Sudden Erectile Dysfunction: What's Causing It & How To Treat It

When you're used to getting strong erections, having sudden erectile dysfunction can come as shock. Find out the cause of sudden ED and how you can treat it.

The Promescent Team
Hands on, practical experience – this is our expertise
by The Promescent Team Last updated 12/19/2023

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Sudden erectile dysfunction can cause confusion and alarm for any man. All sorts of factors can lead to sudden ED, including age, medications, health problems, and physiological issues.

While erectile dysfunction is most common in men over 40, one study found that sudden erection dysfunction affects 8% of men between 20 and 29 years and 11% among those aged 30 to 39.

Quick FAQs

Issues with medication and psychological issues are the most common causes of sudden ED.

Signs of sudden ED include not being able to achieve an erection with your partner and still being able to achieve an erection through masturbation.

Different ways to treat sudden ED include resolving psychological issues through therapy or adjusting your medication. Make sure to consult with a doctor before deciding to make medication changes.

Erectile dysfunction (ED) isn't always a long-term issue or diagnosis. ED is when a man can't get or maintain an erection, which can happen once or come on suddenly.

Medications and psychological issues such as partner-related stresses depression, and anxiety are the most common causes of sudden erectile dysfunction.

Let your doctor know if you've experienced the following symptoms.

  • You achieve an erection sometimes, but not every time.
  • You get an erection but cannot maintain it through sex.
  • You achieve an erection but lack the firmness needed for satisfactory sex.
  • Talk to your physician immediately if you are unable to achieve an erection at any time.

What Causes Sudden Erectile Dysfunction?

Usually, ED develops over time, whether it's related to age or health issues. Sudden ED is when it happens out of nowhere and leaves men baffled.

Issues with medication or physiological reasons are the most common causes of sudden ED, but that's not always the case.

1. Vascular Issues

Men have to have healthy blood vessels to get or sustain an erection. Vascular issues such as clogged arteries (atherosclerosis) can keep blood vessels from functioning as intended, causing poor blood flow.

Pro Tip: VitaFLUX Nitric Oxide Booster helps to relax blood vessels and allow more blood flow through increased nitric oxide production.

Types of vascular issues that can damage blood vessels and potentially lead to ED include:

  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Peripheral artery disease

2. Medications

One of the primary causes of sudden erectile dysfunction in young men is medication or treatment. The most common medication-related cause of ED is thiazides, which treats high blood pressure, and alpha-blockers and beta-blockers.

Other medications that can pose a risk of developing erection dysfunction include:

  • antidepressants and antianxiety medicines (SSRIs, Valium, buspirone)
  • antihistamines (Benadryl, Dramamine)
  • heartburn medication (Zantac, promethazine)
  • high blood pressure pills and diuretics (Clonidine, furosemide)
  • Parkinson's disease medication (benztropine, levodopa)
  • chemotherapy and hormonal treatments (antiandrogens, LHRH agonists)
  • over-the-counter pain relievers (NSAIDs, ibuprofen)
  • recreational drugs ( including alcohol, marijuana, and cigarettes)
  • lipid-lowering agents
  • opiates and other painkillers

Let your healthcare provider know if you suspect that a medication is impacting bedroom performance. Together, you can come up with a new plan to address erectile dysfunction.

Don't stop taking your medication unless you speak to your doctor first.

3. Psychological Problems

The human brain plays a huge role in the arousal process, which starts with the desire and ends with an orgasm.

The sudden inability to get or maintain an erection is often caused by psychological issues such as: 

  • Anxiety
  • Stress 
  • Relationship problems.

Psychological erectile dysfunction is usually curable, but it will likely take discovering and addressing the mental or emotional root of the problem.

4. Lifestyle Choices

Unhealthy habits can be major contributors to sudden erectile dysfunction. A few unhealthy ones to avoid are:

  • Smoking cigarettes
  • Excessive drinking
  • Heavy drug use

You can decrease the odds of recurring ED by just reducing tobacco and alcohol use. Other simple lifestyle changes like what you eat and how much you sleep can improve symptoms of erectile dysfunction.

Diets that include folic acid, vitamin D, vitamin B3, vitamin C, and L-arginine can lessen the severity of ED and, in some cases, treat it entirely.

Adding 30 minutes of exercise a day addresses vascular erectile dysfunction for some men. Moderate to vigorous aerobic exercise improves cardiovascular health and decreases the odds of sexual dysfunction.

5. Obesity

Studies show that obesity is an independent risk factor for erectile dysfunction in some men. Being overweight can cause vascular and hormonal issues that are directly linked to an increased risk of ED.

Dropping a few pounds can reduce the risk of sudden ED and improve your overall health.

Signs of Sudden-Onset Erectile Dysfunction

Alarm, embarrassment, and confusion are all normal reactions to sudden erectile dysfunction. But rest assured that most sudden onset ED is treatable

Signs of sudden onset erectile dysfunction include:

  • inability to ever achieve an erection
  • inability to maintain an erection long enough to participate in sex
  • achieving an erection, but not every time you feel the desire
  • erection is achieved but isn't firm enough for enjoyable sex

Self Diagnose: Sudden ED vs. Early Symptoms of Longer-Term ED

Sudden onset erectile dysfunction is sometimes a short-term issue, or it can be a red flag that there is an underlying medical or psychological reason for the ED.

Sudden erectile dysfunction is normally brief and is sometimes a sexual health issue you can self-diagnose and treat on your own. The following questions might help you determine whether you’re experiencing sudden ED or early signs of “normal” ED.

Have you noticed a gradual decrease in erection strength over the last six months?

