For Many Men, Impotence Is Treatable Without Drugs
And there's a bonus: heart-healthy changes will boost overall well-being, too, experts say
By Barbara Bronson Gray
TUESDAY, April 22, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- A new study reminds men with erectile dysfunction that there's help out there that doesn't require a prescription: diet, exercise and other lifestyle changes.
Losing weight, eating better, getting more active, drinking less alcohol and getting better sleep can all help reverse problems that contribute to impotence, according to a new study published recently in the Journal of Sexual Medicine.
Erectile dysfunction and low sexual desire are often linked to the development of heart disease. The researchers discovered that a large proportion of men were able to naturally overcome erectile dysfunction with heart-healthy changes -- no pharmaceutical help necessary.
What's more, focusing on lifestyle change helps ensure an overall healthier and longer life, the researchers added.
While one of the biggest factors contributing to impotence is advancing age, other factors seem to play an even greater role in the development of the problem, explained study lead author Dr. Gary Wittert. Besides, because a significant number of men maintain erectile function into advanced age, it's unlikely that getting older, in and of itself, is the cause of sexual dysfunction, he said.
Instead, impotence seems to be typically related to an unhealthy lifestyle.
"It is always worth reducing obesity, improving nutrition and getting more exercise -- firstly, because health and well-being improve and overall cardiovascular risk and risk of diabetes will be reduced," said Wittert, a professor and director of Freemasons Foundation Centre for Men's Health at the University of Adelaide, in Australia.
What's the connection between impotence and heart health? "An erection is a hydraulic event dependent on the dilation of blood vessels that carry blood to the penis," explained Wittert. "These blood vessels are similar to those that supply blood to the heart muscle."
Although other issues such as nerve damage and hormone abnormalities can also lead to erectile dysfunction, the failure of the blood vessels to dilate properly is one of the more common causes, Wittert said. "This is an early abnormality in the pathway to more serious heart disease."