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Can Being Overweight Cause Erectile Dysfunction?

author image Julia Michelle
Julia Michelle has been writing professionally since January 2009. Her specialties include massage therapy, computer tech support, land and aquatic personal training, aquatic group fitness and Reiki. She has an Associate in Applied Science from Cincinnati State Technical and Community College in integrative medical massage therapy.
Can Being Overweight Cause Erectile Dysfunction?
Can Being Overweight Cause Erectile Dysfunction? Photo Credit obese man thoughtful image by MarFot from <a href="http://www.fotolia.com">Fotolia.com</a>

About Erectile Dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction occurs when a man is unable to maintain or achieve an erection sufficient for sexual intercourse. Erectile dysfunction has several causes, most of which are diseases that directly affect vascular function, such as hypertension, heart disease and diabetes. According to the Mayo Clinic, obese men are more likely to have these diseases and experience erectile dysfunction. Being slightly overweight, carrying around just a few extra pounds, will most likely not cause erectile dysfunction, but being overweight can pave the way to obesity. Obesity--excess body fat and a BMI over 30--can cause significant health problems and directly contributes to erectile dysfunction.

How Obesity Affects the Body

From a metabolic standpoint, obesity contributes to diabetes by affecting the way the body processes sugar. Additionally, obese people tend to have high cholesterol and are more suceptible to hypertension and heart disease. From a quality-of-life standpoint, obesity contributes to sleep disturbances, snoring and, in severe cases, sleep apnea, all of which can lead to daytime fatigue and depression. Obese people may also experience excessive sweating, overheating and frequent rashes in the folds of the skin. Excess weight also puts strain on the joints and may lead to knee, ankle and back pain. Obesity also increases the risk of some cancers, gall bladder disease and stroke.

How Obesity Affects Erectile Dysfunction

Obesity can directly affect erectile dysfunction by lowering testosterone levels. Testosterone is the primary sex hormone in men, and it plays an important role in both libido and sexual function. Indirectly, obesity contributes to other diseases, such as hypertension, that are known factors in erectile dysfunction. The penis needs a sufficient supply of blood in order to become erect. Once engorged, the vessels need to close in order to maintain the erection. Hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol and heart disease all contribute to erectile dysfunction by adversely damaging and constricting blood vessels and affecting the way blood flows in and out of the penis. It is possible to reverse the effects of obesity and obesity-related diseases with diet, exercise and, in some cases, drug intervention. Obese men with health issues should consult with their physicians before attempting any diet, exercise or weight-loss program.

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