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Modern life is stressful. Do you work long hours? Worry about money? When you’re stressed it’s hard to leave your worries at the bedroom door.

EPs are strongly linked to stress and anxiety. As many as 4 in 10 men with EPs identify stress as the reason for their problems.


Depression and anxiety are the main psychological risk factors for erection problems in young men. 

Depression can often lead to a reduced libido. 

Around 25% of men with depression might also suffer EPs.

Low self-esteem

If you suffer from low self-esteem you might have a negative view of yourself and your abilities, and might feel you aren’t capable of satisfying your partner. Low self-esteem can stem from EPs and can also cause more serious EPs.

Performance anxiety

Nervousness and anxiety about sex can lead to erection problems. This can trigger a vicious cycle of failure, the avoidance of sex, a negative impact on self-esteem, depression and increasing anxiety.

Relationship problems

Instability within your relationship can be a cause of erection problems.

The anxiety generated by EPs can also result in uneasiness, increased remoteness and arguments within a relationship. Nearly a third of men have reported EPs putting a strain on their relationship.

In the case of single men, in one survey 25% of men reported a loss of confidence when dating due to EPs.

Find out how to discuss erection problems on the Talking To Your Partner About EPs page.

Work it out

People who experience stress sometimes find exercise helps.

Reconnect with yourself

Mindfulness – paying more attention to your thoughts and feelings, and the world around you, is recommended as a method for preventing depression in those who have experienced it several times before.

Talk about it

Counselling with a trained therapist can help you with many aspects of mental wellness, from stress and anxiety to low self-esteem and relationship problems.


Smoking cigarettes has a harmful effect on the function of your blood vessels, including those in the penis.

Eating badly and drinking too much

Eating too much fatty, salty and/or sugary food, and not enough fruit and vegetables, can result in weight gain. In fact, a poor diet is a major cause of obesity, which can increase the risk of developing atherosclerosis – or narrowing of the blood vessels. This can impair blood flow to the penis and the ability to get and keep an erection.

Being overweight or obese increases your risk of other health problems, including heart disease and diabetes. These risk factors are linked to erection problems.

Find out more in the Erection Problems and Your Body section

Heavy drinking substantially increases the risk of developing EPs, as well as premature ejaculation and reduced libido.


Not exercising increases the risk of obesity, which increases your likelihood of developing high blood pressure and heart disease.

Inactivity also puts you at risk of developing type 2 diabetes, a condition that can cause erection problems. Looking at it the other way, erection problems can be a signal of undiagnosed diabetes. In the average man aged 40–59 without EPs, there is a 2% chance of having undiagnosed diabetes. This increases to 10% in men with EPs.

Recreational drug use

Various recreational drugs have links to EPs. Cocaine causes something called ‘vasoconstriction’, which reduces blood flow to the penis. Others, including MDMA and amphetamines, interfere with certain signals involved in causing erections.

Recreational drugs shouldn’t be taken with medicine for EPs.

Lose weight by eating healthily

Changing what you eat could help reduce your weight and lower your cholesterol and blood pressure. This will improve the health of your heart. All of these elements – weight, blood pressure and heart health – can be involved with EPs. 

Exercise regularly

Physical activity helps keep your blood vessels and heart healthy.

It can also relax you and improve wellbeing, which will lower your stress level

Each week, try and aim for 20 minutes a day of moderately intense activity – brisk walking or cycling to work – or 10 minutes a day of vigorous activity, like running.

Quit smoking

The NHS recommends stopping smoking as one of the most important lifestyle changes that might help with erection problems.

Avoid recreational drug use

It’s a good idea to stop taking any substances that interfere with your body’s ability to get and maintain an erection.

†Estimated from reported Viagra Connect use since launch (Kantar 2019, Viagra Connect TNS Omnibus survey, 1,499 men 35 yr+) & UK male population 35+ yrs.

VIAC-2022-0154 - June 2022