Causes of Erectile Dysfunction in Teenagers

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Erectile dysfunction, common in the elderly, occasionally strikes a teenage male. Defined as an inability to maintain an erect penis, erectile dysfunction can stem from several causes. Treating the disorder during the teen years is important to future sexual health, according to a "Reuters Health" article entitled, "Treating ED in Teens Key to Future Well-Being." Discerning the cause of impotence is often the deciding factor in choosing between available treatment modalities.

Performance Anxiety

A teenager engaging in one of his first sexual experiences is apt to develop performance anxiety, often due to believing his partner has high expectations of his sexual performance. If he has one bad experience, this anxiety may be heightened in future sexual attempts. Poor self-esteem, leading to a negative internal dialogue, can also be a source of performance anxiety. Massachusetts General Hospital for Children explains that performance anxiety causes the brain to release chemicals that constrict the muscles inside the blood vessels that normally enlarge the penis, making an erection impossible.


Guilt may plague a teenager as he attempts to masturbate or engage in sex with a partner. The guilt may be related to the identity of his partner, such as his cousin or his friend's girlfriend. More often, however, the guilt is a manifestation of being taught that masturbation or sex is "dirty" or "wrong" by his family or religious authority figures.

Blood Vessel Blockage

Some teen erectile dysfunction is due to blood vessel blockage. This occurs in the vicinity of the blood vessels that supply blood to the penis when sexual arousal is experienced. Ultrasound testing can determine if such a blockage exists.

Low Testosterone Level

The sex hormone testosterone plays an integral part in the achievement of an erection. Some adolescent males have a low testosterone level, which can cause occasional or total impotence. Occasionally, this low testosterone in a male is due to the use of anabolic steroids--drugs used in an attempt to achieve additional muscular mass or strength. A blood test can determine if testosterone levels are low.

Excessive Bicycling

Excessive bicycling can injure the genital region, leading to erectile dysfunction, states the Massachusetts General Hospital for Children. The number of hours that must be spent cycling before injury occurs may vary according to seat type and bicycle type.


A type of antidepressant drug known as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) can cause impotence. In particular, the SSRI, paroxetine (Paxil) has been associated with sexual side-effects. Occasionally, medication besides antidepressants may also be at fault.

Alcohol Misuse

Heavy alcohol use can lead to erectile dysfunction. The Mayo Clinic explains that the abuse of other drugs causes some cases of impotence as well.