Smoking, drinking, prescription or self-medication have become part of our modern lifestyle. It has been observed that excessive intake of such medicines is one of the leading causes of sexual dysfunction. The side effects of medications, including some antidepressant drugs, affects sexual desire and function. Male sexual dysfunction is one of the most common health problems affecting men and becomes more common as men age. The most common problems related to sexual dysfunction in men include ejaculation disorders, erectile dysfunction and inhibited sexual desire.
Let’s first understand erectile dysfunction and the measures to be taken for prevention of erectile dysfunction.
What is Erectile Dysfunction?
Erectile dysfunction also known as impotence, is the inability to have and maintain an erection hard enough for satisfactory sexual intercourse. A lot of lifestyle related habits takes a silent toll on erection quality and sexual dysfunction. However, there is more to sex and relationships than erections. The emotional impact of ED is more devastating than the physical impact.
Most men feel awkward to discuss erection problems with their doctor. However, it is essential to go in for an evaluation as problems with erection may be a sign of underlying health ailments such as heart disease or diabetes that may need additional medical assistance. Sometimes, treating the underlying problem is enough to improve the erection quality and strength. However, if the problem persists, then a medical plan may have to be devised to address the condition.
What causes ED?
Erectile dysfunction can result from many problems that involve the brain, hormones, emotions, nerves, blood vessels and muscles. Stress and other mental health issues can also cause erectile or sexual dysfunction. Sometimes, erectile dysfunction can be caused due to a combination of physical and psychological issues.
Physical causes of erectile dysfunction:
- Heart disease
- Clogged blood vessels (atherosclerosis)
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Metabolic syndrome, a condition involving high insulin levels, increased blood pressure, body fat around the waist and high cholesterol
- Parkinson’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Low testosterone
- Peyronie’s disease, development of scar tissue inside the penis
- Certain prescription medications
- Tobacco use
- Alcoholism and other forms of substance abuse
- Treatments for prostate cancer or enlarged prostate
- Surgeries or injuries that affect the pelvic area or spinal cord
Psychological causes of erectile dysfunction
The brain plays an important role to achieve an erection. There are various kinds of things that can interfere with the sexual feelings and lead to erectile dysfunction. Some of these include:
- Depression, anxiety or other mental health conditions
- Relationship problems due to stress, poor communication or other concerns
Which medications can affect sex drive?
Apart from the physical and psychological factors, some medicines may also cause erectile dysfunction. Are you wondering what causes ED and which medications may cause it? As per the 2001 study in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 59% people reported sexual dysfunction after being treated with antidepressants. As many as 62% men and 57% women experienced sexual problems due to antidepressants. It has been observed that a person experiencing depression may lose interest in pleasurable activities such as sex. Erectile dysfunction in men may also include decreased libido and inability to get an orgasm. So, there is a possibility that antidepressants may interfere with sexual functioning. As such, you need to be mindful of the possible side effects of medications and drugs. One way to do this is to check the leaflet that comes with the medication. This leaflet may highlight possible side-effects of that drug and if you are unlucky, ED might be mentioned in that dreaded list. In this situation, it is necessary to consult your doctor and get an alternate medicine. Now that we know how medication can hamper your sex life, let’s check some classes of drugs that may interfere with your sex life.
Statins and fibrates
Statins and fibrate medications are used for treating high cholesterol. Researchers claim that these drugs not only reduce the cholesterol levels but are also likely to interfere with the production of estrogen, testosterone, and other sex hormones. A review of studies published in 2002 for statins and fibrates concluded that both classes of drugs may cause erectile dysfunction. This study revealed that the levels of sexual pleasure decreased along with a drop in their LDL cholesterol levels.
Blood pressure medications
The main purpose of all the different blood pressure medicines is to lower the pressure inside the blood vessels. It is a known that a high blood pressure causes sexual dysfunction. However, studies have shown that most blood pressure drugs may also cause sexual difficulties. It has been observed that the decrease in blood flow may reduce the desire and interfere with erections and ejaculation in men.
Antidepressants are known to cause hormonal problems, if taken in excess. These drugs can cause problems in all areas of sexual function.
Anticonvulsant drugs are used for controlling seizures and are prescribed to people suffering from epilepsy. These drugs also help to treat some types of chronic pains such as migraines and neuropathic pain. Studies have revealed that they also lower the testosterone levels resulting in reduced desire and erection problems in men. They can also impair the ability of a person to reach orgasm.
Erectile dysfunction has become a persistent problem among men. Making lifestyle changes such as eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, reducing stress, treating depression and avoiding the use of alcohol, smoking, illicit drugs will not only improve sex drive but also ensure a healthy life.
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