Can STIs Cause Erectile Dysfunction?

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

Some diseases may also cause ED. Many people ask whether sexually transmitted infections or STIs, sometimes called STDs, are one of those conditions that could bring about ED.

Yes, some STIs, including untreated HIV, gonorrhea, chlamydia, and viral hepatitis can cause infections in the prostate gland. These infections, in turn, may trigger ED.

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

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What Is Erectile Dysfunction and Why Can STIs Cause It?

ED is the failure to achieve and/or sustain an erection. Oftentimes, the cause of ED can be a combination of both psychological and physical factors. That said, if an STI is the underlying cause of ED, it is strictly an anatomical issue at play.

This is because certain STIs can trigger infections in the prostate gland, a supportive organ of the male reproductive system. When the prostate is infected, it can lead to complications with proper blood flow to the genitals. Healthy blood circulation is necessary for achieving and maintaining an erection.

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

Some MAGIs include:

  • Prostatitis: Prostatitis is a condition marked by an inflammation of the prostate. Having HIV/AIDS, a bladder or urethra infection, older age, and more puts you at a higher risk of prostatitis. Complications from prostatitis include inflammation of other reproductive organs, sexual dysfunction, semen 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 carries sperm. Bacterial infections are the most common cause of epididymitis, particularly STIs such as chlamydia and gonorrhea.
  • Orchitis: Orchitis is inflammation of the testicle. Most cases are a result of the mumps virus. Orchitis may also be caused by untreated epididymitis.

STIs and the Prostate

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

  • HIV: Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is the virus that causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). HIV is transmitted via blood, semen, and vaginal fluids. HIV depletes the body's immune system, meaning those who have HIV are more susceptible to infection. This includes prostatitis.
  • Gonorrhea: Gonorrhea is an STI caused by Neisseria gonorrhoeae bacteria. It is treated with antibiotics. Left untreated, gonorrhea can damage and cause a blockage in the epididymis, known as gonorrheal epididymitis. This bacterial infection is linked to ED.
  • Viral hepatitis: Viral hepatitis, also known as hepatitis C, is linked to prostate cancer. Nearly all of those who undergo prostate cancer treatment experience ED afterward.
  • Chlamydia: Chlamydia is the most commonly reported bacteria-triggered STI in the United States. It is most prevalent among younger populations. This STI can cause an infection in the prostate, triggering swelling, which restricts blood flow to the penis.

Chlamydia and ED

One of many complications linked to chlamydia is ED. This is because chlamydia often infects the prostate and triggers prostatitis. It is incredibly common for those with prostatitis to experience ED. In addition, any chronic inflammation or infection can lower testosterone (the male) hormone, which is normally a foundation for erectile function.

Symptoms

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

  • Discharge from penis
  • A burning sensation while urinating
  • Pain or swelling in one or both of the testicles (not common)
  • Rectal pain, discharge, and bleeding

Chlamydia often presents with no 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 practicing safer sex are vital.

A Word From Verywell

Erectile dysfunction is a common sexual issue. Understandably, those experiencing ED want to identify the underlying mechanism at play so they can remedy the situation. ED can cause depression, anxiety, an unfulfilling sex life, relationship problems, and being unable to get your partner pregnant.

Sometimes, an STI, such as chlamydia, may be the root cause of ED. This is because STIs can cause MAGIs, infections of the male reproductive tract.

Thankfully, many STIs are treatable. Regular STI testing and practicing safer sex are imperative to reducing your risk of contracting and spreading STIs.

If you are experiencing ED and suspect an STI may be the cause, make an appointment with your healthcare provider as soon as possible. STIs are nothing to be ashamed of, but they need to be diagnosed to be treated properly.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Do pumps increase size?

    No, pumps do not increase penis size. There are no medications or exercises that have been proven to lengthen one’s penis, either. Penis size is mainly determined by genetic makeup and cannot be changed.

  • Do pumps cure ED?

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

  • Should I use a constriction ring?

    Constriction rings, or "cock rings," are elastic rings designed to help someone maintain an erection. These should never be worn for more than 30 minutes, however. This is because excessive use may cause nerve injury.

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8 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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