Possibly, the two greatest joys in life are food and sex. Do you agree with me? Certainly yes! You can enjoy both separately or together, by yourself or with a partner (or group) and in general, each tends to complement the other rather well. That is, until one day they don’t. Put simply, it comes down to that dreaded C-word.
Cholesterol: adversary to your arteries, the harbinger of heart-attacks, and you may be surprised to learn, an eradicator of erections. Before we get to that, though, let’s start with what this accursed stuff actually is.
According to the Boston Medical Group, Cholesterol is “a waxy, fat-like substance” that travels around the body in blood particles called lipoproteins. There are two versions of cholesterol, the ‘good’ kind and the ‘bad’.
The first one, known as HDL, travels in the blood directly to the liver where it is broken down and used by the body. The bad one, LDL, travels through our arteries leaving a trail of plaque that damage, and ultimately blocks blood flow. This condition is called atherosclerosis, and is a precursor to heart attacks, strokes and, yep, and of course erectile dysfunction.
So, what exactly does that imply for your sex life?
During the act of “sexual stimulation,” Boston Medical Group explains, “the body releases chemicals that cause the penile arteries (corpora cavernosa) to relax.” Basically, in the heat of the moment, your arteries relax allowing for better blood flow and, of course, the more visible physical attributes associated with having an erection.
This reduces blood flow caused by the high presence of LDL cholesterol is directly linked to sexual disorders such as erectile dysfunction.
Dr. Michael Krychman, the executive director of the Southern California Center for Sexual Health and Survivorship, told Fox News that “as soon as a man presents with erectile dysfunction, we begin measuring cholesterol and blood pressure.”
Krychman added that, the same mechanisms through which men may suffer from sexual disorders caused by high cholesterol hold similar effects for women.
“In the past we used to think if a woman is having sexual problems, she’s frigid, and she needs to go home and have a glass of wine and relax,” Krychman said. “However, there is emerging data associating underlying medical causes with female sexual dysfunction.” In the case of women, Krychman explained, the fatty deposits caused by high cholesterol affect lubrication and libido.
Beyond blockages, LDL cholesterol also inhibits the production of nitric oxide, the artery-relaxing hormone required to produce an erection. LDL does this by reducing the artery’s response to the hormone, which in turn decreases blood flow. And that’s not the only hormone affected by high cholesterol. Production of testosterone — which helps stimulate sexual drive in men — is also limited by high cholesterol-caused lowered blood flow to the testicles, where the hormone is produced.
Now that we have covered the problem, if you believe your high cholesterol is affecting your sex life, then it’s wise to consult a physician.
Basically, there are generally three ways to go about combating high cholesterol: diet, exercise, and medication.
In terms of diet, most physicians will generally suggest cutting out saturated fats.
In terms of weight, improving your eating habits will also help you drop a small amount of weight to improve your sex life,” said Collins, adding the important reminder: “talk to your doctor if you’re experiencing erectile dysfunction.”
In the end, like most issues pertaining to your health, the best solution requires a holistic approach. If you find yourself with high cholesterol and erectile dysfunction, it’s time to change your ways.
Remember, step one: consult your physician. From there, with the right combination of diet, exercise and medication you could keep enjoying those great fruits of life, long into your years.