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By: RSC Editorial Team

March 3, 2023

What STD Causes Erectile Dysfunction?

Did you know that approximately 52% of men experience erectile dysfunction? Also referred to as ED, erectile dysfunction can affect men of all ages.

The occasional erection problem usually isn’t cause for concern, and it could be due to a variety of factors, including stress, alcohol, depression, prostate inflammation, and even side effects from medication. On the other hand, persistent erectile issues could potentially be linked to an STD (sexually transmitted disease) that causes inflammatory disease in the prostate gland.

If you’ve been wondering what STD causes erectile dysfunction, you’re about to find out the answer to this burning question.  

Understanding Erectile Dysfunction

While many people tend to think of erectile dysfunction as the inability to achieve and maintain an erection that’s firm enough to have sex, there are varying levels of ED. For example, a man might be able to achieve an erection easily but have difficulty maintaining it. Alternatively, someone may experience a rigid erection but be unable to achieve an erection consistently.

According to the Mayo Clinic, sexual arousal is “complicated,” and it requires several parts of the body to work in harmony, including:

  • Brain
  • Hormones
  • Nerves
  • Muscles
  • Blood vessels

Because so many systems in the body must work in harmony to achieve and maintain an erection, a number of medical conditions and psychological factors can lead to hiccups in erectile function:

  • Heart disease
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Stress
  • Relationship problems

Types of Erectile Dysfunction

Because erectile dysfunction can be triggered by a variety of factors, there are several types of ED, depending on the underlying causes. The most common types of erectile dysfunction include the following:

  • Organic ED: This form of erectile dysfunction is typically age-related and caused by abnormalities and hardening in the arteries and veins in the penis.
  • Venous leak ED: Wasting away of tissue resulting from vascular disease can result in impotence.
  • Diabetes-induced ED: Diabetes can wreak havoc on bodily systems, including sexual function.
  • Hormone-induced ED: Hormones influence several bodily systems, including sex organs. Imbalances of hormones such as prolactin, estrogen and testosterone levels, and low thyroid can reduce sexual function.
  • Neurological ED: Nerve damage can also cause erectile dysfunction. Common neurological triggers include alcoholism, heavy metal poisoning, and injuries.
  • Psychological ED: The brain also plays an important role in sexual activity. Depression, anxiety, and stress can all exacerbate symptoms of erectile dysfunction.


The most common symptom of erectile dysfunction is routine difficulty in getting and maintaining an erection. Note that an occasional challenge in the bedroom isn’t necessarily a sign of impotence. Rather, it’s when the condition persists that ED might be an issue.

Erectile Function and STDs

Medical and psychological conditions aren’t the only potential causes of erectile dysfunction. It turns out that some STDs (also referred to as STIs or sexually transmitted infections) can also lead to problems in the bedroom.  

The connection between an STD and erectile function is a result of the infection causing issues with the prostate. The infection causes the prostate to swell, and an enlarged prostate constricts the flow of blood to the penis. With decreased blood flow comes the penis’s ability to fully engorge, resulting in a penis that doesn’t meet its full rigidity potential.

While pain during ejaculation and urination, discharge from the penis, and some swelling in the testicular area tend to be the most serious side effects of STDs like chlamydia in men, the complications can be much more severe for women.

For example, if left untreated, chlamydia can make it difficult for women to become pregnant. Further, ectopic pregnancy also becomes a high risk. An ectopic pregnancy occurs when the fetus develops outside of the uterus, and it has the potential to be fatal.

For both men and women, chlamydia is an STD that causes frequent urination, which can be uncomfortable and inconvenient. Further, the pain that men may experience during sex could lead to a vicious circle of ED.

When sex is painful, you’re not as likely to enjoy it as much, and that lack of arousal could lead to a physical manifestation of a flaccid penis. The more painful sex is, the less aroused you’re likely to be, and then the cycle repeats until no one is happy.

