Erectile dysfunction (ED) is known to affect around 30 million American men. That’s almost the entire population of Canada! After premature ejaculation, it is the second most common sexual disorder in men.1 Most men don’t even realize that certain everyday habits can increase their risk for erectile dysfunction.
Habits And Activities That Increase ED Risk
ED can occur because of many reasons such as stress, anxiety, high blood pressure, diabetes, prostate cancer treatment and others health conditions. But, research has shown that certain lesser known factors and activities that we do in daily life may also contribute to or aggravate the condition. Here are 6 surprising factors that increase ED risk.
Disruptive snoring is a characteristic symptom of sleep apnea, a common disorder that constantly interrupts one’s breathing during sleep. Research has shown a close link between sleep apnea and ED.2
One study found that men with ED were twice as likely to have sleep apnea than those without it. A study conducted to evaluate the association between snoring and five measures of sexual dysfunction in men showed a close link between constant snoring and ED.3
Sleep apnea is a serious health condition that is also linked to high blood pressure, heart disease, and other problems. Treating sleep apnea and lifestyle changes can reduce your risk for ED and also improve overall health.
While consuming prescription drugs, hardly any of us read the warnings or cautionary note printed on the medicine’s cover. Many commonly used medications specify erection problems as a potential side-effect. Some common medicines include popular hair growth drugs, certain antidepressants, and some blood pressure-lowering drugs.
Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI) antidepressants that increase serotonin levels in the brain can contribute to ED as serotonin is a sexual inhibitor.4 Some medication may also cause spontaneous, long-lasting erections that can injure tissue and lead to ED.
While a few blood pressure drugs can help treat ED in some cases, certain drugs such as diuretics can actually increase the risk. If men who consume medications experience ED, they must consult their physician at the earliest.
Recent estimates suggest that there are over 70 million bicycle riders in the United States alone. The close relationship between cycling and ED has been reported and studied since 1975.5 One study involving more than 1700 men found that those who rode a bike more than three hours a week had higher rates of ED than those who rode less often.
The research also found that less-frequent cycling may prevent ED and the bicycle seat was found to be the culprit. A hard bicycle seat with a nose extension can compress the perineum (the area between the anus and scrotum), squeezing the arteries and nerves necessary for normal sexual function.6
The weight of the bicycle riders falls directly on the area where the nerves and arteries enter the penis. But, don’t give up cycling yet. Instead, opt for leather seats that conform more comfortably to the shape of the rider and use grooved or noseless bike seats, which minimize pressure to the perineum.
Long-distance riders can reduce their risk of ED by riding a road bike instead of a mountain bike. At the gym, work out on a recumbent bike, which moves the body to a laid-back reclining position and distributes weight more evenly.
Injuries to the pelvis from severe trauma or road accidents can injure or damage nerves and arteries in the urethra, causing ED. The main artery to the penis that supplies blood necessary for erections is connected to the pelvic bone.
Extreme trauma or injury in this region can crush the artery. Research in the Journal of Urology found a close link between pelvic fractures and sexual dysfunction. Even injuries to the spinal cord can lead to ED.7
A kick to the crotch while practicing martial arts or accidents that cause injuries to the sexual organ can also lead to ED in men. Any injury to the pelvic area requires immediate medical attention, as the resulting ED may not occur until months after the injury.
5. Canned Foods
Canned foods are commonly found in most kitchens. These aluminum cans are internally coated with a material that contains bisphenol-A (BPA), a chemical that can interfere with hormone systems by mimicking estrogen in women and inhibiting sex hormones in men.
A Chinese study found that men who were exposed to BPA in their factories had four times the risk of ED compared to workers who were not exposed to the chemical.8 More research found that even very low levels of BPA in men due to non-occupational everyday exposure was also closely linked to ED and decreased desire.
BPA is also found in many reusable hard plastic containers, bottles and even in cash register receipts and white dental sealants. Other studies in humans and lab rats have also shown similar results.9
A better option is to avoid exposure to BPA by choosing fresh foods instead of canned ones. If you have to use plastic, ensure that containers, bottles, and toys are BPA-free. Avoid plastics with the number “7” on the bottom and don’t use plastic containers in the microwave or dishwasher as the heat releases the chemicals.
