Why Can’t I Maintain an Erection?

In most cases, erectile dysfunction (ED) is caused by combination of physical and/or emotional issues. A man could be suffering from decreased blood flow to his penis because of narrowing vessels that supply blood to that area. This is often the issue in older men.

In younger men the issue is not so cut and dried. Often emotional problems are causing you not to be able to maintain an erection. This leads to performance anxiety, depression, guilt and other emotional issues. That’s why it’s important to investigate all areas when looking for an answer. This is not always an issue that can be fixed with another pill.

The medical team at Tri-Cities has been years of experience dealing with these issues. It is important that your schedule an office visit to have a complete workup and consultation to determine the best course of treatment for you.

According to the Boston University School of Sexual Medicine, approximately one-quarter of men between the ages of 40 and 70 struggle with mild to moderate erectile dysfunction. Although the problem is most often seen in older men, researchers also believe that between five and ten percent of men younger than 40 also experience difficulty achieving or maintaining an erection. In order to address the problem, it’s important to understand why it’s happening. However, there are a number of possible reasons why a man can’t get an erection.

Vascular Problems

Vascular problems are the most common cause of erectile dysfunction. Disorders like atherosclerosis and peripheral artery disease (PAD) cause the blood vessels to become narrowed, preventing sufficient blood flow. Depending on where these blockages are located, they can cause inadequate blood supply to the penis, thus disturbing the ability to achieve an erection.


Diabetes, an increasingly common disorder, is another major risk factor for erectile problems. Diabetic men are much more likely to suffer from atherosclerosis. However, the elevated glucose levels in people with diabetes can also result in nerve damage. When this happens, the nerves in the penis cease to function properly, hindering sensitivity.


It’s not just health problems that can keep you from getting an erection. The medications prescribed for those issues may also be contributing. Many common drugs like beta-blockers, diabetes medications, antidepressants, pain medications and corticosteroids can make erections difficult or impossible to achieve for reasons that aren’t always fully understood. Some may simply reduce libido while others can more directly inhibit the physical response to arousal.

Lifestyle Habits

The role of lifestyle is often overlooked when dealing with erectile problems. However, if a man has no other apparent health problems and is not suffering from psychiatric issues, it’s important to investigate lifestyle habits. Being sedentary can cause low hormones and poor blood flow. Smoking is known to cause atherosclerosis. Malnutrition from a poor diet fails to provide the body with the necessary nutrients for healthy sexual function and energy levels. Drinking is also a major factor. Although it lowers inhibitions and can increase libido, it tends to harm performance, even in small amounts.


When looking for potential causes of erectile dysfunction, few people think to check for hypothyroidism. This disorder can be the sole cause of erectile problems in many men. The thyroid controls nearly all of the body’s hormones, including sex hormones. A man with hypothyroidism may experience not only difficulty achieving or keeping an erection but also low sex drive, low muscle mass and low testosterone.

If you experience erectile problems, consider speaking with your doctor. It’s important to identify the underlying cause, which may present serious health threats. Furthermore, there are a variety of medications available that can be used to treat erectile dysfunction.