Is Erectile Dysfunction Hereditary?

In the past, most erectile dysfunction (ED) cases were attributed to psychological factors, such as generalized stress and anxiety performance. However, based on recent discoveries, doctors now think most of the time, ED can be traced to a physical condition. In 2018, researchers found evidence of a genetic factor that may increase the risk of erectile dysfunction. The finding brought more credence to the fact that an ED case could be multiple factors.

What is Erectile Dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction is the inability to get or maintain an erection sufficient enough for sexual intercourse. It is a common condition globally, especially among men ages 40 and above. Its symptoms include being able to achieve an erection sometimes, but not every time or having an erection but not sustained long enough for sexual intercourse. In some men, it is a case of a complete inability to get an erection. Physical conditions such as blood and heart disease, chronic kidney disease, and diabetes can lead to ED. Its underlying cause can also be a psychological issue that includes depression, stress and anxiety, relationship problems, or lifestyle choices.

Connection Between Your ED and Your Genes

ED is not in itself a genetic condition, but it can be linked with certain illnesses that run in the family line. There has been a long-standing belief that ED risk is heritable, as revealed in a twin study of some middle-aged men. However, until 2018, the responsible genetic variants were not explicitly identified. Before viewing what research says, let us explore the possible heritable physical conditions that may increase the risk of ED.


Scientific findings suggest that erectile dysfunction rate among diabetic men ranges from 35% to 75% compared to 26% in the general population. This makes ED one of the major effects of diabetes. But is diabetes hereditary?

While some people are born with a higher risk of developing diabetes than others, the condition doesn’t appear heritable in a simple pattern. According to the American Diabetes Association, if a man has type 1 diabetes, the odds of passing it to your child are 1 in 17. If it is in a woman, and the child was born before the mother turned 25 years of age, the odds are 1 in 25. For a child born after the mother turned 25, the child’s risk is 1 in 100.

Type 2 diabetes, on the other hand, has a stronger link to family lineage and history than type 1. However, both types also depend on environmental factors and lifestyle. For instance, eating habits that increase the risk of developing certain conditions can be a common practice among people. Obesity, for instance, runs in families and is linked to eating habits. It is difficult to figure out whether the underlying cause of one’s diabetes is genetic or lifestyle, even if one or both parents are diabetic.

Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is another condition that can lead to erectile dysfunction. A study reported a prevalence of 37.5% among men with prostate cancer. In most cases, men develop ED after undergoing prostate cancer surgeries, particularly the types that sever off some of the nerves or arteries for erections. According to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, 5 to 10% of all diagnosed prostate cancer cases are hereditary, meaning there is an increased risk that the condition runs in the family. While prostate cancer can significantly increase your risk of ED, that will not automatically translate to it being inherited.


Obesity can be traced to both genetic or environmental factors. A study shows that heritability of obesity varied from 6-85% among various populations. Around 79% of men with erectile dysfunctions report a body mass index (BMI) of 25kg/m2. Any BMI of this size and above is a strong indicator of ED. Erectile disorder occurrence risk is 1 in 5 cases of 25kg/m2 BMI, and three times higher in those with 30kg/m2 BMI. Obesity also has several co-occurring issues that increase the development and severity of ED. For example, men with obesity generally have high blood pressure. Cardiovascular diseases, such as dyslipidemia and diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension are also common occurrences among them. Men with ED are 38% more likely to develop high blood pressure than those without ED.

Other Conditions

Other conditions like nerve damage, spinal injuries, diseases concerning blood vessels, and pelvic surgery have varying degrees of ED prevalence. Lifestyle choices such as smoking, taking recreational drugs, and consuming alcohol can also contribute significantly to the presence of ED. Cigarettes, for instance, can contain around 41,000 chemicals that may lead to ED. These chemicals can cause damages to the blood vessels and narrow the arteries that supply blood to the penile area.

What Does Research Say About Genetic Factors for ED?

According to their findings, the researchers from Keiser Permanente, Northern California, believe that there are certain heritable genes that can increase the risk of developing ED in men. The investigators found that DNA sequence variations near the genome are strongly associated with around a 26% increased risk of erectile disorder. They also discovered that the variants found within the “enhancer” impact its ability to control the functions of a single-minded 1 gene (SIM1). Enhancers, in this context, are short DNA sequences regulating the rate at which a gene is turned on or off.

So is ED Hereditary?

In light of the above explanations, it will be wrong to conclude that your ED was automatically passed to you by your parents. The cause can either be that you have developed it in your lifetime or inherited it. This is still ongoing research, meaning that there is not enough sufficient evidence yet to wholly determine if your ED case is from your family bloodline.

However, if you notice that any of the family-inherited above conditions that impact the functions of the peripheral or central nervous system, you will need to take your sexual health into account, regardless of whether you have ED or not. Studies have shown that making healthy lifestyle choices significantly reduces the risk of having ED.

Is Genetic-Related ED Treatable?

Whether the cause is hereditary or otherwise, the good news about ED is that it can be easily and successfully treated. There are several different treatment methods that can help you overcome the condition. The appropriateness of each method will depend on the underlying cause of the ED. To begin with, you will need to consult your doctor for a thorough evaluation of your case.

Treatment Options for ED

Natural Means

There are different natural means that can help you improve your sex life. They include regular physical exercise, healthy diet, and doing away with smoking, recreational drugs, and alcohol consumption.

Maintain Healthy Relationships

Personal and work relationship problems have been identified as major factors that increase the risk of ED. Ensure that you maintain healthy relationships, especially with your partner, who’s support will prove helpful in reducing the risk of ED occurrences.


The most common and FDA-approved ED medications are Avanafil (Stendra), Alprostadil (Caverject, Edex, Muse), Sildenafil (Viagra), and Tadalafil (Cialis). Around 70% of men report improvement in their sexual performance after taking them. They are classified as phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5) inhibitors. They work by blocking PDE-5 from bringing your erection to an abrupt end during sexual activities. Your doctor is in the best position to tell you the right type and dosage to best suit your condition. Viagra, for instance, is usually started at 50mg dose for men with ED. However, if there are no significant improvements for a while, the dose can be increased, usually to 100mg.


Seeing a counselor will greatly help in tackling the psychological or emotional aspects of your ED. Regardless of the underlying cause, men who suffer erectile disorders are more susceptible to anxiety, depression, and other psychological problems. This can escalate the severity of the condition and hamper the effectiveness of any efforts made towards resolving it. Your counselor will guide you on how to manage the anxiety and stress that trigger the disorder.

How Shockwave Therapy MD Can Help

Here at Shockwave Therapy MD, we are a team of highly trained medical experts specialized in helping men achieve and maintain their best sexual performance. We use the latest technologies and modalities to help our patients become and remain sexually fit and satisfy their partner more. You can book an appointment with us today by filling out this contact form.

This entry was posted in Erectile Dysfunction. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.