Obesity and Erectile Dysfunction
Erectile dysfunction is the inability to attain or sustain an erection of the penis long enough for a successful sexual intercourse. According to the American Journal of Medicine, as many as 18 million American men above the age of 18 suffer from erectile dysfunction. Almost 50 to 60% of these men are between the ages of 40 and 70 years. It was earlier believed that this condition was more likely due to mental causes like anxiety or depression. However, now doctors know that apart from psychological causes, erectile dysfunction can be caused by a variety of medical conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes. More and more studies done in the recent past have found a significant link between obesity and erectile dysfunction. It has been seen that in obese or overweight men, the risk of suffering from erectile dysfunction increases by as much as 30 to 90%.
Let us look more closely at the relationship between obesity and erectile dysfunction.
Obesity Damages the Endothelium of the Blood Vessels in the Penis
When a man is sexually aroused, the lining of the blood vessels in the penis, i.e. the endothelium releases a molecule called as nitric oxide. This molecule causes the muscles surrounding the blood vessels to relax thereby providing space to the blood vessels to dilate. The dilated blood vessels get filled up with blood and the penis attains an erection.
It is believed that obesity damages the endothelium of the blood vessels. The release of nitric oxide is hampered which, in turn, does not allows enough dilatation of the vessels. As the blood that gets filled up in the vessels is less, the erection cannot be maintained for long.
Obesity Can Cause Thickening of the Vessels of the Penis
The fatty food and lack of exercise that contributes to obesity can also cause thickening and hardening of blood vessels because of the deposition of cholesterol in the vessel walls. When this deposition occurs in the walls of the vessels of the penis, they cannot dilate properly. This may lead to erectile dysfunction.
Testosterone is the male sex hormone responsible for maintain the sex drive. But studies have found that in men who are obese, particularly those with a high amount of belly fat, the levels of testosterone hormone are often found to be low.
Obesity Can Lead to Diabetes
It has been seen that the likelihood of developing diabetes is two to three times more in men who are obese. Diabetes, in itself, is an important factor responsible for erectile dysfunction. Men begin to notice signs of erectile dysfunction within ten years of being diagnosed with diabetes.
Obesity Can lead to High Blood Pressure
It is an established fact that chances of developing high blood pressure are much more in people who are obese. Now, studies have found that in men suffering from hypertension, the penile blood flow is abnormal when seen through Doppler studies. This can be a cause behind erectile dysfunction.
Researchers say that the impact of obesity on sexual health of men and erectile dysfunction is more of a physical issue than a psychological issue. But there is a definite link between obesity and erectile dysfunction. This should be reason enough for men to get off from the couch and hit the gym.