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Erectile dysfunction risk factors: here’s the risks you should know about

Written by Mojo, medically reviewed
by Dr Matthew Chan, Medical Doctor

Girl and boy sit talking at a table with two cocktails

When you know the common risk factors associated with erectile dysfunction, you can take steps to minimize them. This might sound boring, but it’s actually the key to some mind-blowing bedroom fun. 

The first rule of ED risk factors: separate the science from the woo woo

An ‘erectile dysfunction risk factor’ is a pretty scary sounding label. But it just describes all the things experts believe can make ED more likely to happen. 

Notice how we said experts there, not old wives. 

Doctors and psychologists use years of training to identify scientific risks from trusted studies. 

On the other hand, old wives (of all genders) use a combination of imagination, animated discussion, and tea making skills to come up with theirs. 

The second rule of risk factors for ED: a risk is just a risk

Now, the list of risks and causes for ED might look really similar, but it’s important to understand the difference in their definition. 

Just because a risk applies to you, it doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get erectile dysfunction. And even if you do develop ED at some point, it could be for a completely different reason.

A risk only becomes a cause when it describes something that is directly contributing to your erectile dysfunction. You can find out more about ED causes here.

Dr Matthew Chan tells us that risk factors are nothing to worry about, but it’s important to be aware of them, and do what we can do reduce the risks of getting ED:

“Our experience has shown us that lots of men get ED, and lots of men don’t, even those technically in ‘at risk’ groups.

For example, we know eating a lot of fatty food increases your risk of heart issues, which can lead to ED, but this isn’t a hard and fast rule.

That’s why it’s best to think of risks as good information. They can help you make lifestyle choices to best support your overall health, happiness and penis – when he’s up and when he’s down.” 

Matthew Chan, Medical Doctor

What common risk factors are associated with ED?

There’s lots of psychological, physical, and lifestyle reasons which can bump up the chances of ED.

These include: 

  • vascular conditions which affect the body’s blood flow and can trigger ED. Diabetes, high cholesterol and heart conditions are all common risk factors (but less so in younger men) 
  • mental health issues such as stress, anxiety, depression or performance anxiety can increase the risk of psychological ED
  • smoking restricts blood flow to veins and arteries. Over time this can result in erectile dysfunction
  • being overweight (especially if you’re obese) can be riskier when it comes to ED
  • some medical treatments and surgeries such as prostate surgery or radiation therapy for cancer
  • some medications including many antidepressants and meds to treat high blood pressure or prostate problems 
  • drugs can give you a one-time bout of ED, or lead to longer term issues, especially if you’ve been using for a long time
  • alcohol, like drugs, can cause more frequent disruption downstairs if you’re drinking too much, too often
  • life events such as grief, divorce or trying for a baby can put stress on the mind and body and make it difficult to get hard

How can you minimize the risk of ED?

Head over to our preventing ED blog post, to find out how you can minimize some of these risks and help prevent erectile dysfunction happening now or in the future. 

Mojo also has loads of other content, to help you find out more about risk factors and causes of erection issues. You can sign up to our free trial to continue learning about how to keep your penis in its prime.

Or, if you’d prefer, check out our Community Forum to anonymously read posts from other guys who have shared their experiences with struggling to get it up. 

Surrender to the rabbit hole. 


Mojo aims to provide useful wellbeing resources to its users; however, you should not solely rely on opinions or advice available on the Website or given by the Community. Always seek advice from a qualified medical doctor or other healthcare professional before acting.