It’s all about blood flow. To get and keep an erection, blood needs to have no problem getting to your penis. If you have ED, it can mean that one or more of your blood vessels have narrowed or are blocked.
Plaque in your arteries can make that happen. Doctors call it “atherosclerosis,” which means the hardening of the arteries due to plaque buildup.
When your heart pumps, blood goes through arteries to get to different parts of your body. To get to the penis, blood first goes through arteries in the belly and then branch off. When it's time for an erection, these arteries widen, or dilate. More blood flows into the penis, making it swell.
Erectile dysfunction can mean that at least some of the blood vessels on that path aren't in perfect health. Even if you don’t have a blocked artery yet, the lining of your blood vessels might not work as well as it should.
Atherosclerosis isn’t the only reason that ED can happen. See your doctor to find out what the cause is in your case.
6 Things That Make Atherosclerosis More Likely
Most men with ED have risks that make them more likely to get atherosclerosis, such as:
- Atherosclerosis in family members
- High cholesterol levels
- High blood pressure