If the answer to this question is yes, you’re probably experiencing normal ED. With Sudden ED, your erection strength remains consistent except for the situations in which you experience erectile dysfunction.

Does this problem persist only with a certain partner?

Answering yes to this question could indicate you have sudden ED. In this case, it’s important to examine if there are any psychological issues at play, such as any current problems you’re having in your relationship.

Do you have strong, full erections during masturbation?

Full erections while masturbating is another sign of sudden ED. This is another instance where you would consider any psychological issues that could be making it difficult to get erect with a partner.

Have you taken your age and health into consideration?

Normal ED tends to become more likely in men as they age. A study found 52% of men between the ages of 40 to 70 had some degree of erectile dysfunction.

Additionally, as mentioned earlier, unhealthy habits and poor health can also be major contributors to ED. As an example, the prevalence of ED is 3.5 times higher in men with diabetes than in those who don’t have the condition.

Tips for Overcoming Sudden Erectile Dysfunction

ED struggles are different for every man. You'll want to have a chat with your doctor to rule out any underlying health problems.

Sometimes, it will take a combination of treatment options to find the right solution for sudden erectile dysfunction. But a few positive health choices can help you get started on the right path.

Tip 1 – Shed some pounds

Men with a BMI of 25 kg/m2 or greater or more are far more likely to experience ED than those with a healthy BMI.

Part of a weight-loss journey is finding the right dietary path toward success. But, there are specific foods you can eat to not only drop some weight but also prevent and reduce the effects of erectile dysfunction.

Tip 2 – Move more

It's proven that reducing calorie intake and increasing physical activity help men lose the weight necessary to address erectile dysfunction.

The same study shows that physical activity sometimes matters more than diet as a treatment for sudden ED.

30 to 40 minutes of aerobic exercise benefits men with erectile dysfunction. Some exercises you can try include:

  • cycling
  • boxing
  • running
  • rowing

Not only does the research say physical activity helps treat ED, but it can also help to prevent it altogether.

Tip 3 – Have a conversation with your healthcare provider about medication

If you suspect that a medication is causing sudden ED, talk to your doctor about discussing alternatives or a new plan of action.

Some doctors will prescribe a phosphodiesterase-5 inhibitor (PDE5-I), like Viagra or Cialis, to treat ED.

If the risks and side effects aren't worth it for short-term or sudden erectile dysfunction, supplements like VitaFlux contain L-Arginine, L-Citrulline, and L-Carnitine, which is proven to reduce the impact of ED.

Do not start or stop taking medication or supplements before getting your doctor’s recommendation.

Tip 4 – Therapy

Around 40% of erectile dysfunction cases are due to psychological and emotional issues and are entirely treatable.

Visiting a licensed counselor or therapist can help you identify the root causes of the mental and emotional disruptions leading to sudden ED.

Tip 5 – Stop bad habits

Excessive alcohol consumption can be the only cause of a man's erectile dysfunction.

You may see differences in erection strength, frequency, and duration by just cutting down on how much you drink.

Stopping smoking cigarettes and avoiding recreational drugs go a long way to addressing poor sexual health, too.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Common is Sudden Erectile Dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction is the most common sexual disorder in men and happens to about 1 in 10.

Does Sudden ED Go Away On Its Own?

Sudden erectile dysfunction is normally short-term and treatable with lifestyle changes.

Can Sudden ED Happen At Any Age?

One study found that 8% of men from 20 to 29 and 11% of those between 30 and 39 have experienced erectile dysfunction.

Sudden Erectile Dysfunction in Your 20s

Psychological and emotional issues such as stress, anxiety, and sexual performance worries are the most common causes of ED in men in their 20s.

In some cases, it can be a preexisting cardiovascular health issue, so it's important to discuss erectile dysfunction with your physician.

Sudden Erectile Dysfunction in Your 30s

While age starts to matter, men in their 30s often experience ED due to obesity, alcohol use, cigarette smoking, and medication side effects.

Neurological disease and Peyronie's disease are also common health issues leading to erectile dysfunction.

Sudden Erectile Dysfunction in Your 40s

It becomes more vital to talk to your doctor about instances of sudden onset ED as you age.

Erectile dysfunction in men in their 40s can be a sign of serious heart-related issues, diabetes, and high blood pressure.

But don't panic. Sudden ED in your 40s can be just as likely due to psychological issues or an unhealthy lifestyle.

What Happens if I'm Still Unable to Get Hard in a Few Weeks?

You will need to seek out a medical professional if you cannot get or maintain an erection for more than a couple of weeks.

Reoccurring erectile dysfunction is a huge red flag for heart problems, including clogged arteries.

When Should I Talk to a Doctor About Sudden ED?

Talking about erectile dysfunction can be difficult for some men, even with their personal doctor.

But sudden erectile dysfunction can be a sign of a bigger health problem and may harm your mental health.

If sudden ED becomes a regular thing, contact your doctor for a complete medical workup and to discuss medication options.

Key Takeaways

Regardless of age, you may experience a sudden onset of erectile dysfunction. For men in their 20s and 30s and even 40s, ED can be due to psychological causes or medication side effects - both entirely treatable.

The inability to get and maintain an erection, losing erection strength, and only sometimes getting hard are potential signs of sudden onset of ED.

Lifestyle changes such as getting more exercise, eating better, and backing off of drinking and smoking often address erectile dysfunction without the assistance of a doctor.

Sudden ED is generally due to psychological matters that may require you to delve into the root cause with a therapist.

However, if sudden ED becomes frequent or problematic, you want to talk to your doctor about possible causes, including underlying health problems and medication interactions.

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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