There are certain other medical conditions that could bring about the onset of erectile dysfunction. Understanding the underlying causes and getting the proper treatment for them early could make all the difference in a successful recovery. The more education you have in things like this, the better off you’re going to be.
One of those disorders that could be associated with erectile dysfunction is prostate cancer. The prostate is a small muscular gland near the bladder. It is a male reproductive organ whose main function is to secrete prostate fluid, one of the components of semen. The muscles of this gland also help propel this seminal fluid into the urethra during ejaculation.
Prostate cancer is rather common; for men it is the most common form of cancer that is not involved with the skin. The good news is that it is treatable, but the bad news is that the treatment itself could be something that eventually leads to erectile dysfunction. There is a close proximity between the prostate gland and the nerves that are involved with the process of achieving an erection.
If you have undergone hormonal therapy, that can have a debilitating effect on the normal erection process. The same can be said about radiation therapy or surgery. Prostate cancer treatments can effect the nearby tissues and nerves, and that is something that is going to put you in danger of developing erectile dysfunction.
“Screening for prostate cancer begins with a blood test called a prostate specific antigen (PSA) test. This test measures the level of PSA in the blood. PSA is a substance made by the prostate. The levels of PSA in the blood can be higher in men who have prostate cancer. The PSA level may also be elevated in other conditions that affect the prostate. Because many factors can affect PSA levels, your doctor is the best person to interpret your PSA test results.”*
A correlation has been found between erectile dysfunction and sleep apnea—also known as sleep disordered breathing (SDB).
A past article in Urology Today states:
“Since the majority of physicians who treat ED are unlikely to have expertise in SDB, and similarly those who treat SDB generally have little expertise in diagnosing or treating ED, it is the opinion of the authors that the potential impact each of these conditions may have on the other has been greatly underestimated. This review article attempts to alert physicians of the interaction between two apparently different disorders and give a more unified approach of ED and SDB.”
Vasculogenic, neurogenic, hormonal, and psychogenic pathways as well as the effects of drugs and others factors play important roles in the development of ED and recent studies suggest that ED as a result of sleep apnea might involve the nitric oxide synthase and phosphodiesterase- mediated pathways targeted by tadalafil and other similar products.
Going forward, it’s theorized that the treatment of SDB might also aid in the reversal of erectile dysfunction.
More recent studies conclude “a 95% confidence interval of 0.18–0.71, indicating that in patients without OSA (obstructive sleep apnea), the risk of ED is significantly lower compared with patients with OSA. The available evidence shows that OSA is associated with a higher risk of ED”.*
*Source: Association between obstructive sleep apnea and erectile dysfunction: a systematic review and meta-analysis, International Journal of Impotence Research volume 30, pages 129–140 (2018).
High cholesterol levels are harmful to health. Cholesterol is a fatty, wax-like substance naturally found in all of our bodies. It aids in digestion as well as vitamin D and hormone production. When cholesterol levels rise, there is greater chances of having heart disease and heart attack. There are two basic types of cholesterol in the body, namely the low density lipoprotein (bad cholesterol) and high density lipoprotein (good cholesterol). As bad cholesterol accumulates in the arteries, it creates a hard plaque that builds up on the arterial walls. This condition is known as atherosclerosis. Men with atherosclerosis are more likely to experience erectile dysfunction and impotence.
To ensure normal cholesterol levels, the National Cholesterol Education Program recommends regular checkup every 5 years for adults over 20 years old. This is important given the lack of outward symptoms. People with high low density lipoprotein (bad cholesterol) often have no idea of having serious health issue until it’s too late. In men, one of the early signs of high cholesterol level is erectile dysfunction. Fear among men with erection problems will lead to failure in seeking medical advice. As a result, serious problems may arise and even get worse.
During most cholesterol checks, physician will provide tests for your total cholesterol including low density lipoprotein cholesterol, high density lipoprotein cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
What do these types of cholesterol represent and what do the levels mean?
Total cholesterol – This is the total cholesterol level in the bloodstream. Cholesterol level is measured in milliliters (mg) per deciliter (dl) of blood. Less than 200 mg/dl is desirable; 200-239 mg/dl is borderline high and 240 mg/dl and over is considered high. According to a study performed by the University of South Carolina, men with a total cholesterol level of 240 mg/dl and above have double chances of having erectile dysfunction.
