Can Exercise Cause Erectile Dysfunction?

About Erectile Dysfunction

The term erectile dysfunction refers to a recurring and persistent condition where a man is unable to achieve or maintain an erection and complete sexual intercourse. In most cases, erectile dysfunction is a sign of a deeper, underlying problem and many doctors consider it one of the earliest signs of heart disease. There are several other causes for erectile dysfunction, including hypertension, diabetes and obesity. Drugs like Viagra and Cialis can correct some of the mechanical reasons for erectile dysfunction, but doctors will also suggest lifestyle changes, like diet and exercise, to help treat, and even cure erectile dysfunction.

How Exercise Affects the Body

Aerobic exercise strengthens the cardiovascular system by making the heart stronger and the lungs more efficient. A stronger heart delivers more blood to the body with fewer beats, which also lowers blood pressure. Efficient lungs can transfer more oxygen into the blood stream with each breath. Resistance exercise increases the metabolism so that we burn more calories at rest. Resistance exercise also helps with venous return--helping the blood return from the extremities to the heart. Additionally, exercise regulates blood sugar by increasing the amount of energy we use and helps us maintain healthy weight and body composition. It is possible to exercise too much, however, and over-exercising can cause a decrease in testosterone levels and diminished libido. Exercising 30 minutes a day at least five days a week is sufficient for overall health.

How Exercise Affects Erectile Dysfunction

The penis needs adequate blood flow in order to become erect and healthy blood vessels in order to remain erect. Diseases like hypertension, diabetes and obesity all adversely affect vascular health. Because exercise can actually improve vascular health and reverse or control the factors that contribute to erectile dysfunction, it can actually improve erectile response. Exercise also has direct effects on erectile dysfunction by improving circulation to all parts of the body, including the penis. According to the American Council on Exercise (ACE), men who exercised vigorously for 20 to 30 minutes were less likely to have erection problems as inactive men. Additionally, ACE sites a University of California study where 78 sedentary men reported more reliable sexual functioning and more frequent sexual activity after exercising one hour per day, three to four times a week.

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