Still, working out how to keep yourself and your love life as healthy as possible can be tough. Luckily, Professor Geoff Hackett, Medical Advisor on behalf of Hims, shared the five things we should all avoid in order to keep sexual dysfunction ― particularly erectile dysfunction, or ED ― at bay.
After all, with around 40% of men aged 40 and nearly 70% of those aged 70 experiencing erectile dysfunction, it seems his advice is sorely needed.
Here are the everyday habits that could affect your experience in the bedroom:
1) Eating too many fatty foods
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with indulging every now and then. But ”Consuming saturated animal fats, trans fats, and cholesterol in excess can negatively impact your heart by contributing to atherosclerosis,” the professor shared.
Atherosclerosis is the name of a condition wherein fatty deposits pile up on your artery walls. This causes your arteries to narrow, leaving you at higher risk of stroke and heart attack.“ED can be an important early warning sign that the smaller arteries of the penis are being affected and that larger arteries will be affected unless medical issues are addressed. In a large study from Italy, 2 years of intense diet and lifestyle intervention produced only moderate reduction in ED,” Hackett added.
2) Eating too much sugar
I get it, I get it ― I have a sweet tooth too. But if you’re eating a lot of sugar on the reg, you might start to see the effects in your bedroom.
“When you eat sugary foods, your blood sugar quickly spikes as the glucose hits your bloodstream. Your pancreas then kicks into high gear, producing insulin to bring your blood sugar back down to normal. The more sugar you eat, the more frequently this cycle happens and the more likely it is that it will affect your sexual health,” Hackett explained.
In fact, he adds, erectile dysfunction can sometimes be an early sign of diabetes. If this is the case, he says that “early medical intervention can be helpful.”
3) Overindulging in substances like drugs and alcohol
A date to the pub is a classic for a reason ― booze can help us release some of our inhibitions (even if it probably doesn’t make you fancy people more). But this isn’t always the wisest move, Hackett says.
“Whereas modest alcohol is frequently used socially to increase sexual desire by relieving inhibitions, overconsumption of alcohol may also have a negative impact on your sexual health and function by raising blood pressure and cholesterol, lowering testosterone via toxic effects on the nervous system. This leads to ED, low sexual desire[,] and delayed or absent orgasm,” he points out.
And alcohol isn’t the only culprit ― “Anabolic steroids and supplements taken for muscle development and athletic performance can also suppress the body’s own production of testosterone leading to ED, low sexual desire and reduced fertility,” he adds.
Some antidepressants and tranquillisers can also affect your sexual desire and delay ejaculation, he says ― but, of course, these could well be worth the tradeoff for some with mental health issues.
4) Consuming nicotine
We know that smoking is bad for your lungs ― but it can also cause ED in younger or older men, Hackett says.
“The key culprit is nicotine, which is a known vasoconstrictor (a type of chemical that reduces blood flow through arteries),” Hackett says. “The small blood vessels of the penis are especially vulnerable and smokers have 1.5 to two-fold increased risk of ED.”
It can take a while to resolve itself, too. “Erections are dependent on a mix of signalling from your brain and a reliable level of blood supply through the arteries of the penis. Whereas health benefits can be seen within weeks of stopping smoking, resolution of ED can take 6 months or longer,” the professor said.
5) Stressing out
I’m guilty of panicking wayyy too much than is good for me, but I had no idea how much it could be affecting my time in the boudoir until Hackett explained.
“Stress is associated with increased levels of adrenaline which causes difficulty in maintaining an erection and also affects the production of sex hormones, especially testosterone, that may reduce libido,” he pointed out.
Cortisol, a stress hormone, can also affect your testosterone production ― and the longer it’s high, the worse the results can be.
“It’s almost impossible to avoid stress in your daily life but there are plenty of stress management techniques you can try to lower your stress level, manage your hormone levels, and hopefully boost your libido such as breathing exercises, meditation, and sex therapy,” Hackett says.
He finishes by saying that, while making lifestyle changes can help to ease ED in some, it’s important to get checked out if you’re experiencing issues regularly.
It “can be a marker for serious disease as well as low testosterone. Men suffering from ED may be deemed appropriate for prescription medication, like daily tadalafil (previously Cialis),” Hackett says.
So, speak to your doctor if you’re experiencing erectile dysfunction ― even if nothing bigger is wrong, you deserve support, as with any other health issue.