Low Density Lipoprotein – Low density lipoprotein (LDL) is also called as bad cholesterol. It builds up in the arteries and forms plaque, as a result hardens arteries. The clot formation in the artery can lead to cardiac arrest or even stroke. Less than 100 mg/dl is ideal, 100-129 mg/dl is near ideal, 130-159 mg/dl is borderline high, and 160-189 mg/dl is high and 189 mg/dl and over is very high.
High Density Lipoprotein – High density lipoprotein (HDL) is also called good cholesterol. High levels of good cholesterol reduces the likelihood of heart attack however low levels may increase the chances of heart disease. HDL works to clear the arteries with cholesterol and carry it back to the liver. A level of 60 mg/dl is good and less than 40 mg/dl is at risk of heart attack.
Triglycerides – Triglyceride is a form of fat in the body. Elevated triglycerides are common in obese people, physically inactive, excessive smoking and drinking alcohol and a diet high in carbohydrates. People with high triglycerides often have a high total cholesterol level, including high bad cholesterol (LDL) and low good cholesterol (HDL) levels. Men with high cholesterol levels more likely to experience erectile dysfunction and impotence even in the future. Therefore, it is necessary to consult a physician to discuss and formulate medical plan in lowering cholesterol levels and regain sexual health.
Foods high in good cholesterol (HDL) include: olive oil, whole grains, high fiber fruit, fatty fish, flax, nuts, chia seeds, avocado, and soy.
Foods high in bad cholesterol (LDL) include: processed vegetable oils, potato chips and other packaged food, cookies and other sugary treats, bacon and other processed meats, alcohol, milk and diary products, and refined grain products.
A study conducted by Prince Henry’s Institute in Melbourne Australia published in the Medical Journal of Australia found that men over 20 years of age with erectile dysfunction (ED) have twice the risk of cardiovascular incidents than those of men with normal sexual health. It was also found out that 2% of men aged 55 and older experienced major stroke and cardiac arrest after the initial episode of ED, within a year; 11% experienced something within five years. Experts from Prince Henry’s Institute warned men with these failures to seek advice on erectile dysfunction and high blood pressure. This may indicate a missing vital warning sign of impending heart disease. Why is this happening? Do men with ED predispose themselves to have cardiovascular diseases and strokes or just the other way around?
Another study states “Erectile dysfunction may appear before the detection of traditional cardiovascular risk factors and may be the earliest clinical sign of subclinical cardiovascular disease.” *
Erectile dysfunction can be a symptom of heart disease. An erection is caused by engorgement of blood into the penile tissues which later becomes rigid for penetration. Men with heart problem suffer from an inadequate blood flow to the smooth tissues of the penis to achieve erection. A major cardiovascular disease known as Atherosclerosis is a result of fat accumulation in the arterial blood vessels. This build up of multiple plaques or fatty material causes the arteries to narrow and harden thus limiting blood flow. The arteries supplying your penis are smaller than those supplying your heart. In fact, ED can be an initial symptom of heart diseases like Atherosclerosis. Cardiovascular problems can also damage penile nerves and arteries, inhibiting erectile function. Experts found a consistent link between ED and heart disease. Other recent research conducted by health professionals has shown a direct connection between erection dysfunctions and heart problems.
Most of the time, ED is the first symptom of poor cardiovascular health. Hypertension oftentimes doesn’t manifest outward symptoms of heart disease. Some men go undiagnosed with high blood pressure for a long time. It can be troublesome for many men who feel uncomfortable discussing ED with their health providers. Many fail to seek medical advice and suffer from progressive worsening of their cardiovascular problems before deciding to undergo treatment.
Erectile dysfunction and heart disease are very serious medical conditions that requires prompt treatment. In addition to being a symptom of heart disease; ED is linked to many other physical and psychological problems. Men with ED can be withdrawn from their partner and even avoid romantic relationships. It may be difficult for men with erectile dysfunction to reproduce and can lead to low self-esteem, depression and poor work performance. Frequent medical check ups for patients with erectile dysfunction and high blood pressure is recommended.
* Source: Asian Journal of Andrology, 2017.