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What Causes Erectile Dysfunction? Busting Common ED Myths

Thursday 16 April 2020
Erectile Dysfunction

Table of Contents

Lifestyle factors

Drugs and alcohol

Medical conditions

Myths about ED

Myths and risk factors for ED

Erectile dysfunction is a condition that affects millions of men across the country. ED can sometimes signify a more serious underlying condition, so it is important to know if any of your lifestyle choices are putting you at risk. TRead on to learn more about risk factors of erectile dysfunction as well as some common misconceptions. 

Lifestyle factors

Your everyday routines play a large role in your sexual health. A healthy diet and exercise regime is important for everyone, but if you have pre-existing conditions, then this routine is even more essential. ED is heavily connected to the overall functioning of the circulatory system, so a heart condition can quickly affect all other aspects of the body. Lifestyle factors that affect your sexual health can include: 

Inactive lifestyle: Moving around and participating in regular exercise maintains healthy blood flow. Sitting on the couch or staying sedentary for long periods can increase your risk for dangerous blood clots. Cardio exercise like a brisk run or jog can keep the heart muscles active and healthy.[1]

Overweight: There is no direct link between being overweight and ED, but many studies show that men experience improved sexual function when they lose excess pounds. Some scientists often link testosterone levels with obesity and those who are overweight often have lower hormone levels. One California study found that having a BMI (body mass index) of 28 or over increased a man’s odds of developing ED by 90 percent. [2] 

Stress and anxiety: Feelings of stress and anxiety can easily bleed over into your sex life. Stress about a work presentation or anxiety about a relationship can lead to erectile dysfunction. If your mind is occupied with a million different things then it can be nearly impossible to keep or get an erection.  

two old people crossing the road

Drugs and alcohol 

Everyone has their own vices, but some vices can be detrimental to a person’s health and sex life. If you are predisposed to heart problems and experience ED then avoiding hard drugs and alcohol may be the right move. 

Effects of alcohol: If you are drinking more than two drinks a day, you could be hindering your ability to keep or maintain an erection. Alcohol restricts the blood flow to the penis and reduces the production of testosterone. If you are experiencing ED and drink regularly, then cutting alcohol out of your diet may improve your sexual health. 

Effects of illegal drug use: Partaking in recreational drugs can contribute to your erectile dysfunction. Marijunana and cocaine damage your blood vessels over time, so avoiding these substances can improve your daily life. 

Effects of smoking: Smoking is not recommended for anyone, but if you smoke and are experiencing ED, then your tobacco habit is most likely the culprit. Smoking injures the lining of the blood vessels and affects the way they function. The chemicals affect just about every organ in the body, so if your blood vessels harden then blood cannot reach the penis. 

Medical conditions

Pre-existing medical conditions are often the cause of ED. Several diseases affect blood flow in the body and affected blood flow directly impacts a man’s ability to keep or maintain an erection. Some common medical conditions that can result in ED include:

Diabetes: Diabetes is a condition where the body cannot properly absorb and use its insulin. Diabetes can cause damage to nerves which can affect sensations of the penis. Poor long-term blood sugar control can lead to blood vessel damage. It is important to talk to your doctor if you have poorly controlled diabetes and are experiencing sexual problems. [1]

Heart conditions: If you participate in activities that can affect the function of your heart, then plaque can build up in your vessels and arteries. This condition (atherosclerosis) limits blood flow to important organs in the body, including the penis. This is a serious condition that can result in a heart attack. High cholesterol and high blood pressure can also contribute to damage to blood vessel linings and affect the arteries that lead to the genitals. [3]  

a diagram of what happens during a heart attack

Myths about ED

Erectile dysfunction is a complicated issue that can be caused by several things, so there is plenty of misinformation about this condition. Many questions arise when you experience ED, so read below to better understand what is fact and fiction.  

Myth: ED is a normal part of growing older. 

Truth: Erectile dysfunction is more common in older men, but this condition should be monitored closely in men of every age. As mentioned earlier, ED can be a sign of more serious medical conditions. It is not unusual for older men to have a harder time getting aroused, but talk with your doctor if your ED continues to be a problem. Your doctor may prescribe medications like Viagra or Cialis to improve your sex life. If these drugs do not help, more tests may be necessary. 

Myth: ED does not affect young men. 

Truth: This is a common misconception because ED affects men of all ages. ED is more common in older men due to a decrease in testosterone or accompanying medical disorders. Young men are more likely to experience psychologically-related ED, which is caused by stress or relationship problems. This type of ED is often improved through the help of a therapist. 

Myth: There’s nothing dangerous about ED.

Truth: Most men will experience ED at some point in their life and it is usually not a big deal. BUT if this condition occurs persistently, then it could indicate a serious underlying condition. If the penis is not receiving substantial blood flow then an arterial problem within the body may be present. Always consult your physician if your ED occurs more frequently than normal. [4] 

The content in this article is intended for informational purposes only. This website does not provide medical advice. In all circumstances, you should always seek the advice of your physician and/or other qualified health professionals(s) for drug, medical condition, or treatment advice. The content provided on this website is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.