With the incidence of Erectile Dysfunction(ED) increasing among men as they become older, many people mistakenly assume that the condition is a normal part of the aging process.
Statistics also seem to support that connection. According to the Archives of Internal Medicine, about four percent of men in their 50s are diagnosed with erectile dysfunction, which is defined as the inability to sustain a firm erection during sexual intercourse. The incidence rate climbs to 17 percent for men in their 60s and 47 percent for those 75 and older.
However, health experts for the NIH say ED â€” which affects as many as 30 million American men â€” is not an inevitable consequence of aging.
There are several types of erectile dysfunction. Those associated with an injury or disease, such as Peyronie’s disease, or the side effects of medication, should be treated by a doctor. In these specific cases, lifestyle changes are not a factor. This is why it’s important to see a physician for diagnosis if signs of ED are present.
But sometimes, there are lifestyle changes men can make to reduce their risk of other types of erectile dysfunction, according to the NIH. The health agency also indicates that the condition is treatable at any age. Lifestyle factors that reduce the risk for ED generally are the same as those for reducing the risk for chronic diseases. Out of all the chronic diseases, diabetes has the most significant link to erectile dysfunction. Almost one out of every two men with diabetes will experience erectile dysfunction and, particularly, impotency.
Other conditions that may cause ED include cardiovascular disease, atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), high blood pressure, and kidney disease. These illnesses can damage smooth muscles, arteries, nerves and fibrous tissues, which contributes to erectile dysfunction. If there are indications such conditions exist, consult a doctor before beginning treatment for ED.
Here are 5 lifestyle changes that could reduce a personâ€™s risk for developing chronic diseases and, as a result, erectile dysfunction:
1.Â Stop Smoking
According to the American Cancer Society, some studies have found that male smokers may be more likely to experience erectile dysfunction than nonsmokers. Smoking also is considered an indirect factor for ED because it contributes to atherosclerosis, which is caused by a build-up of plaque in the arteries.Â This condition causes the heart to work harder to pump blood through the body.
Â 2. Limit Alcohol Intake
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, binge drinking and excessive drinking is linked to various health problems, including stroke, high blood pressure and other cardiovascular diseases â€” all of which are associated with ED. The CDC also links excessive drinking directly to sexual dysfunction. Â In healthy men, moderate amounts of drinking should not cause erectile dysfunction.
Â 3.Â Donâ€™t Use/Abuse Drugs
Like excessive drinking, drug abuse can contribute to ED, according to the NIH. Some prescription drugs, like high blood pressure medication or antidepressants, also have been linked to ED. It is important to talk to a physician before discontinuing the use of a prescribed medication.
4.Â Maintain a Healthy Weight/Exercise
Obesity is another factor that contributes to erectile dysfunction because it lowers testosterone levels, the Livestrong Foundation reports. The primary sex hormone among men, testosterone plays an important part in libido and sexual function. Obesity also contributes to diseases like hypertension and diabetes, both contributing factors to ED. Hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol and heart disease all contribute to erectile dysfunction by affecting how blood flows in and out of the penis. By tackling weight issues with diet and exercise, a person can reduce his risk for obesity-related diseases as well as ED.
5.Â Address Psychological Issues
In some cases, erectile dysfunction is related to emotional issues of a personal or interpersonal nature, the NIH reports. These psychological problems could stem from marital and relationship issues to depression or prior negative sexual experiences.
The good news here is that all these causes of erectile dysfunction are treatable. In fact, whether ED is caused from physical conditions or lifestyle choices, treatments are available and generally quite effective. As always, consult a physician before beginning any ED treatment.
Thomas Stone is a writer, blogger, and health advocate. She often blogs about love, health and relationships on behalf of menshealthpd.com