Another link between STDs and erectile dysfunction is the sense of anxiety that comes from being able to perform or feeling concerned about passing the infection onto a partner through sexual contact. Of course, if you know you have an STD, transparency should be a given, and it’s also recommended to practice safe sex or abstain from intercourse until you receive a clean bill of sexual health.

Fortunately, once you determine through a rapid STD test that an STD like chlamydia is the bandit stealing your erections, a course of antibiotics can resolve the issue.

On a side note, there’s also been a connection drawn between ED and STD infection rates. Studies are not fully conclusive, but it’s been suggested that older adults with ED practice safe sex less often because there is less worry about pregnancy, and condom usage declines with age.

STDs that Cause Erectile Dysfunction

There are several STDs that can contribute to or cause erectile dysfunction:

  • Chlamydia
  • Gonorrhea
  • Herpes simplex virus (HSV)
  • HIV
  • Hepatitis C and other forms of viral hepatitis

While STDs like chlamydia and gonorrhea directly affect the prostate, other STDs like HIV and viral hepatitis leave the immune system vulnerable. As a result, the body becomes less able to fight off infections, which could ultimately lead to infections in and around the penis.

Other Causes of Erectile Dysfunction

Sexual function is a complicated issue, and we’ve touched on all of the potential triggers that can lead to suboptimal performance. While STDs can definitely contribute to subpar and non-existent erections, they are one of several potential causes.

The seven most common causes of ED (other than an STD) are as follows:

1.  Depression: Feeling blue can deplete your sex drive, and antidepressants can come with side effects that exacerbate the problem.

2.  Drugs and alcohol: The effects of drugs and alcohol are usually temporary, but long-term abuse can lead to permanent issues.

3.  Medications: If you take blood pressure medications or other prescriptions, there could be interference with your sexual health.

4.  Obesity: Carrying extra weight can reduce testosterone levels and increase blood pressure. When blood pressure is elevated, it can reduce the amount of blood that flows to the penis.

5.  Cardiovascular disease: Plaque buildup in the arteries can impair how your blood vessels function, contributing to ED.

6.  Smoking: Men who smoke are twice as likely to have ED. Like the other causes of erectile dysfunction, smoking adversely affects circulation.

7.  Age: While older men tend to have a higher risk of erectile dysfunction, age is just one part of the equation. However, when combined with other lifestyle factors (like obesity, medication, and stress), age can play a role in ED.

Treatment of STDs and Erectile Dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction tends to be curable with changes in lifestyle, and it can be treatable with medication. When the root cause of erectile dysfunction is an STD, curing the STD can go a long way to restoring sexual function.

Is Erectile Dysfunction Curable?

The short answer is yes. But first, you have to pinpoint the cause of your erectile dysfunction and then address the issue separately. For example, with chlamydia and erectile dysfunction, a round of antibiotics can knock out the bacterial infection, which will reduce inflammation in the prostate and penile area to allow your organ to return to its previous award-winning performance.

For other more permanent or stubborn causes, some men turn to surgical options like penile implants. There are inflatable and malleable varieties. The advantage of an inflatable penile implant is that you can also use the procedure to make your penis wider and longer. A malleable penile implant can also increase size, and you can manipulate the rods at will to create an erection.

Treating Both STDs and Erectile Dysfunction

The first step in treating erectile dysfunction caused by an STD is to get a 10 panel STD test to find out if you have any of the STDs that are leading to the issue. If you do have an STD that has resulted in erectile dysfunction, curing the STD should also resolve the problem.

Get to the Root Cause of Erectile Dysfunction

Want to know ASAP if an STD is causing performance issues in the bedroom? We offer same-day STD testing at all of our locations so you can be fully informed of your sexual health status without having to wait days for results.

With Rapid STD Testing, you can get confidential testing from our labs in all 50 states, or order a test online or by phone.


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By: RSC Editorial Team
March 3, 2023

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