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Health Information Center

Risk Factors for Erectile Dysfunction (Impotence)

  • Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Publication Type:

Condition InDepth

Risk Factors for Erectile Dysfunction (Impotence)

A risk factor is something that raises the chances of getting a health problem. A person can get asthma with or without the ones listed below. The chances of getting erectile dysfunction (ED) are greater in people who have many risk factors.

Things that can raise the risk are:


The risk of ED rises with age. It is most common in men over 40 years of age.

Health Problems

Certain health problems can raise the risk of ED, such as:


Surgical or accidental trauma can raise the risk of erectile dysfunction. It may be caused by:

  • Vascular surgery
  • Urological surgery such as prostate surgery
  • Pelvic surgeries, especially for prostate cancer
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Colorectal surgeries
  • Surgeries and radiation done to treat cancer


Some lifestyle factors can raise the risk of ED. These are:


Some medicines can raise the risk of ED. These are:

  • High blood pressure medicines
  • Antihistamines
  • Antidepressants
  • Tranquilizers
  • Antipsychotics
  • Histamine blockers
  • Nicotine
  • Chemotherapy


  • Erectile dysfunction. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/erectile-dysfunction.
  • Erectile dysfunction. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/urologic-diseases/erectile-dysfunction.
  • Erectile dysfunction (ED). Urology Care Foundation website. Available at: https://www.itstimetotalkaboutoab.org/urology-a-z/e/erectile-dysfunction-(ed).
  • Rew KT, Heidelbaugh JJ. Erectile dysfunction. Am Fam Physician. 2016;94(10):820-827.


  • Mark S. Itzkowitz, MD, JD
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.