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5 surprising causes of erectile dysfunction

23 Nov 2022 • 1 min read

Here are 5 surprising causes of erectile dysfunction:

1. Smoking

In case you needed another reason to stay away from cigarettes, they are a major cause of impotence in men of all ages. The chemicals in cigarette smoke can deplete levels of nitric oxide in the body. This causes narrowing of the blood vessels and reduced blood supply to the penis, making it more difficult to achieve and maintain an erection.1 Handpicked content: Here’s how you can quit smoking and start to feel the benefits

2. Obesity

Obesity causes cholesterol deposits on the walls of your blood vessels which can restrict blood flow all around the body, including to the penis. Also, obese males have lower levels of testosterone,2 which leads to reduced sexual desire and satisfaction. Having a BMI of 25-30 is associated with a 1.5 times greater risk of having sexual problems, and a BMI in excess of 30 makes you three times more likely to experience erectile dysfunction.3 To find out what your BMI is, use the following calculation: (Weight (kg)/Height2

3. Medication

There are certain medications which can cause erectile dysfunction. Types of medication which can affect your erections include antidepressants, diuretics, antihistamines, anti-ulcer drugs and blood pressure medication.4

4. High cholesterol

Having high cholesterol can clog your arteries leading to a condition called atherosclerosis. This makes it more difficult for blood to flow freely through your blood vessels as they become hardened by the build-up of bad cholesterol. You can have high cholesterol even if you’re not overweight, and too much saturated fat in the diet is often to blame.

5. Sleep disorders

Scientists have discovered a link between sleep apnoea (a condition where your breathing is disrupted during sleep) and erectile dysfunction.5 A study from 2011 based on 870 men found a direct correlation between erectile dysfunction and sleep apnoea, with the patients with erectile dysfunction being twice as likely to have sleep apnoea. Sleep apnoea is often associated with being overweight, so weight loss will help both of these conditions.

6. Stress

Stress has a powerful effect on the body and can be a common cause of erectile dysfunction. When you’re stressed, your body releases stress hormones to mobilise energy for your vital functions which are used in the ‘fight-or-flight’ response, such as your major muscle groups. These stress hormones can interfere with the bodily functions that it doesn’t deem as ‘essential’ for that moment- including digestion and unfortunately, erections.6 Handpicked content: About stress and how you can manage yours
Advice is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please check with your GP before trying any remedies
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  1. [Online] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4485976/.
  2. [Online] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24344763.
  3. [Online] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24720114.
  4. [Online] https://webmedpharmacy.co.uk/blog/2016/09/what-causes-erectile-dysfunction-what-can-i-do-about-it.
  5. [Online] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16422852.
  6. [Online] https://truelibido.com/stress.
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