Can Stress Cause ED: How Stress And Anxiety Affects Men Sexually

Can stress cause erectile dysfunction? Stress and anxiety can have a significant impact on a man sexually. Find out how to better manage your stress and treat your ED.

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Hands on, practical experience – this is our expertise
by The Promescent Team Last updated 12/11/2023

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The inability to get and maintain an erection is a common sexual dysfunction and can affect men of any age, lifestyle, and background. In the US alone, 30 million men struggle with erectile dysfunction (ED).

Cases of ED can be short-term or long-term and be caused by psychological, physical, and environmental factors.

Stress not only affects our psychological and mental health, but it can also directly cause health problems, including high blood pressure, heart disease, and erectile dysfunction.

Quick FAQs

Yes, stress can disrupt the bodies response to brain signals, such as ones signaling the penis to allow extra blood flow.

You may have stress-related ED if you're currently experiencing high levels of stress, worry about pleasing your partner, and still get morning erections.

ED caused by stress can be treated by eating healthier, being more physically active, and minimizing your stressors through actions such as creating a budget and communicating with your partner.

Psychological erectile dysfunction can be caused by stress and is common, especially in younger men. Stress related ED is usually a short-term sexual dysfunction that is curable with the right treatments.

Can Stress Cause Erectile Dysfunction?

Erections come on in three ways - by physical stimulation, visual or mental associations, and while we sleep.

Erectile dysfunction can happen when any one of those systems or processes is interrupted.

Stress and other psychological issues may affect the way the body responds to brain signals, including those that are sent to the penis to allow for extra blood flow.

Out-of-control stress can lead to various other issues that can cause or worsen erectile dysfunction.

  • Anxiety - it can interrupt how the brain sends messages to the penis to increase blood flow and make an erection occur.
  • Depression - The loss of interest in sex due to depression can  make erections more difficult to achieve.
  • High blood pressure - When blood pressure is high, artery walls are damaged, reducing blood flow to the penis.
  • Sleep problems - Sleep disorders may increase the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease, which are known risk factors for ED.
  • Migraines - Migraines have been proven to be associated with a high risk of ED.
  • Excessive alcohol consumption - Too much drinking can cause dehydration, increasing angiotensin in the body, which is a hormone associated with ED.
  • Illicit drug use - Illegal drugs have been proven to have adverse effects on erectile function.

Even though stress is commonly known to cause mental issues, it doesn't just affect our brains. It affects physical issues, such as blood pressure, resulting in the narrowing of blood vessels causing less blood flow to the penis.

It's important to try different treatments to help increase blood flow to the penis.

Doctor's Insight: Try taking VitaFLUX Nitric Oxide Booster to help increase blood flow by boosting your nitric oxide production.

Why can stress lead to ED?

Part of our biological survival mechanism is to respond to stress. Our flight or fight response is triggered when there is a real or perceived threat and releases adrenaline and cortisol.

While adrenaline peaks and leaves your system, cortisol sticks around for a few hours, even after the threat has passed.

Prolonged and chronic stress means that you're releasing adrenaline and cortisol, which will lead to stress-related issues, including high blood pressure and erectile dysfunction.

Too much stress can also cause uncomfortable and even outright debilitating symptoms, which can interfere with your life inside and outside the bedroom.

  • high irritability
  • bad mood
  • insomnia
  • migraines and headaches
  • chest pain
  • indigestion and heartburn
  • gastrointestinal issues

Stress will also kill the sex drive, and without arousal, there is no erection. In some cases of ED, due to stress, a man may achieve an erection but is unable to sustain it.

Long-term stress, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), increases hormone levels in a man's body, interfering with the body's processes and leading to other health problems that can lead to ED.

According to a study of combat veterans, men with PTSD are three times more likely to experience erectile dysfunction than those without it.

Research has found that as men age, they're more likely to develop erectile dysfunction.

With that said, a man in his 40s has a 40% chance of having some form of ED. And 8% of men in their 20s have experienced a form of erectile dysfunction.

In younger men, erectile dysfunction is more commonly psychological and less physical than in older men. Here are a few questions to consider:

  • Do you achieve an erection while masturbating but not with your partner?
  • Are you experiencing normal morning erections?
  • Are you encountering high levels of stress and anxiety?
  • Do you worry about not pleasing your partner?

What Causes Stress?

We are made to react to stress - good or bad. Our bodies automatically respond with physical, psychological, and emotional processes.

But sometimes, we aren't aware of all of the things that can contribute to bad stress or the damage it's doing.

  • fear of aging
  • marriage
  • divorce
  • deadlines
  • legal problems
  • money problems
  • sickness
  • job loss and unemployment
  • retirement
  • new job
  • parenting problems

Some men experiencing personal and professional stress can develop short-term erection dysfunction, which is treatable.

