A recent study suggests that the true cause for a man’s erectile dysfunction may lie in his relationship (or lack thereof) with his mother. According to the study, males who have a strained relationship with their mothers during childhood may be more likely to experience sexual problems as an adult.

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is the inability to achieve or sustain an erection suitable for sexual intercourse. It’s a fairly common condition and can be brought on by a number of factors, including medication, lifestyle, and physical health. However, researchers at the Charles University in Prague identified a man’s early relationship with their mothers as another cause for the condition.

The researchers concluded that in some instances ED may be a psychogenic disease, that is, a physical illness that stems from emotional or mental stresses. Once referred to as “hysterical illnesses,” these illnesses are extremely difficult to diagnose because there are no clear physical causes, LiveScience reported.

In the study, researchers questioned 960 men aged between 15 and 88 on their sexual habits and childhood experiences, The Huffington Post UK reported. They found that men who experienced emotional issues during childhood often went on to develop sexual issues later in life. However, the most significant early life experience to influence a man’s sexual health was his relationship with his mother.

The age at which a man first fell in live also seemed to influence sexual dysfunction later in life. Men who fell in love younger experienced less trouble in their sexual life than those who fell in love later or never experienced love.

While this study does point to a psychological cause to ED, science has already confirmed that many physical factors also contribute to the condition. For example, alcohol dependency, high blood pressure, and Parkinson’s disease have all been proved as contributing factors to ED.

Erectile dysfunction is not the first sexual condition to be linked to early life experience. According to Sigmund Freud, the founding father of psychoanalysis, many sexual acts are linked to childhood experiences. For example, Freud believed oral sex was linked to suckling and swallowing. According to Freud, the first five years of life are crucial to the formation of a personality, and children are born with a libido. According to the psychologist, childhood experiences could go on to determine adult personality, or in this case, adult health conditions.

Source: Brody S, Weiss P. Erectile Dysfunction and Premature Ejaculation: Interrelationships and Psychosexual Factors. The Journal of Sexual Medicine. 2014.