Erectile Dysfunction Risk factors

Unhealthy living and risk of erectile dysfunction

Unhealthy living is associated with increased risk of erectile dysfunction.

Beside age, risk factors for erection problems include:

  • cigarette smoke: both past and current smoking have been associated with an increased risk, and cumulative smoking history significantly impacts on erectile dysfunction development
  • lack of physical activity: moderate to high levels of physical activity are associated with risk reduction
  • unhealthy diets: healthier dietary habits have been associated with reduced erectile dysfunction risk
  • drinking too much alcohol
  • illegal drug, in particular opioids use


A poor lifestyle (in particular low physical activity) does not sufficiently train vascular system to produce health benefits, and this pose at risk of poor vascular function. Since erection is dependent on hemodynamic phenomena, such a poor vascular function can interfere with it.


Moreover, erectile dysfunction risk is associated with polymorphisms in the gene for endothelial nitric oxide synthase, to various markers of cardiovascular disease and to several medical conditions, including:

  • diabetes;
  • depression;
  • obstructive sleep apnea;
  • ankylosing spondylitis;
  • chronic prostatitis or pelvic pain syndrome;
  • psoriasis;
  • chronic periodontitis;
  • gout;
  • HIV infection;
  • platelet volume.


Because of the interconnection between several different risk factors (for example between diabetes, poor diet, obesity, low physical activity and cardiovascular diseases) identifying the primary one can be challenging.

Other risk factors seem to act independently, in particular smoking and low physical activity.