No, flossing your teeth does not cause erectile dysfunction. The risk of ED increases if you do not floss your teeth. Unhealthy gums are not only bad for your teeth and your heart, but also for your virility. Recent research shows that there is a definite link between chronic periodontitis (CP) and erectile dysfunction (ED).10
A study by Israeli researchers revealed that over 15 percent of men with chronic gum disease had ED, while just two percent of men without ED had gum problems. Oral bacteria can travel through the bloodstream and combine with the plaque to clog blood vessels, including those in the penis, which can cause ED.
Since most research articles and studies show a positive connection between CP and ED, men must make it a point to regularly floss their teeth and maintain oral hygiene that can keep the gums healthy.11
|↑1||Cohan, Pejman, and Stanley G. Korenman. “Erectile dysfunction.” The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism 86, no. 6 (2001): 2391-2394.|
|↑2||Chen, Chia-Min, Ming-Ju Tsai, Po-Ju Wei, Yu-Chung Su, Chih-Jen Yang, Meng-Ni Wu, Chung-Yao Hsu, Shang-Jyh Hwang, Inn-Wen Chong, and Ming-Shyan Huang. “Erectile Dysfunction in Patients with Sleep Apnea–A Nationwide Population-Based Study.” PloS one 10, no. 7 (2015): e0132510.|
|↑3||Hanak, Viktor, Debra J. Jacobson, Michaela E. McGree, Jennifer St Sauver, Michael M. Lieber, Eric J. Olson, Virend K. Somers, Naomi M. Gades, and Steven J. Jacobsen. “Snoring as a risk factor for sexual dysfunction in community men.” The journal of sexual medicine 5, no. 4 (2008): 898-908.|
|↑4||Shankar, G. S. “Serotonin and Sexual Dysfunction.” J Autacoids Horm 5, no. 1 (2015): e129.|
|↑5||Grunbaum, Ami, and Serge Carrier. “Bicycling and erectile dysfunction: a review of the literature.” Journal of Sexual & Reproductive Medicine 2, no. 2 (2002).|
|↑6||Huang, Vincent, Ricardo Munarriz, and Irwin Goldstein. “PATHOPHYSIOLOGY: Bicycle Riding and Erectile Dysfunction: An Increase in Interest (and Concern).” The journal of sexual medicine 2, no. 5 (2005): 596-604.|
|↑7||Shridharani, Anand N., and William O. Brant. “The treatment of erectile dysfunction in patients with neurogenic disease.” Translational andrology and urology 5, no. 1 (2016): 88.|
|↑8||Li, D., Z. Zhou, D. Qing, Y. He, T. Wu, M. Miao, J. Wang et al. “Occupational exposure to bisphenol-A (BPA) and the risk of self-reported male sexual dysfunction.” Human reproduction 25, no. 2 (2009): 519-527.|
|↑9||Kovanecz, I., R. Gelfand, M. Masouminia, S. Gharib, D. Segura, D. Vernet, J. Rajfer, D. K. Li, K. Kannan, and N. F. Gonzalez-Cadavid. “ORAL BISPHENOL A (BPA) GIVEN TO RATS AT MODERATE DOSES IS ASSOCIATED WITH ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION, CAVERNOSAL LIPOFIBROSIS, AND ALTERATIONS OF GLOBAL GENE TRANSCRIPTION.” International journal of impotence research 26, no. 2 (2014): 67.|
|↑10||Kellesarian, Sergio Varela, Tammy Varela Kellesarian, Vanessa Ros Malignaggi, Mansour Al-Askar, Alexis Ghanem, Hans Malmstrom, and Fawad Javed. “Association between periodontal disease and erectile dysfunction: A systematic review.” American journal of men’s health (2016): 1557988316639050.|
|↑11||Shariff, Jaffer A., Aparna Ingleshwar, Kevin C. Lee, and Athanasios I. Zavras. “Relationship between Chronic Periodontitis and Erectile Dysfunction: A Narrative Review.” Journal of Oral Diseases 2016 (2016).|