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3 Myths About Erectile Dysfunction (And 1 Surprising Truth)

Man looking out over Auckland City

Busting a common bedroom myth or three.


Chances are you know erectile dysfunction (ED) is the inability to get or keep an erection.

But did you know it’s so common an issue that most men will experience some difficulty with the dysfunction at some point in their life?

For some men, this can cause problems with increased stress and anxiety, affect self-confidence and contribute to relationship difficulties.

Despite the wealth of information available, there are many misconceptions around the causes, symptoms and treatment of erectile dysfunction. Mainly because ED is a challenging topic for men to talk about.

Yes, that includes you!

With this in mind, here are three common myths exposed…

Myth: Only older men suffer from erectile dysfunction

Couple looking out to sea

While erectile dysfunction is more common among older men, youth doesn’t offer immunity which means, conversely, ED doesn’t necessarily have to be part of the ageing process.

Studies show a quarter to one-third of men under forty experience ED. However, if you’re younger you’re more likely to experience ED issues that are most often caused by smoking, alcohol and drug use as well as psychological factors like depression and performance anxiety.

On the other hand, if you’re older, issues with erectile dysfunction are more likely to be linked with physiological issues like high cholesterol, heart disease, Parkinson’s disease, obesity and certain medications.


Regardless of age, most men are affected by erectile dysfunction at some stage of life.

Myth: There is no treatment for erectile dysfunction

A man with his head in his hands

If you’re anything like most men, chances are you believe that once you have ED problems - or even experience a couple of hiccups - your sex life is over.

For good!

While there may have been a time when you felt like you needed to stay quiet about your issues below the belt, the recent rise in awareness and advances in medical treatments means that, thankfully, this is no longer the case.

In fact, just because you’re having a hard time...having a hard time, doesn’t mean you’re sworn to a life of celibacy.


Whether the causes are emotional or physical, there are a range of ways to treat ED including:

Myth: Erectile dysfunction is only caused by physical issues (or ED is all in your head)

A couple stand in a wheat field

Physical or psychological issues are usually blamed for erectile dysfunction.

The truth is that, more often than not, it’s a combination of both.

You see, erections are complicated. Getting an erection involves your brain, nerves, blood vessels, muscles and hormones. Just one kink in the system can throw your body off, which means erectile dysfunction can result from a problem with any of these.

Likewise, stress, emotions and mental health issues can further compound erectile dysfunction.

For example, a physical issue may slow a sexual response, which in turn causes anxiety about sustaining an erection, and the increased anxiety leads to erectile dysfunction.


Erectile dysfunction is due to a wide range of causes:

  • Some medications for blood pressure, depression and anxiety.
  • Heart problems, including hardening of the arteries or high blood pressure.
  • High cholesterol.
  • Parkinson's disease or multiple sclerosis.
  • Sleep disorders.
  • Stress.
  • Obesity.
  • Depression, anxiety or other mental health conditions.
  • Diabetes.
  • Hormone problems.
  • Smoking, alcoholism and other forms of substance abuse.
  • Relationship problems due to stress, poor communication or other concerns.

Truth: Having problems getting an erection doesn’t necessarily lead to erectile dysfunction

Man looks out of window

There are many reasons why you may not be able to achieve an erection.

Fatigue is one.

Just not being in the mood can be another.

Or maybe you’ve just had one too many drinks.

Personal issues, anxiety, worry and the pressure to perform can all take their toll. The good news for you is, sometimes having problems getting an erection doesn’t necessarily lead to chronic ED.

Instead, your inability to turn it on between the sheets may simple be a one-off occurrence. However if the issues do persist, consulting a doctor should be your first step, no matter how embarrassing, to rule out any other underlying health conditions.

The ‘hard’ truth

Most men will experience erectile dysfunction at some point in their lives. Yes, even you! By busting these common myths and better understanding the causes, you can seek treatment and minimise other potential consequences including health issues, increased anxiety and relationship breakdowns.


  • Men of all ages experience erectile dysfunction.
  • A range of both physical and emotional issues can cause erectile dysfunction.
  • Erectile dysfunction can be treated in a variety of ways.
  • Not getting an erection doesn’t necessarily lead to ongoing erectile dysfunction.


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