Erectile dysfunction is a difficult condition for a sexually active man to deal with. Not only is it frustrating but psychologically it can be damaging to a man’s self-esteem. It can also affect the relationships they are in. This on its own is reason enough to seek treatment for ED. However the other main reason is that there is usually a link between ED and other health conditions.
While ED gets more common as a man ages, it can start a lot earlier in life if there is an underlying health condition which is causing it. Examples of said conditions include diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, sleep disorders and more. Sometimes, men don’t discover they have diabetes until they seek help for ED. A study revealed that 5% of men with erectile dysfunction also had un-diagnosed diabetes.
Between 50-60% of men with diabetes over the age of 50 suffer from ED. This number jumps to 95% for men over the age of 70.
How are underlying medical conditions connected to ED?
Let’s start with high blood pressure. When there’s high blood pressure, the heart is working harder to pump blood around the body. As such, less blood reaches the penis. Less blood to the penis means it’s harder to get an erection. About two thirds of men report problems with the quality of their erections when dealing with high blood pressure.
High cholesterol means that there is too much low-density lipoprotein or “bad cholesterol”. This builds up on the artery walls which can lead to erection problems.
It is very common for men with heart disease to suffer from ED. With heart disease, the arteries are built up with plaque and it interferes with blood flow. To get an erection, men need a strong blood flow to the penis. This doesnt happen if there is atherosclerosis.
With regards to diabetes, many diabetic men find they have lower levels of testosterone. Testosterone is the main sex hormone for men, and low levels make it difficult to get and maintain erections.
Diabetes also damages the penile nerves. It also reduces blood flow to and from the penis due to a narrowing of blood vessels. If blood sugar is not controlled properly, less Nitric Oxide will be produced or your body won’t respond to it. When this happens, the penis is not able to trap enough blood that flows in, and as such, it won’t get hard.
Men who have sleep apnea or other sleep disorders will often experience a decrease in testosterone and oxygen levels. This makes it difficult to get and maintain an erection. Additionally, the fatigue and stress associated with sleep disorders makes sexual problems worse. Research has in fact shown that 69% of men who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea have also been diagnosed with ED.
Is there treatment available?
Yes! Don’t suffer in silence. Almost all men who suffer from diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, sleep disorders or other medical conditions combined with ED, can find a treatment plan that will make a huge improvement to their quality of life.
If you or your partner have been finding it difficult to get or maintain an erection, the first thing to do is make an appointment with a doctor. It is a common issue and one that the doctor will likely have a lot of experience with. They will perform a number of tests to see if there are any underlying medical conditions which are causing ED. If there are, treating these conditions will likely result in better and more frequent erections. And even if there is no underlying health condition, the doctor will be able to recommend which treatment to use that will help the most.
There are oral medications such as Sildenafil, Tadalafil and many more which promote blood flow to the penis and make it easier to get an erection. Depending on your health, your doctor will be able to advise which medication is suitable for you. Some medications interact with other health conditions so it’s always important to discuss these with your doctor.
If oral medication isn’t right for you, there are penis suppositories, injections and vacuum-constriction devices that you can use to improve blood flow.
Don’t forget that stopping smoking, increasing exercise, limiting alcohol and eating a nutritious diet also play an important role in your health and your ability to get an erection. It’s worthwhile to make these lifestyle changes to give yourself the best chance possible.