It's not easy for men to talk about problems in the bedroom. An inability to have sex with penetration can result in a stigma around being unable to perform. Worse, it might mean having difficulties fathering a child.
But it can also be a sign of a dangerous underlying health condition. A blood test can reveal issues beyond problems sustaining an erection. Read through this article to learn why blood tests are important.
A blood test is a useful diagnostic tool for all sorts of conditions. Erectile dysfunction (ED) can be a sign of heart disease, diabetes, and low testosterone (low T), among other things.
All of these conditions can be serious, but are treatable and should be addressed. A blood test can determine whether you have high sugar levels, high cholesterol, or low testosterone.
The vessels that send blood to the penis can get clogged in men with heart disease, just as other blood vessels can. Sometimes ED can be the first sign of atherosclerosis, which results in reduced blood flow in your arteries.
Complications of diabetes can also result in a lack of blood blow to the penis. In fact, ED can be an early sign of diabetes in men under 45.
Heart disease and diabetes can cause low T. Low T also can be a sign of health conditions such as HIV or opioid abuse. Either way, low T can result in reduced sex drive, depression, and weight gain.
Ignoring the Problem
Diabetes and heart disease can become expensive to treat and even deadly when left unchecked. Proper diagnosis and treatment are necessary to avoid further complications.
You should talk to your doctor if you’re experiencing persistent ED—even if you’re not sexually active.
ED and Diabetes
According to the National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse, as many as three in four men with diabetes have ED.
More than 40 percent of men over 40 have a difficult time achieving the firmness needed for penetration, according to the Massachusetts Male Aging Study. For diabetes patients, erectile dysfunction can occur up to 15 years sooner, the NDIC reports.
ED and Other Risks
You have a 40 percent chance of developing ED if you have high blood pressure or high cholesterol, according to the Urology Care Foundation (UCF). Both high blood pressure and high cholesterol can lead to heart disease.
UCF also reports that 30 percent of men with HIV and half of men with AIDS experience ED. Additionally, 75 percent of chronic opioid abusers experience ED.
Treating the underlying health condition is often the first step toward successfully treating ED. Individual causes of ED all have their own treatments. For instance, if a condition like anxiety or depression is causing ED, professional therapy may help.
Proper diet and exercise are essential for people with diabetes or heart disease. Medication can help treat physical causes like high blood pressure or high cholesterol.
Other methods are available to directly treat ED. Patches can administer hormone treatments for men with low T. Oral medications are available as well, including tadalafil (Cialis), sildenafil (Viagra), and vardenafil (Levitra).
Call Your Doctor
Call your doctor for a checkup if you’re experiencing ED. And don’t be afraid to ask for the appropriate tests. Pinpointing and treating the underlying cause will help alleviate your ED and allow you to enjoy a healthy sex life once again.