it by taking these drugs has been proven in multiple studies to cause erectile dysfunction.
Now here’s Jason with more….
Weak Erection Causes – How to Fix Common Causes of ED
Erection health isn’t a binary thing. Some unfortunate folks aren’t able to get erections at all because of illness, injury, psychological factors, relationship problems, diet, or any number of situations alone or in combination.
Other people never have trouble getting it up, and have long, strong erections when they do.
In the middle, a majority of men are able to get some kind of erection, but are sometimes (or often) unhappy with the strength or duration of the action.
If you’re one of these men, don’t despair. I have three proven solutions that will get your little soldier to salute with the enthusiasm you’ve wanted, and for as long as your partner has been hoping for.
Use Herbs to Boost Weak Erections
If you’re getting plenty of exercise and sleep, not drinking too much, and leading a reasonably stress-free life, chances are your weak erections can be fixed by taking the right herbs.
They can tweak and fine-tune your hormone production and dietary intake to optimize your sexual performance. A few of the herbs most effective for the task include:
Any of these supplements can help you get stronger erections and keep them once you have them, but you’ll get better results from cycling through several so you avoid a negative feedback loop where you get less from each successive dose of any given supplement.
I recommend stocking all seven, and move through a dose of everyone over the course of a week.
Consume Plant Nitrates for Stronger Erections
We’ve talked before about how Nitric Oxide (NO) is a vital chemical in your body for maintaining erections and having orgasms.
It’s the substance that opens blood vessels to your penis and fuels the physical process that builds an erection.
If your body is short on NO for any reason, a weaker erection than you’re used to is a predictable result.
You can fight NO deficiency by eating foods with plant nitrates.
This will improve your blood’s NO content, giving your system the NO supply it needs to have healthier erections and better sex.
An incomplete list of foods with high plant nitrate content includes beets, kale, chard, celery, lettuce, grapes, arugula, spinach, blueberries, strawberries and pomegranates.
You will get the highest nitrate intake and best possible results by eating the foods raw, since nutrients of all sorts leach out of vegetables when you cook them.
If you choose to juice your nitrate foods for easier consumption, you should drink it quickly because the nitrate levels drop with every second after juicing.
Finally, let the food or juice sit in your mouth for 10 seconds before you swallow.
The bacteria in your mouth has to go to work on them chemically before your body can begin converting the plant nitrates into NO.
Avoid Dopamine Burnout to Fix Weak Erections
This one has been all over the news for the past couple of years, especially the press that’s conservative, super-religious, or otherwise sex- and porn-unfriendly.
Because those groups jumped on it first and hardest, it can be tempting to dismiss the claims that porn can hurt your sex life as the hysteria of a bunch of prudes.
But we’d be wrong if we did that.
Having an orgasm from any source fires a bunch of dopamine (one of your feel-good hormones) into your brain.
Having an orgasm from online porn fires even more dopamine into your brain because it also hits the pleasure centers associated with screen addiction.
This double dosage can lead to a dopamine tolerance, like an alcoholic who can “hold his liquor” or the mechanics behind developing type 2 diabetes through insulin resistance.
That means weaker erections when your brain only gets the dopamine hit from person-to-person sexual arousal.
Worse news: recent research suggest other forms of screen addiction — even social media or video game addiction and Netflix binging — can cause similar erectile problems.
Bottom line: if you need a little extra lead in your pencil, spend less time interacting with people on screen and more time with face-to-face (and body-to-body) connections.
Weak Erection Causes – Conclusion
As with every other aspect of sexual health, look first at your lifestyle for causes.
If you’re sleeping two hours a night between vicious fights with your partner, working a stressful job, eating fast food and drinking half a bottle of whiskey every night…
Well, none of this fine-tuning is going to do you any good. It would be like souping up a car with a bad transmission.
But if you have your lifestyle, diet and general health under control, try a combination of these three methods to soup up your sex life with harder, longer erections to please you and your partner:
Cycle through seven erectile health herbs, with daily doses of one on Monday, another on Tuesday, a third on Wednesday, etc.
Add a serving of two to three plant-nitrate-rich foods to your diet every day. Cycle between different fruits and veggies for the same reasons as you wouldn’t take the same supplement every day.
While you’re at it, learn to make a couple of delicious salads or side dishes featuring these foods.
Unplug from screens frequently, and spend that time instead building stronger relationships with your friends and with your partner.
You can get solid results from even one of these efforts, but combining all three is practically guaranteed to improve your sexual health.
Especially if you really make a go at the third one.
Replacing screen time with face time not only addresses one of the most common causes of erectile dysfunction…
It also allows you to address lifestyle issues by giving you more free time to pursue your physical, mental and emotional health.