6 surprising reasons why you don’t have an erection
You could put it down to a stressful week at work, an unresolved issue with your partner, or that third shot of tequila at happy hour. And that’s okay: not doing it once in a while isn’t necessarily a cause for concern. But if your initiation failure issues are less situational and more regular, you probably have erectile dysfunction (ED).
Defined as the inability to achieve or maintain an erection “firm” enough for penetration, erectile dysfunction affects 30 million, or approximately 18.7% of American men. Although it is more common with age, young men are not immune, according to a study published in the International Journal of Clinical Practice.
If the numbers seem higher than you expected, it could be because a lot of men don’t feel comfortable talking about it with their friends or even their doctors. they may prefer to ignore it and hope it goes away. But it is a mistake. Before sweeping impotence under the rug, consider that there may be an underlying issue at play that could threaten your overall health.
Here are six conditions that could sabotage your time in the bag:
1) Heart disease
Could softening be a sign that your arteries are hardening? Maybe. Research shows that erectile dysfunction is a strong predictor of heart disease. In fact, it’s as much a risk factor as smoking or a family history of coronary heart disease.
“Erectile dysfunction in some men can precede a major cardiac event — heart attack, stroke — by about 10 years,” says Nelson Bennett Jr., MD, professor of urology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, explaining why younger men with chronic erectile problems are of particular concern to him. Left untreated, high cholesterol and high blood pressure can damage blood vessels, causing them to lose their elasticity and harden the arteries. This can cause plaque to build up inside the arteries, narrowing them and possibly blocking blood flow. “The blood vessels that go directly into the penis are three times smaller than those in your heart,” Dr. Bennett points out. “These are likely to clog first.”
That doesn’t mean you can’t reverse the trend. “I like to tell patients that what’s good for the heart is good for the penis,” says Dr. Bennett. Aside from medication, you want to reduce stress, follow a healthy diet, and exercise regularly. According to a study published in Sexual Medicine.
2) Peyronie’s disease
If you notice a more pronounced curve in your penis lately, you might be dealing with Peyronie’s disease. This connective tissue disorder causes penile deformities and affects around 1 in 100 men (and probably more, as many cases go undiagnosed).
It starts with a “micro injury” to the penis, which you may not notice or remember. “Only 20 percent of people will remember a specific injury,” says Stanton C. Honig, MD, professor of clinical urology and director of the Male Reproductive Health/Sexual Medicine Program at Yale Medicine. “As you heal, scar tissue or plaque may develop, which can cause the erect penis to bend or bend, and shrink or shorten it.”
Depending on the degree of curvature, sex can become painful for you and your partner. “Often, urgency is linked to situational anxiety,” he adds. “You might get super anxious or embarrassed by your bent penis and lose your erection to some degree.”
Early diagnosis can help you recover. “If it’s a mild case, there are minimally invasive treatments, such as Xiaflex, the only FDA-approved treatment for this particular problem,” says Dr. Honig. A series of injections of these collagenase enzymes, spread over six months, work to break down scar tissue. When Peyronie’s disease is more severe, one of two surgeries may be required, both of which can successfully reduce the deformity and eliminate pain.
3) Gum disease
Although poor oral hygiene has not been shown to directly cause erectile dysfunction, there is a correlation that could create problems for your parcel. A scientific journal published in Andrology found “a significant association between erectile dysfunction and periodontitis,” a severe form of gum disease.
A specific bacteria in the mouth appears to be linked to erectile dysfunction. “He can develop [produce] toxins that can cause local and global inflammation in the body,” says Dr. Bennett. Chronic inflammation is known to damage blood vessels and decrease erectile blood flow. It also impairs the release of nitric oxide, which he says “is the chemical the body releases to keep the party going.”
If your gums are tender or you cough up blood when you brush your teeth, go to the dentist for a checkup statistical. And when he or she tells you to floss, do it already. Gum disease has also been linked to heart attacks and diabetes, as well as other major health problems.
4) Sleep apnea
Sawing logs most nights? Fall asleep during the day? You may have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a serious disorder that causes you to stop breathing for 10 to 30 second increments and can cause erectile dysfunction in the process.
“Sleep apnea leads to poor peripheral vascular circulation,” says Elliot Justin, MD, FACP, an emergency medicine specialist based in Bozeman, Montana, and founder of FirmTech, a tech company focused on male sexual wellness. . “Affected individuals have more heart attacks and strokes and a higher incidence of erectile dysfunction.
OSA appears to reduce testosterone and restrict blood oxygen, both essential for healthy erections. Add to that the other side effects of skimping on closing your eyes – stress, fatigue, inability to concentrate – and it’s no wonder you can’t live up to it.
Science is still searching for a definite association between obstructive sleep apnea and erectile dysfunction. According to an analysis of research on the subject and published in the International Journal of Impotence Research, there is only a slightly elevated risk for people with OSA to experience erectile dysfunction compared to those without. However, that shouldn’t stop you from considering noninvasive ventilation to treat your erectile dysfunction. In a study published in sleep medicine, napping with a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine improved erectile function in patients with severe OSA. If that’s not your thing, there are also mouthpieces that temporarily reposition the jaw or tongue, allowing air to flow while you sleep.
And if you don’t need a cure for OSA, focus on not developing it. One thing you can do to prevent yourself from suffering from moderate to severe OSA and erectile dysfunction is to stay in shape and maintain your weight; obesity and low levels of physical activity are associated with both conditions.
Type 2 diabetes can increase your risk of erectile dysfunction. Results from the long-running Massachusetts Male Aging Study showed that men with metabolic disorders tend to develop erectile dysfunction 10 to 15 years earlier than those without.
“There are two mechanisms at play,” says Dr. Justin. “High blood sugar is a neurotoxin, so it saps, weakens, and eventually destroys nerve endings. Diabetes also leads to calcifications and plaque deposits, which damage blood vessels and reduce blood flow to the penis.
But just because you have diabetes doesn’t mean you’ll have erectile dysfunction. managing your condition can prevent damage to the nerves and blood vessels that can occur that can lead to erectile dysfunction. “That’s why we stress the importance of going to the doctor early and changing risk factors,” says Dr. Honig. “If you’re a few pounds overweight, not eating particularly well, or not exercising, this is an opportunity to review your lifestyle decisions and make a change.”
Erectile dysfunction can be a depressing factor, even leading to mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression. And it goes both ways: according to a study conducted in The Journal of Sexual Medicine.
The nervous system triggers erections, and if the system is depressed or distracted, it won’t happen. “When you’re depressed, you release a chemical that basically takes away the erection,” says Dr. Honig.
In addition to causing you to lose interest in many once pleasurable activities (ahem, sex!), depression can lead to self-medication, for example, with alcohol and other recreational drugs, which can increase even more your chances of erectile dysfunction.
If all of this sounds like you, explore the source of your depression with a mental health professional. While it’s true that some antidepressants can cause erectile dysfunction, your doctor can work with you to find a drug in a different class or prescribe a lower dose to minimize side effects.
Here’s a thought that can improve your mood: If you have erectile dysfunction for any reason, your health care provider can help you determine the root cause and treat it, no matter how severe or serious. All you have to do is tell them about it.