Erectile Dysfunction is a persistent inability to get or maintain an erection firm enough for sexual intercourse. It is a prevalent condition affecting about 3 million Canadian men. Many men may face occasional problems in maintaining or getting an erection. But when this happens more than 50% of the time, for at least three months, you may have ED.

Various factors, including heart problems, may cause ED. As high cholesterol levels affect your heart, it can also result in erectile dysfunction

Dietary modifications and various treatment options can help manage both ED and dyslipidemia. If you have either condition, consult your doctor, and they will help you with the best suitable treatment option for you.

Atherosclerosis and ED

Atherosclerosis, which is the hardening and narrowing of the blood vessel, is the most common cause of ED

To understand why this happens, it is essential to understand that various factors influence your erection. For instance, increased blood flow to the penile blood vessels causes engorgement of the penis when sexually excited.

This means that anything that hampers blood flow to the penile artery may make it difficult to get an erection. As atherosclerosis narrows the blood vessels, they reduce blood flow. If this affects blood flow to the penis, it may result in ED.

High cholesterol level is one of the factors causing atherosclerosis. That is because high cholesterol levels result in a buildup of cholesterol in the arteries, which narrows your blood vessels.

Researchers also believe there is an association between ED and hyperlipidemia, but the reason is not fully understood. Many researchers also believe that cholesterol-lowering medicines may help to manage ED.

Statins and ED

Statins are a group of medicines that are used to treat high cholesterol levels. 

A study on rats suggested that atorvastatin, a type of statin, enhanced erectile function, but the cholesterol levels were not affected. Researchers thus believe that improved erectile function was due to the lining of the blood vessels getting healthier and not due to a decrease in cholesterol levels.

Many other studies have also shown that statins improve ED over time. 

However, a study suggested that statins aggravated ED. And in 50% of these cases, ED reversed after stopping statins. Besides, another study did not find any relation between ED and statins. ED is also not listed as the common side-effect of statins.

So, more research is needed in this area to give any conclusion.

Diet, Cholesterol, and ED

While foods rich in cholesterol may not cause hyperlipidemia, they may still influence ED. Studies have shown that consuming a healthy diet, especially the Mediterranean diet, improves ED symptoms.

Mediterranean diet includes eating:

  • Fruits such as grapes, apples, and strawberries
  • Fish and other seafood such as oysters and shrimp
  • Whole grains such as oats and barley
  • Vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, and onions
  • Nuts, such as walnuts and almonds
  • Healthy fats, such as extra-virgin oil and olives

You should also consider avoiding the following foods:

  • Foods with added sugar
  • Foods rich in trans fats such as frozen pizza, margarine, and fast food
  • Processed meats
  • Vegetable oils such as canola oil

Moreover, a long-standing vitamin B12 deficiency can also cause ED. Thus, it is recommended to add B12 rich foods such as meat, fish, eggs, and cheese to your diet.

Consulting Your Doctor

If you notice any erection problem, especially if you have high cholesterol levels, you should consult your doctor as soon as possible. ED can be an indicator of an underlying condition, and it is essential to treat it before it causes any complications.

You can look for ED symptoms such as 

  • Inability to get an erection while having sex
  • Inability to get an erection at all
  • Inability to maintain an erection firm enough for sex

High cholesterol does not have any noticeable symptoms, and the only way to confirm it is through blood tests. Your doctor may also advise routine physical tests to catch and manage health conditions in their early stages. 

The physician will also run a physical check and advise blood tests such as testosterone levels to diagnose ED.

Treatment

You should know that there are multiple treatment options to manage ED ranging from lifestyle changes to surgery.

Treatment options include:

  • Switching medicines if your doctor feels that medicine could be the cause for ED
  • Couples counseling or talk therapy
  • Penis pump
  • Vascular surgery
  • Testosterone replacement therapy

Oral Medicines

Prescription medicines for ED include:

  • Sildenafil
  • Vardenafil
  • Avanafil
  • Tadalafil

You should also avoid these medicines if you:

  • Take nitrate drugs
  • Have liver or kidney diseases
  • Have an eye disorder known as retinitis pigmentosa
  • Had a stroke or heart attack in the past six months

However, do not worry, even if pills are not an option for you. There are other treatment options, as well.

Lifestyle Changes

Some lifestyle changes that may help are:

  • Being active: According to Harvard Health Publishing, walking for 30 minutes a day is seen to lower the risk of ED by 41% 
  • Maintaining weight: Obesity increases the risk of ED. It is seen that 79% of the men who are overweight have ED. Maintaining a healthy weight helps prevent ED and manage dyslipidemia.
  • Quitting smoking: Smoking affects blood pressure and thus increases the risk of erectile dysfunction. 
  • Limiting alcohol intake: Men consuming more than two drinks per are at a higher risk of both ED and dyslipidemia. 
  • Kegel exercises: Pelvic floor exercises such as Kegel exercises aids in strengthening your pelvic muscles. This may help you maintain the erection for longer.

Final Thoughts

Erectile dysfunction is a widespread condition and may be an indicator of an underlying disease. While researchers have not confirmed high cholesterol as the direct cause for ED, various studies suggest a common link.

However, maintaining a healthy lifestyle lowers the risk of dyslipidemia as well as ED. If you have any concerns about erectile problems or cholesterol levels, it is best to consult your doctor. They will help with a treatment plan that suits you the best.

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