Every man wants to maintain a healthy sex life well after middle age, but unfortunately as the years go by it can become increasingly difficult. Men might experience erectile dysfunction as they get older because of naturally decreasing testosterone levels or lifestyle related health issues. But erectile dysfunction (ED) doesn’t HAVE to be in your future. Knowing what causes ED, can help you avoid it and keep you living an overall healthier life. Let’s take a look at some risk factors for ED.
There are plenty of risk factors for erectile dysfunction, but one of the most prominent is chronic disease. Chronic disease includes long term illnesses like diabetes, hypertension, obesity, high cholesterol, and cardiovascular disease. Lifestyle habits like smoking, drug/medication use, nicotine and alcohol use can also contribute to problems with potency. For still others mental health, neurological, or neurophysiological disorders are the problem. These include depression, stress, stroke, spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, dementia, or neurologic disease.
One of the most common causes of erectile dysfunction is atherosclerosis which occurs most often in middle-aged and older men. Atherosclerosis is caused by damage to the small blood vessels. This condition is linked to erectile dysfunction because the small blood vessels are responsible for supplying blood flow to the penis. In a smaller subset of men hormonal abnormalities, or depleted testosterone levels typically due to aging are to blame.
Here is a detailed look at how some chronic disease effect sexual function and can lead to impotence:
1. High Blood Pressure: This can directly lead to erectile dysfunction, as can the medicines used to treat it. These medications act by lowering the pressure inside blood vessels, in order to decrease the strain on the heart. In men, this decreased blood flow can interfere with erections, ejaculation and sexual desire.
2. High Cholesterol: Statins and other drugs used to treat high cholesterol, act by restricting the amount of cholesterol. Cholesterol is an essential building block of hormones, including sex hormones like testosterone. You can probably guess where this is going. A reduction in cholesterol can lead to reduced production of these hormones, and effect a man’s ability to maintain an erection.
3. Diabetes: This condition can damage blood vessels and nerves, two big components of sexual function. As with high blood pressure, the reduced blood flow resulting from damaged vessels can contribute to erectile dysfunction.
4. Depression/Anxiety: Antidepressants act by blocking chemicals in the brain, particularly chemicals that relay signals between nerve cells: serotonin, norepinephrine and acetylcholine. It is well documented that decreased libido, diminished ability to orgasm, impotence and ejaculation are associated with antidepressant usage. Similarly, the mental aspect of sexual function is not to be overshadowed. Performance anxiety, or work related stress can also hinder erectile function.
Quick tips to maintain an erection into older age:
1. Reduce belly fat
2. Quit smoking
3. Exercise daily
4. Get the recommended amount of sleep
5. Drink in moderation