Erectile dysfunction (ED), also known as impotence, is an incredibly common sexual problem. In the United States, it affects approximately 30 million people with a penis. Risk factors for developing erectile dysfunction include advanced age, certain medications, psychological or emotional problems, and smoking.

Certain diseases can also cause erectile dysfunction. Many people wonder if sexually transmitted infections or STIs, sometimes called STDs, are among those conditions that could cause erectile dysfunction.

Yes, some STIs, including untreated HIV, gonorrhea, chlamydia, and viral hepatitis can cause prostate infections. These infections, in turn, can trigger erectile dysfunction.

Read below to learn more about the link between ED and STIs.

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What is erectile dysfunction and why can STIs cause it?

Erectile dysfunction is the inability to get and/or keep an erection. Often the cause of erectile dysfunction can be a combination of psychological and physical factors. That said, if an STI is the underlying cause of erectile dysfunction, it’s strictly an anatomical issue at play.

Indeed, some STIs can trigger infections of the prostate, a supporting organ of the male reproductive system. When the prostate gets infected, it can lead to complications with poor blood flow to the genitals. Healthy blood circulation is necessary to achieve and maintain an erection.

Untreated STIs can cause male accessory gland infections (MAGI). MAGI are infections that involve inflammation of the male reproductive system, including the prostate.

Some MAGIs include:

  • Prostatitis: Prostatitis is a condition characterized by inflammation of the prostate. Have HIV/AIDS, bladder or urethra infection, advanced age, etc. puts you at a higher risk of prostatitis. Complications of prostatitis include inflammation of other reproductive organs, sexual dysfunction, sperm abnormalities, and infertility.
  • Urethritis: Urethritis is inflammation of the urethra, the tube that expels urine from the body.
  • Epididymitis: Epididymitis is inflammation of the epididymis, the coiled tube at the back of the testicle. The epididymis stores and transports sperm. Bacterial infections are the most common cause of epididymitis, especially STIs such as chlamydia and gonorrhea.
  • Orchitis: Orchitis is an inflammation of the testicle. Most cases are due to the mumps virus. Orchitis can also be caused by untreated epididymitis.

STIs and the prostate

Some STIs can cause a prostate infection. These STIs include:

  • HIV: The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is the virus responsible for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). HIV is transmitted through blood, semen and vaginal secretions. HIV depletes the body’s immune system, which means those with HIV are more likely to become infected. This includes prostatitis.
  • Gonorrhea: Gonorrhea is an STI caused by Neisseria gonorrhoeae bacteria. He is being treated with antibiotics. Left untreated, gonorrhea can damage and cause blockage of the epididymis, known as gonorrheal epididymitis. This bacterial infection is linked to erectile dysfunction.
  • Viral hepatitis: Viral hepatitis, also known as hepatitis C, is linked to prostate cancer. Almost everyone who undergoes treatment for prostate cancer then experiences erectile dysfunction.
  • Chlamydia: Chlamydia is the most commonly reported STI triggered by bacteria in the United States. It is most prevalent among younger populations. This STI can cause an infection in the prostate, causing swelling that restricts blood flow to the penis.

Chlamydia and ED

One of the many chlamydia-related complications is erectile dysfunction. Indeed, chlamydia often infects the prostate and triggers prostatitis. It is extremely common for people with prostatitis to suffer from erectile dysfunction. Additionally, any inflammation or chronic infection can lower testosterone (the male hormone), which is normally the basis of erectile function.

Symptoms

There are various symptoms of chlamydia. In men, these include:

  • Penis discharge
  • A burning sensation when urinating
  • Pain or swelling in one or both testicles (uncommon)
  • Rectal pain, discharge and bleeding

Chlamydia often presents without symptoms. That said, it can still damage the reproductive system.

Treatment and prevention

Antibiotics treat chlamydia and it is curable. You should always complete your full course of antibiotics.

In order to prevent chlamydia, regular STI testing and safer sex practices are essential.

A word from Verywell

Erectile dysfunction is a common sexual problem. Naturally, those who suffer from erectile dysfunction want to identify the underlying mechanism at play so that they can remedy the situation. Erectile dysfunction can cause depression, anxiety, an unsatisfying sex life, relationship problems, and the inability to get your partner pregnant.

Sometimes an STI, like chlamydia, can be the root cause of erectile dysfunction. Indeed, STIs can cause MAGI, infections of the male reproductive system.

Fortunately, many STIs are treatable. Regular STI screening and practicing safe sex are imperative to reduce your risk of contracting and spreading STIs.

If you have erectile dysfunction and suspect an STI may be the cause, make an appointment with your healthcare provider as soon as possible. There’s no shame in having STIs, but they need to be diagnosed to be treated properly.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Do push-ups increase height?

    No, pumps do not increase penis size. There are also no drugs or exercises proven to lengthen the penis. Penis size is mainly determined by genetic makeup and cannot be changed.

  • Do pumps cure erectile dysfunction?

    Penis pumps can help treat erectile dysfunction. A vacuum erection device (VED) may be prescribed by your urologist. These devices are approved by the American Urological Association for the treatment of erectile dysfunction.

  • Should I use a constriction ring?

    Constriction rings, or “cock rings”, are elastic rings designed to help someone maintain an erection. However, these should never be worn for more than 30 minutes. Indeed, excessive use can cause nerve damage.