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What Causes Weak Erection? Treatment

Medically Reviewed on 5/14/2021

A weak erection is a symptom of erectile dysfunction.

Medically, a weak erection is also referred to as erectile dysfunction. The erection of the penis depends on many factors, such as the person’s age, overall health, hormone levels, nerves, blood flow, mental status, and emotions. A weak erection results when these factors get affected.

The chances of erectile dysfunction go up as people grow old. However, age is not the only cause of the weak erection. Certain conditions and diseases can also cause erectile dysfunction. These include

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Obesity
  • Benign enlargement of the prostate
  • Hyperlipidemia (high lipid or cholesterol level)
  • Atherosclerosis (clogged blood vessels that results in their hardening)
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Liver disease
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Sleep disorders
  • Low testosterone level
  • Injury to the penis, prostate, or spinal cord
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Peyronie’s disease (formation of scar tissue under the skin of the penis)
  • Treatments for prostate cancer
    • Radiation therapy
    • Prostate surgery
  • Surgery for bladder cancer

Certain medications can also cause erectile dysfunction as their side effect. These are

  • Anti-hypertensive medicines (medicines for blood pressure)
  • Antiandrogens (medicines used for prostate cancer therapy)
  • Antidepressants (medications for depression)
  • Sedatives (medicines that make a person sleepy)
  • Medicines for ulcers
  • Antihistamines (medicines for cold and allergies)
  • Appetite suppressants

The following addictions can also lead to erectile dysfunction:

  • Smoking
  • Heavy alcohol drinking
  • Using recreational drugs

Psychological issues and emotional turmoil can also cause a weak erection. A person may not feel sexually excited due to issues that include

  • Fear of sexual failure
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Problems in relationships, such as miscommunication, lack of communication, or conflicts
  • Low self-esteem
  • Stress (professional stress, financial stress, stress of sexual performance)

How to treat weak erection

The doctor will take the person’s complete medical history and look for the causes of erectile dysfunction. They will examine the penis and testicles to look for signs of injury and check the person’s nerves for sensation. Depending on the cause, they can recommend various treatment options. Every treatment carries some risks and benefits, which will be explained by the doctor.

The various treatment options include:

Medications: Medicines that cause a strong penile erection are successful in treating erectile dysfunction in most men. These medications work by increasing the amount of blood flow to the penis by increasing nitric oxide levels in the blood. Examples include:

  • Sildenafil
  • Tadalafil
  • Vardenafil
  • Avanafil

If a person has heart disease or suffers from frequent drops in blood pressure, they cannot use them because they might be dangerous. Hence, ask the doctor if suffering from these health issues before taking such medications.

Other medications to treat erectile dysfunction include

  • Alprostadil injectable (shots)
  • Alprostadil urethral suppository (inserted in the urethra)
  • Testosterone replacement therapy

Penile pumps: These are vacuum erection devices with hollow tubes that are put over the penis to suck the air inside the tube. This technique increases the blood flow in the penis and causes a strong erection during sex.

Penile implants: Penile implants are devices that are fitted on both sides of the penis via a surgical procedure. These devices make the penis firm but allow it to bend as well.

Exercise: Moderate to vigorous cardio exercises can help improve erectile dysfunction. Ask the doctor to know the exercises that will work best for a person.

Counseling: If psychological issues, such as stress, anxiety, and depression, are causing weak erections, consult a mental therapist, counselor, or a sexual therapist along with the partner. They can guide a person on techniques to help them get rid of their mental hurdles.


Erectile Dysfunction (ED) Causes and Treatment
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Medically Reviewed on 5/14/2021


Kim ED. Erectile Dysfunction. Medscape.

Mayo Clinic. Erectile Dysfunction.

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