One of the first things a doctor will think about when an adult man complains about erection problems: does this patient have a problem with his blood vessels?
Often the first sign of cardiovascular problems in a man is a problem with his erections, because a good erection depends on a good blood flow to the penis, and if the blood flow is inhibited, the erection will not be as strong.
Thinking of that, a presentation March 29 at the annual meeting of the American College of Cardiology in Washington, D.C. (and published online in the Journal of Sexual Medicine), makes a lot of sense. The study showed that men with high cholesterol had better erections if they were taking medication to lower their cholesterol levels.
This “meta-analysis” (which summed up 11 previous research studies on the subject), looked at how men rated their erections on the International Inventory of Erectile Function. This questionnaire has five questions men answer about their erections, each one on a scale from 1 to 5.
The maximum score on this scale is 25, and on average, the men with high cholesterol who were taking a class of drug called statins—the most commonly prescribed medication for high cholesterol—increased their erection score from 14.0 to 17.4, after being on statins for about 4 months.
This represents a 24% increase in their self-assessed erection performance, which is significant, though the effect of specific prescription erection medications such as Viagra gives a beneficial effect two or three times greater.
Note that this effect was only noted in men with diagnosed high cholesterol, who received the medication on prescription from their doctors. Men with normal cholesterol should not take statins, and if you want to consider this treatment, you need to talk to your doctor first.
Any medication can have side effects, and interestingly, there have been reports in the past that statins might have the opposite effect; that is, that statins might diminish erection performance in some men, as some men may have a drop in testosterone levels on statin therapy.
The authors of the current study however believe the benefits in lowered cholesterol are greater than the possible negative effects from a lowered testosterone levels. Probably the effects vary from individual to individual; so talking to a knowledgeable doctor is the best approach.
Many other health issues can contribute to erection dysfunction—diabetes, high blood pressure, smoking, obesity, stress, depression, low testosterone, and depression, among others.
It is important to remember that there are other ways that many men can lower their cholesterol levels without medication— by improving their diets, exercising more, staying away from cigarette smoke, and losing weight.
Most likely, men who lower their cholesterol levels by these more natural approaches will show a similar or perhaps even greater improvement in their erections, because, unlike medications, the natural approaches will also improve a man’s mood, which has a huge influence on erection performance.
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