When talking about health complications and the risks that come with being overweight, things like heart attack, stroke, and cancer are often the first that come to mind. But did you know that packing on those extra pounds can also be tied to erectile dysfunction?
HOW DOES AN ERECTION WORK?
Before we dig into why being overweight can lead to difficulties getting an erection, it’s important that you understand what erectile dysfunction is in the first place. An erection begins in the brain when the nerves send signals through the body. The signals relax the arteries, allowing more blood to flow into the penis, creating pressure in the corpora cavernosa. The penis then hardens, resulting in an erection. ED is the inability to achieve or maintain an erection sufficient enough for masturbation or sex, and can be caused by a number of things. However, almost all of the causes come down to the brain not sending the right signals to the body or a lack of blood flow to the penis.
DOES BEING OVERWEIGHT CAUSE ED?
While there are no studies that prove being overweight in and of itself causes erectile dysfunction, it is directly linked to conditions that cause problems for both the blood flow and psychological aspects of an erection. For one, obesity is associated with a whole host of cardiovascular issues ranging from high blood pressure to heart disease. If blood cannot freely and readily flow to the penis, there will be no erection. In some cases, ED may even be one of the first signs of heart disease or other serious health conditions. Obesity is also a leading factor in high cholesterol and diabetes, which are two other conditions closely linked to ED. And on top of all of this, studies show a correlation between obesity and lower levels of testosterone, a hormone which is vital for normal sexual performance and libido in men.
OBESITY AND THE MIND
Carrying extra weight affects more than a person’s physical health. Because state of mind plays a role in a guy’s ability to perform, problems with body image can lead to problems in the bedroom as well. Performance anxieties and confidence issues can contribute to ED and make it difficult to get in the mood. Let’s face it…when we aren’t feeling our best, our bodies don’t perform at their best.
HOW TO TREAT ED CAUSED BY OBESITY
Luckily, erectile dysfunction is treatable, especially when tied to being overweight, which can be remedied by lifestyle changes. A 2014 study showed that for those who are overweight and suffer from ED, an improvement in physical activity combined with a reduction in body weight is often an effective treatment method.
If lifestyle changes aren’t doing the trick, there are other treatment options out there. You’re probably familiar with prescription medications like Viagra and Cialis, which can work but can also be costly and come with adverse side effects. There are a number of physical devices on the market as well. Wearable solutions like Giddy are free of side effects, while others like constriction rings may cause painful or uncomfortable ejaculation. More extreme and expensive treatments include penile implants or surgery.
Being sexually active and confident is important in our relationships with our partners and ourselves, and ED can get in the way of that. It can be hard to talk about, but the more we openly discuss the causes and treatment options for men living with ED, the sooner everyone can get back to having a healthy sex life. And that’s something we can all get on board with!