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Let's Talk Sex | Erectile Issues? Your Heart May Be Trying to Tell You Something – News18

Studies show men with erectile dysfunction are twice as likely to develop heart disease. (Image for representation: News18)

Studies show men with erectile dysfunction are twice as likely to develop heart disease. (Image for representation: News18)

Most guys experience trouble getting or maintaining an erection at some point. But if it’s an ongoing issue, it could be a sign of cardiovascular disease

Lets Talk Sex

Sex may permeate our popular culture, but conversations about it are still associated with stigma and shame in Indian households. As a result, most individuals dealing with sexual health issues or trying to find information about sex often resort to unverified online sources or follow the unscientific advice of their friends. To address the widespread misinformation about sex, is running this weekly sex column, titled ‘Let’s Talk Sex’. We hope to initiate conversations about sex through this column and address sexual health issues with scientific insight and nuance.

In this article, we will explain how your heart may be trying to warn you through erectile issues.

You’ve noticed some issues in the bedroom lately. It’s got you worried and maybe a little embarrassed. It might be your heart’s way of sending you an important message. Yep, you read that right – your heart could be trying to warn you about potential cardiovascular troubles. So, try not to get too anxious or beat yourself up about what’s going on under the sheets. Instead, see it as a sign to take better care of your ticker.

Erectile Dysfunction as a Warning Sign of Heart Disease

Most guys experience trouble getting or maintaining an erection at some point. But if it’s an ongoing issue, it could be a sign of cardiovascular disease. Studies show men with erectile dysfunction are twice as likely to develop heart disease.

  • Blood Flow Issues: To get an erection, blood has to flow freely into the penis. The same healthy blood flow is needed to pump blood to your heart and other organs. If arteries are clogged or narrowed by plaque, blood can’t flow properly. High blood pressure also makes the heart work harder to pump blood. Both increase the risk of ED and heart disease.
  • Hormonal Imbalance: Low testosterone, the male sex hormone, can contribute to ED and reduced libido. It may also lead to weight gain, high blood pressure and higher cholesterol levels – all risks for heart disease. Diabetes or prediabetes can also cause hormonal imbalances and damage nerves and blood vessels.
  • Lifestyle Factors: Many of the same unhealthy lifestyle habits that lead to heart disease can also contribute to ED, including:

  1. Smoking damages blood vessels and arteries.
  2. Excess weight, or obesity, puts strain on the heart and blood vessels.
  3. Excessive alcohol use can damage the nervous system and blood vessels.
  4. Stress and anxiety impact hormone levels and blood pressure. Managing stress is important for heart and sexual health.

Red Flags Not to Ignore

Experiencing erectile dysfunction can be worrisome enough on its own, but certain symptoms mean you need to call your doctor right away. If you notice any of the following red flags, don’t delay in seeking medical advice.

  • Painful erections: Having painful erections, especially ones that last for hours, requires immediate medical attention. This could signal a condition called priapism that needs treatment within 4-6 hours to prevent permanent damage.
  • Chest pain: Feeling discomfort, pressure, or pain in your chest during sexual activity is not normal and should be evaluated by a doctor. It could indicate a heart condition that may lead to a heart attack if left untreated.
  • Loss of consciousness: Briefly losing consciousness during or right after sex, even for just a few seconds, is a medical emergency. This could indicate a drop in blood pressure or heart rhythm problem and requires prompt diagnosis and treatment.
  • Failure to ejaculate: Being unable to ejaculate or experiencing a decrease in ejaculate volume could point to a blockage of the vas deferens or ejaculatory ducts, which carry sperm from the testes. See your doctor for an exam and possible tests like a transrectal ultrasound.
  • Loss of libido: A loss of interest in sex or inability to get an erection can sometimes be a sign of an underlying health issue like low testosterone, depression, or relationship problems. Talk to your doctor about any loss of libido, especially if it’s a new symptom, so the cause can be properly diagnosed and treated.

Lifestyle Changes to Improve ED Symptoms and Heart Health

Making certain lifestyle changes can help alleviate ED symptoms and improve your heart health, killing two birds with one stone.

  • Exercise Regularly: Engaging in regular exercise is one of the best things you can do for both your ticker and your libido. Aim for 30-60 minutes of moderate exercise most days of the week. Walking, jogging, biking and strength training are all great options. Exercise reduces your risk of heart disease, improves circulation to all parts of your body, and boosts your stamina and vitality.
  • Eat a Healthy Diet: Focus on a diet low in saturated fat, salt and added sugar, but high in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein. A balanced diet will give you energy, help you maintain a healthy weight, and promote blood flow throughout your body. All of these benefit your libido and sexual function. Some foods particularly good for your heart and circulation include:
  1. Fatty fish like salmon, tuna and mackerel which contain omega-3 fatty acids
  2. Flax and chia seeds, also high in omega-3s
  3. Leafy green vegetables like spinach and kale
  4. Avocados which contain healthy monounsaturated fats
  5. Berries which are packed with antioxidants

  • Reduce Stress: Chronic stress can negatively impact your heart health and contribute to ED. Try relaxation techniques like yoga, meditation, deep breathing, and massage therapy. Spending time with loved ones, limiting screen time in the evening, and making sure to schedule in downtime can also help lower your stress levels. Stress reduction enhances intimacy with your partner and allows you to be fully present during sexual activity.

Making healthy changes to your lifestyle can have profound effects on your heart, your circulation, and your sex life. Be patient and consistent, as it may take several months of improved diet, exercise, and stress reduction before you notice significant benefits to your erectile and cardiovascular health. But the rewards will be well worth it. Taking care of your heart now will help ensure you stay active and vital for years to come – in and out of the bedroom. This is your body sending up an alert, so listen to it. Get checked, follow your doctor’s advice, and take care of yourself. Your future self will thank you.

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