Is There A Link Between High Cholesterol And Erectile Dysfunction (ED)?
Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a common condition. It is estimated to affect 30 million men in the United States; men with ED have difficulty achieving and maintaining an erection.
For most men, the inability to achieve or maintain an erection occurs from time to time, and when men consistently have this difficulty, they can be diagnosed with ED.
ED can be caused by a variety of factors, including a poor heart condition. High cholesterol levels can affect the health of the heart.
Can treating high cholesterol help treat ED? According to research, it may have a small effect.
The most common cause of ED is atherosclerosis, which is the narrowing of blood vessels.
Many things can cause atherosclerosis, including high cholesterol. When cholesterol levels in the blood are high, cholesterol builds up in the arteries. This causes these blood vessels to narrow.
Researchers have also found a link between ED (also known as hypercholesterolemia) and high cholesterol. While this link is not fully understood, it has prompted researchers to explore the use of cholesterol-lowering drugs to treat erectile dysfunction.
Statins and erectile dysfunction (ED)
Statins are drugs used to lower cholesterol levels; in a 2017 rat study, researchers found that erectile function improved after treating high cholesterol levels with atorvastatin (Lipitor). There was no change in blood lipid levels.
The researchers concluded that the improvement in erectile function was due to an improvement in the endothelium, not a reduction in cholesterol levels. The endothelium is the inner surface of blood vessels.
A 2014 review of the literature also showed that statins can improve erectile dysfunction over time.
On the other hand, a 2009 study found evidence that lipid-lowering medications may cause or worsen erectile dysfunction. In more than half of the reported cases, men recovered from ED after stopping taking statins.
A 2015 cohort analysis found no association between statins and an increased risk of ED or sexual dysfunction. In addition, ED was not listed as a common side effect of statins. Further research is needed to better understand the relationship between statins and ED.
Remember, Physical activity and maintaining a healthy weight can help prevent and treat erectile dysfunction. This also means quitting smoking and limiting the amount of alcohol you drink.
Diet, cholesterol and ED
Eating foods high in cholesterol does not necessarily affect blood cholesterol levels. That said, what you eat can affect erectile dysfunction. Recent studies suggest that a healthy diet, particularly the Mediterranean diet, may help improve symptoms.
The pillars of the Mediterranean diet include the following
- Seafood, such as shrimp and oysters.
- Fruits such as apples, grapes, strawberries, and avocados
- Whole grains
- Healthy fats, such as olives and extra virgin olive oil
- Nuts, such as almonds and walnuts
Things to avoid
- Foods high in trans fats, such as margarine, frozen pizza and fast food.
- Sugary foods
- Certain vegetable oils, including canola oil
- Processed meats
A chronic deficiency of vitamin B-12 can lead to ED, so be sure to include B12-rich foods in your diet. Also, consider taking a B-12 supplement. Click here to learn more about the link between diet and erectile dysfunction.
Buy vitamin B-12 supplements.
Other Risk Factors for ED
Other risk factors associated with ED include the following
- Type 2 diabetes
- Chronic kidney disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Leukoplakia of the penis
- Bladder cancer surgery
- Lesions caused by prostate cancer treatment
- Injuries to the penis, spinal cord, bladder, pelvis and prostate
- Alcohol abuse
- Mental stress
Some medications can also cause erectile dysfunction. These include.
- Blood Pressure Drugs
- Treatment of prostate cancer
- Prescription sedatives
- Appetite suppressants
- Ulcer medications
When to see a doctor
Talk to your doctor as soon as you notice erectile dysfunction; ED is often a sign of an underlying health problem, so it’s important to determine the cause before it becomes more serious.
Watch for the following symptoms of ED
- Inability to get an erection when you want to have sex, even if you can get an erection at other times
- Erectile dysfunction
High cholesterol levels do not cause obvious symptoms and can only be diagnosed by blood tests. You should have regular checkups so that your doctor can diagnose and treat any health problems early.
Your doctor may also order certain laboratory tests, such as a testosterone level test or psychological tests to diagnose erectile difficulties.
There are a variety of ways to deal with erectile dysfunction, from lifestyle changes to daily medications. Treatment options for ED include
- Talk therapy
- Medication changes when erectile dysfunction is suspected
- Testosterone replacement therapy
The following medications may also be used to manage the symptoms of ED
- Oral medications such as avanafil (Stendra), sildenafil (Viagra), and tadalafil (Cialis)
- Alprazolam injections
- Alprazolam suppositories
In addition to diet, there are other lifestyle habits that can help lower high cholesterol levels and improve ED. Try these options.
According to Harvard Health Publications, walking 30 minutes a day can reduce the risk of ED by 41%.
Obesity is a significant risk factor for ED. A 2014 confidence source study found that 79 percent of men considered overweight or obese had erectile dysfunction.
Physical activity and maintaining a healthy weight can help prevent and treat erectile dysfunction. This also means quitting smoking and limiting the amount of alcohol you drink.
Pelvic floor exercises
Kegel exercises that strengthen the pelvic floor can help you maintain an erection for longer. Learn more about Kegel exercises for men here.
Researchers have not determined whether high cholesterol is a direct cause of ED, but it may contribute to erectile dysfunction. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of developing erectile dysfunction.
If you are concerned about your cholesterol or erectile dysfunction, talk to your doctor. He or she can help you find the right treatment plan for you.