Link Between High Cholesterol and Erectile Dysfunction (ED)

Link Between High Cholesterol and Erectile Dysfunction (ED)
Published : Feb 04, 2024
Last Updated : Feb 07, 2024

ED, or Erectile dysfunction, is a common condition that may affect adult males at any age. It is a sexual inability in which a man struggles to get or keep an erection during sex. It's estimated that about 30 million men in the united states face ED. 

For most men, being unable to get an erection happens occasionally, But in ED, it starts to appear every taking to have sex. The are several different factors that may lead to ED, including poor heart health. And one of the common risks of heart health seen in people nowadays is High cholesterol levels. 

But can treating high cholesterol may also help treat ED? According to the research, the answer is yes; it may have a slight effect. Learn more about the Link Between High Cholesterol and Erectile Dysfunction (ED).

What research says about the link between High Cholesterol and ED

Narrowing of the blood vessels, Atherosclerosis is also among the most common cause of ED. Many things may lead to a condition like Atherosclerosis, one among that is high cholesterol. High cholesterol levels build up in the arteries and may narrow the blood vessels. When there is poor blood flow to the penis, a person may face a lack of erection. 

Researchers have found a link between Ed and high cholesterol may know as (Hypercholesterolemia). But the connection is not clearly understood yet, but it has made research to explore whether Cholesterol-lowering drugs may help treat ED. 

Statins and Erectile Dysfunction (ED)

Statins are prescription medications used to lower high cholesterol levels. A study in 2017 conducted on rats noted improved erectile function by following the treatment of high cholesterol. But lipid levels remained unchanged, and researchers used atorvastatin (Lipitor) for the treatment. 

The researchers found better erectile function in rats was not due to lower cholesterol levels. Instead, it was due to improved endothelium (an interior surface in the blood vessels). 

An earlier literature review from 2014 found evidence that statins may improve symptoms of Ed over time. 

But, a study in 2009 suggested that lip-lowing medication may cause aggravated ED. It is because men recovered from Ed when they stopped taking Statins in more than half of cases. 

And in 2015, cohort analysis didn't find any link between statins and an increased risk for Ed. Also, Ed is not listed as a common side effect that Statins may include. But, it needs more researchers to understand the connection between statins and Ed better. 

Diet, cholesterol, and Erectile Dysfunction

Intake of food that are high in cholesterol won't necessarily affect your blood cholesterol levels. You can still have control over the risk for Ed as studies suggest eating a healthy diet may help. In particular Mediterranean diet can help improve symptoms of Ed. 

The Mediterranean diet includes:

  • Seafood such as shrimp and oysters, and fish
  • Vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, onion, and tomatoes
  • Fruits like apples, strawberries, avocados and grapes
  • Healthy fats, including extra virgin olive oil and olive oil
  • Whole grains- oats and barley
  • Nuts such as walnuts and almonds

Some of the items you should avoid to control bad cholesterol include-

  • Foods made with added sugar
  • Processed meat and other processed food items
  • Certain vegetable oils, such as canola oil
  • Food high in trans fats, fast food, frozen pizza

A chronic vitamin B-12 deficiency may also contribute to the risk for Ed. Add foods rich in B-12 to your diet to prevent the risk factor; you may also consider taking a B-12 supplement. 

Other risk factors for Erectile Dysfunction(ED)-

Some other risk factor for Erectile dysfunction commonly seen among men includes-

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Multiple sclerosis(MS)
  • Plaque buildup in the penis
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Physical injury to the penis, bladder, spinal cord, prostate, or pelvis
  • Bladder cancer or surgeries related to it
  • Injury caused due to treatment for prostate cancer
  • Drinking alcohol, smoking, or using certain medications
  • Depression, Anxiety
  • Mental or emotional stress

Certain medications that may lead to the risk of causing erection problems in men include-

  • Antidepressants
  • Prostate cancer therapy
  • Prescription based sedatives
  • Blood pressure medications
  • Ulcer drugs
  • Appetite suppressants

When to see a doctor

Having a problem getting an erection rarely is common, but if you suspect it every time you have, you should visit a doctor soon. Ed can be a sign of an underlying health issue, and sometimes treating that underlying problem may help Ed. So it is essential to find what is causing Ed in you and tackle it before it becomes more serious. Visit a doctor if you suspect these symptoms of Ed-

  • Difficulty in getting an erection when you want to have sex 
  • Being not able to maintain an erection long enough to have sexual intercourse
  • Inability to get an erection at all

People with high cholesterol don't show symptoms. The only way to diagnose the condition is with the help of a blood test. Have a routine checkup so your doctor can diagnose and treat any disease at its earliest stages. 

For Ed, there can be specific laboratory tests, including testing of testosterone levels. A psychological exam can also be conducted to diagnose your Ed.

Treatment options For Erectile Dysfunction(ED)

Different treatment options may help manage symptoms of ED. From everyday lifestyle changes to daily medication can help in restoring your erection. Treatment option available for Ed includes-

  • Switching medications if a drug is causing ED
  • Testosterone replacement therapy
  • Using a penis pump
  • Talk therapy or couples counseling

Manage symptoms of Ed with medications such as.

Oral Ed medications

Sildenafil Pills, Cialis(Tadalafil), Levitra(Vardenafil), and Strendra (Avanafil) are popular Ed drugs. After an intake, these drugs may help you get an erection by improving blood flow to the penis. These drugs belong to a class of medications known as PDE5 inhibitors. 

The injectable form of Alprostadil (Edex, Caverject) and its suppository form available as a pill(MUSE)

In addition to diet, some lifestyle changes may help reduce high cholesterol levels and also help improve symptoms of Ed. You may adopt these healthy lifestyle changes.

Stay physically fit

Obesity can be a risk factor for Erectile dysfunction or impotence. A 2014 study found that 79% of men who were overweight or obese were struggling with erection problems. 

Being physically active and maintaining a healthy weight may help prevent the risk of ED. Also, quit the habit of smoking and consumption of alcohol.

Walking more

According to a study published by Harvard Health, Walking 30 minutes per day can reduce the risk of Ed by up to 41%. So walking every day may help you stay fit and reduce the risk of Ed. 

Exercising your pelvic floor

Practice Kegel exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor, as it may help in maintaining erections longer. 

Getting better sleep 

A good amount and quality of sleep play an essential role in your sexual health too. It is a time your body needs to recuperate, so take restful sleep for at least 8 hours every night. 

Final lines

According to researchers, High cholesterol can lead to erection problems, but there is no direct link to ED. Taking care of your health can lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of developing ED. Work on your health with your doctor if you suspect a problem with your erection.