As many as 30 million American men are estimated to experience some form of erectile dysfunction (ED). However, when you’re experiencing problems getting or maintaining an erection, no statistic will comfort you. Here, learn about one common cause of erectile dysfunction and what you can do to treat it.
The symptoms of ED are generally easy to identify:
- You’re suddenly no longer able to achieve or maintain an erection.
- You may also experience a decrease in sexual desire.
Symptoms of ED may be intermittent. You may experience ED symptoms for a few days or a couple weeks and then have them resolve. If your ED comes back or becomes chronic, seek medical attention.
ED can affect men at any age. However, the problem typically becomes more common as you grow older.
ED can be caused by an emotional or physical issue or a combination of the two. Physical causes of ED are more common in older men. For younger men, emotional issues are typically the cause of ED.
Several physical conditions can impede blood flow to the penis, so finding the precise cause may take some time and patience. ED may be caused by:
- Injury or physical causes, such as spinal cord injury or scar tissue inside the penis.
- Some treatments for prostate cancer or enlarged prostate.
- Disease, such as hormonal imbalance, depression, diabetes, or high blood pressure.
- Drugs or medications, such as illicit drugs, blood pressure medications, heart medications, or antidepressants.
- Emotional causes, such as anxiety, stress, fatigue, or relationship conflicts.
- Lifestyle issues, such as heavy alcohol use, tobacco use, or obesity.
Obesity increases your risk for several diseases or conditions, including ED. Men who are overweight or obese have a higher risk of developing:
- heart disease
- high cholesterol
All of these conditions can cause ED on their own. But combined with obesity, the chances you’ll experience ED increase greatly.
Losing weight may be one of the best ways to restore normal erectile function. One study found:
- Over 30 percent of the men who took part in the weight-loss study regained normal sexual function.
- These men lost an average of 33 pounds over a 2-year span. In addition to weight loss, the men showed reduced oxidative and inflammatory activity.
- By comparison, only 5 percent of the men in the control group had erectile function restored.
The researchers did not rely on any pharmaceutical or surgical options to achieve the weight loss. Instead, the men in the group ate 300 fewer calories each day and increased their weekly physical activity. The eat-less-move-more approach may be very beneficial for men who are looking for answers to ED and other physical problems.
In another study, older men who were overweight or obese and had diabetes were able to maintain their erectile function longer after undergoing an intensive lifestyle intervention. This intervention included weight-loss measures and increased physical activity. After one year on this program, a higher percentage of men who were taking part in the intervention maintained their erectile function, when compared to the men who did not undergo the lifestyle intervention.
As a bonus, men who lose weight may experience increased self-esteem and improved mental health. All in all, these are great things if you’re looking to end your ED.
Talk with Your Doctor
If you’re experiencing difficulties with erectile function, make an appointment to speak with your doctor. The potential causes of ED are quite vast. Fortunately, many of them are easily identifiable and treatable. Your doctor can help, so have the discussion as soon as you’re ready.