Did you know that erectile dysfunction affects more than 30% of men between the ages of 40 and 70?1 From nerve problems to low testosterone, several factors can cause this condition. Certain medications and depression can also play a role. Yet, you might be surprised to learn that atherosclerosis is the most common cause. And while you might attribute atherosclerosis to cardiovascular disease, it turns out that it can impact more than your heart.2 So if you’re having problems in the bedroom, here’s why getting a heart check-up might be the answer.
The Connection Between Your Heart And Erectile Dysfunction
When you have atherosclerosis, your blood vessels can’t dilate properly, making it difficult for blood to flow through. It’s characterized by cholesterol build-up along the blood vessel walls and leads to the formation of plaque. This makes the blood vessels extremely narrow, slowing down blood flow. And when the flow is completely blocked, a heart attack can occur.
While atherosclerosis can affect people in different places, it usually impacts the penis first. Next, it can target the heart, brain, and legs, respectively. Therefore, erectile dysfunction can double as an early indication of heart disease. It might even serve as a warning that you’re at risk for a stroke or heart attack in the next 3 to 5 years.3
Get To The Heart Of Your Sexual Problems
Since erectile dysfunction often stems from the same condition that causes heart disease, it’s no surprise
1. Get Moving
The trick to an active sex life may lie within an active lifestyle. A large study of over 30,000 men between the ages of 53 and 90 years found that frequent vigorous physical activity, equal to running at least 3 hours per week or playing tennis 5 hours per week, meant a 30% lower erectile dysfunction risk than with little or no exercise. This study also found that watching more than 20 hours of television per week can increase your risk of erectile dysfunction. Try your best to ditch the screen and get moving.5
Keep in mind that pelvic floor exercises may be another way to treat erectile dysfunction. One study even suggested it as the first line of defense for men facing the problem.6 A strong pelvic floor can improve rigidity during erections and stop blood from leaving the penis by exerting pressure on a particular vein (the deep dorsal vein).
2. Go Mediterranean With Your Diet
The famous heart-healthy Mediterranean diet can aid your sexual health, too. This diet is high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, nuts, and monounsaturated fats. It also limits red meat, sweets, and foods high in saturated fat. Amazingly enough, men who follow this dietary pattern have lower rates of erectile dysfunction. Even type 2 diabetics who follow
3. Watch Your Weight
Your waistline can have a greater impact on your sex life than you think. According to the Harvard Health Publications, you are 50% more likely to have erectile dysfunction if you have a 42-inch waist compared to a 32-inch waist.9 Research also shows that men with a BMI (body mass index) higher than 28.7 are at 30% higher risk for erectile dysfunction than those with a normal BMI of 25.10 So what’s the deal exactly? Excess weight means bad news for your arteries. It can also mess with your hormone levels.11 Getting your weight under control through diet and exercise doesn’t just help your heart , it can benefit your sex life, too.
4. Turn Down The Pressure
Research shows that erectile dysfunction is more common in men with high blood pressure than in the general population.12 The good news is that blood pressure can be
5. Stop Smoking
Smoking may double your chances of moderate or complete erectile dysfunction. However, research has found that men who’ve quit smoking have the same risk as those who have never smoked. This means that the damage may be reversible, emphasizing that quitting smoking can have a powerful impact on your erectile dysfunction risk.17
Your Doubts Answered
|↑1, ↑2, ↑3||Cardiovascular Implications of Erectile Dysfunction, American Heart Association.|
|↑4||Feldman, Henry A., Catherine B. Johannes, Carol A. Derby, Ken P. Kleinman, Beth A. Mohr, Andre B. Araujo, and John B. McKinlay. “Erectile dysfunction and coronary risk factors: prospective results from the Massachusetts male aging study.” Preventive medicine 30, no. 4 (2000): 328-338.|
|↑5||Bacon, Constance G., Murray A. Mittleman, Ichiro Kawachi,
|↑6||Dorey, Grace, Mark J. Speakman, Roger CL Feneley, Annette Swinkels, and Christopher DR Dunn. “Pelvic floor exercises for erectile dysfunction.” BJU international 96, no. 4 (2005): 595-597.|
|↑7||Esposito, Katherine, Francesco Giugliano, Maria Ida Maiorino, and Dario Giugliano. “Dietary factors, Mediterranean diet and erectile dysfunction.” The journal of sexual medicine 7, no. 7 (2010): 2338-2345.|
|↑8, ↑9||5 natural ways to overcome erectile dysfunction, Harvard Health Publications.|
|↑10||Esposito, Katherine, Francesco Giugliano, Carmen Di Palo, Giovanni Giugliano, Raffaele Marfella, Francesco D’Andrea, Massimo D’Armiento,
|↑11||Traish, Abdulmaged M., Robert J. Feeley, and Andre Guay. “Mechanisms of obesity and related pathologies: androgen deficiency and endothelial dysfunction may be the link between obesity and erectile dysfunction.” FEBS journal 276, no. 20 (2009): 5755-5767.|
|↑12||Burchardt, Martin, Tatjana Burchardt, Leslie Baer, Alexander J. Kiss, Rahul V. Pawar, Ahmad Shabsigh, A. L. E. X. A. N. D. R. E. DE LA Taile, Omar R. Hayek, and Ridwan Shabsigh. “Hypertension is associated with severe erectile dysfunction.” The Journal of urology 164, no. 4 (2000): 1188-1191.|
|↑13||Your Guide To Lowering Blood Pressure, National Institutes of Health.|
|↑14||Grassi, Davide, Giovambattista Desideri, Stefano Necozione, Cristina Lippi, Raffaele Casale, Giuliana Properzi, Jeffrey B. Blumberg, and Claudio Ferri. “Blood pressure is reduced and insulin sensitivity increased in glucose-intolerant, hypertensive subjects after 15 days of consuming high-polyphenol dark chocolate.” The Journal of nutrition 138, no. 9 (2008): 1671-1676.|
|↑15||Asgary, Sedigheh, Amirhossein Sahebkar, Mohammad Reza Afshani, Mahtab Keshvari, Shaghayegh Haghjooyjavanmard, and Mahmoud Rafieian‐Kopaei. “Clinical Evaluation of Blood Pressure Lowering, Endothelial Function Improving, Hypolipidemic and Anti‐Inflammatory Effects of Pomegranate Juice in Hypertensive Subjects.” Phytotherapy Research 28, no. 2 (2014): 193-199.|
|↑16||Keenan, Joseph M., Joel J. Pins, Christina Frazel, Antoinette Moran, and Lisa Turnquist. “Oat ingestion reduces systolic and diastolic blood pressure in patients with mild or borderline hypertension: a
|↑17||McVARY, Kevin T., Serge Carrier, and Hunter Wessells. “Smoking and erectile dysfunction: evidence based analysis.” The Journal of urology 166, no. 5 (2001): 1624-1632.|