Treating ED Caused by Stress

Studies show a change in diet that includes folic acid, vitamin D, niacin, vitamin C, and L-arginine can help with symptoms of ED.

Good eating habits contribute to a healthy heart and blood vessels that help achieve better erections.

In another study, nutrition, along with lifestyle changes, can prevent or reduce sexual dysfunction.

Part of changing one's lifestyle includes increasing your physical activity. By taking a 40-minute walk or cycling around the neighborhood, you can reduce your stress and symptoms of erectile dysfunction.

The behavioral changes you can make to help with ED include exercise, not consuming alcohol, and quitting smoking.

Managing the stress that causes impotence

Chronic stress can't always be cured by changing what you eat or getting off the couch. But you can find ways to manage the level of stress to reduce the risk of developing erectile dysfunction.

Reduce stress

Research shows that meditation, breathing exercises, and muscle relaxation can help people manage stress levels, especially in moments of heightened anxiety.

The same study shows that support groups and speaking with others that struggle with ED improve stress levels and penis function.

Talk to your partner.

Talking about erectile dysfunction with anyone isn't easy, especially our partners.

But, moving beyond your stress will require you to communicate and work with your partner to come up with solutions.

The trust and support that comes from hard conversations often bring couples closer together physically and emotionally.

Doctor's Insight: For some people dealing with ED talking to a sex therapist can help. Find out how to get started with sex therapy from the experts at Promescent.

Create a budget

So much stress revolves around finances and how much money is in the bank.

By creating a budget, you regain the feeling of control and reduce the fear of the future.

Eliminating existential dread and saving for the future significantly reduces stress and anxiety, which will help ED due to stress.

Seek therapy

According to research, cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) is an effective treatment for erectile dysfunction.

CBT helps people recognize the negative thoughts that lead to the ED and shift them into positive ones.

Other forms of counseling and therapy, such as psychodynamic therapy and sex therapy, have shown results when treating erectile dysfunction.

ED Medications

Lifestyle, diet, and therapy might not work for your stress-related erectile dysfunction. Doctor-prescribed medication is sometimes needed to address the physical causes of ED.

Most erectile dysfunction medications doctors prescribe are type 5 (PDE5) inhibitors and work to increase blood flow to the penis.

It should be kept in mind that PDE5 inhibitors only work if you're sexually aroused.


Sildenafil (Viagra) is one of the most commonly used ED medications on the market. It's a proven erectile dysfunction drug that works with sexual stimulation to help achieve and maintain an erection.

It takes Viagra 30 minutes to an hour to kick in, and the erection can last up to four hours.

Common side effects of Viagra include headaches, upset stomach, and skin flushing.


Tadalafil (Cialis) is another standard medication doctors prescribe to treat erectile dysfunction.

Men who prefer a little spontaneity can take Cialis daily, and be more able to achieve an erection on the spot.

Cialis can also be taken in a larger dose, which takes about 30 minutes to an hour to work. The effects can last up to 36 hours.

Some common side effects of Cialis include indigestion, back pain, and headaches.

Alternative medication

As mentioned above, PDE5 inhibitors come with possible side effects such as headaches, dizziness, muscle aches, and nausea. For some, the side effects are too much.

Some over-the-counter supplements contain ingredients that address both stress and erectile dysfunction.

  • Black maca may help reduce oxidative stress and improve overall sexual performance.
  • Kava has shown potential in treating stress and anxiety, which can help boost libido.
  • L-arginine has been shown to help stimulate blood vessels to open wider. You can find L-arginine in supplements such as VitaFLUx for men.

Always consult a physician before starting any supplement and follow the dosage recommendations on the label.


If you are wondering can stress cause impotence, the answer is it absolutely can. Men of all ages, backgrounds, and lifestyles struggle with stress-related erectile dysfunction. 

And stress doesn't just affect our mental health; it can cause high blood pressure and heart disease and can lead to excessive alcohol and drug use, all of which can lead to ED.

Short-term erectile dysfunction due to stress is treatable in almost all cases. It may require therapy, changing your diet, increasing physical activity, and possibly medication.

Most importantly, you can help manage your stress levels by talking to your partner, taking control of your finances, practicing self-care, and seeking professional help if needed.

The Promescent Team

The Promescent Team

Our team has over a decade of experience in the sexual wellness field and are experts in sexual dysfunctions, like premature ejaculation. We help couples and individuals better understand treatment options available for different types of sexual needs and educate the public on all things related to intimacy. All of our authored content is medically reviewed for accuracy and reliability.


Absorption Pharmaceuticals LLC (Promescent) has strict informational citing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic or research institutions, medical associations, and medical experts. We attempt to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references and only citing trustworthy sources. Each article is reviewed, written, and updated by Medical Professionals or authoritative Experts in a specific, related field of practice. You can find out more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy.

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The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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