What can cause erectile dysfunction, and how can you prevent it?
Erectile dysfunction means that you have a persistent difficulty in getting and maintaining an erection. Sometimes there is also a lesser desire for sex. It may seem like only a superficial inconvenience, but the consequences of such an erectile dysfunction go much further. In recent years, research has shown that decreased libido and erectile dysfunction say much more about overall health in men.
An erection is caused by the dilation of blood vessels in the penis. A strong heart and good arteries are therefore essential for men's sexual performance. However, erectile dysfunction is not only caused by cardiovascular disease. Erectile dysfunction can also be caused by chronic inflammation, hormonal imbalance or mineral deficiencies.
Chances are, if you are suffering from erectile dysfunction, something is wrong inside. Therefore, measuring biomarkers associated with erectile dysfunction can help stop symptoms before they grow into a dangerous health risk.
The biomarkers you should be measuring are:
As blood cholesterol levels rise, cholesterol is continuously deposited on the vessel walls, creating a plaque that slows or stops blood flow altogether. When this happens in the penis, erectile strength and erection duration are reduced.
It is not at all necessary that you are overweight if your cholesterol is too high. A cholesterol that is too high is usually hereditary, so measure your cholesterol regularly.
HDL is commonly known as "the good cholesterol" because it acts like a street sweeper, picking up bits of deposited cholesterol from arteries and returning it to the liver for recycling. High HDL therefore helps reverse the process described above; indeed, researchers agree that high HDL reduces your risk of erectile dysfunction.
If you thought erectile dysfunction was somehow related to an imbalance in testosterone then you're right: research has shown that men with low levels of circulating free Testosterone are more likely to have erectile dysfunction than those with normal levels. In general, testosterone is important for proper muscle function in the penis (no, your penis is not a muscle by itself), so even if you don't have erectile dysfunction, a lack of free testosterone can reduce your ability to get and maintain erections. If you think you may be at risk for erectile dysfunction, keep an eye on your free testosterone levels and eat a variety of foods rich in magnesium to safely raise your testosterone levels.
Hs-CRP (high sensitive C-reactive protein) is released by the liver during inflammation in the body. This can be caused by a wide range of problems. Since inflammation can adversely affect blood flow to parts of the body, it makes sense that multiple studies have shown that high CRP levels are linked to an increased risk of erectile dysfunction. So, if your hs-CRP level is elevated it may play a role in the development of erectile dysfunction.
New research shows that erectile dysfunction is most common in men with low magnesium levels. Although the research specifically focused on older men with chronic kidney disease, the implications go much further: magnesium plays a vital role in inflammation, blood vessel wall cells, and testosterone production. Of course, the evidence is still fresh, but optimizing your magnesium levels can't hurt.
Stay ahead of the game
If you are still experiencing problems with your male performance despite relatively normal blood levels, focus your attention on your lifestyle. Are you highly stressed? Do you smoke or use alcohol or recreational drugs excessively? These habits can also cause erectile dysfunction.
But remember - your blood doesn't lie. Prevent erectile dysfunction by keeping an eye on your blood levels, rather than reacting only when your blood levels are no longer optimal. For example, taking statins to lower cholesterol can lead to low testosterone levels. Keep an eye on your blood levels and adjust your diet and lifestyle. Get to the root of your problem and prevent erectile dysfunction from disrupting your life and health.