What does being overweight do to your body?
Being overweight or obese is caused by a diet that is high in calories, particularly fatty and sugary foods, and lack of physical activity.
Obesity leads to many complications, but by far the most prevalent is heart disease. This is because a diet high in saturated fats and sugar can also damage your blood vessels, critically limiting your blood flow and leading to dangerous complications such as heart attacks and strokes. In fact, 31,000 cardiovascular-related deaths are linked to being overweight each year.
“Obesity causes 31,000 heart-related deaths each year”
Severe obesity can also cause metabolic syndrome, a medical term for having high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes mellitus and being obese all at once. This elevates your risk of heart disease significantly.
How is obesity linked to erectile dysfunction?
ED is just another one of the many conditions that has been linked to being overweight. It increases your risk of ED in several key ways.
The most prevalent physical cause of ED is cardiovascular disease. As obesity puts a serious strain on the heart, it's no surprise that the two conditions share the same risk factors.
Two of the most common obesity-related heart problems are high cholesterol and high blood pressure (hypertension). High cholesterol means less of the ‘bad cholesterol’ is removed from your blood to be broken and builds up in your blood vessels. High blood pressure can then damage the arteries, further facilitating the buildup of cholesterol and other fatty substances in the damaged areas. This arterial damage is known as atherosclerosis.
This combined effect inhibits blood flow throughout your body, is what causes serious conditions, and is what impacts penile function. Your penis needs enough healthy blood flow to reach the key blood vessels and be trapped by the soft tissues to remain erect. However, when you are obese and have these conditions, this makes the process very difficult and results in impotence in many men.
“Half of the men who notice ED symptoms are diagnosed with coronary artery disease within 1 - 3 years after.”
ED is often an early sign of these heart conditions, especially if you’re overweight. One study found that over 50% of men who experienced ED symptoms were diagnosed with coronary artery disease (endothelial dysfunction) within 1 - 3 years.
Another phenomenon that has been linked to obesity is low testosterone levels. People who are overweight have lower testosterone levels because the excess fat tissue, especially around the abdomen, means more testosterone is converted into oestrogen.
Testosterone is important for essential functions in the body including muscle mass, strength, bone mass as well as key sexual functions such as regulating libido (sexual desire) and sperm production.
There is also some evidence
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that it is linked to erectile function, causing conditions including impotence and premature ejaculation (PE). While it is not the most probable cause, if you are experiencing other symptoms of low testosterone, your doctor or healthcare provider may want to run a few tests to diagnose your ED.
Psychological erectile dysfunction is the term used to describe impotence caused by a psychological issue. While there are several potential causes that fall under this umbrella, one of the most prevalent is mental health disorders.
“Overweight people are twice as likely to develop depression.”
Being overweight comes with a lot of physical limitations and health issues, which can result in mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety. One meta-analysis
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found that, on average, obese and overweight people are 55% more likely to develop depression.
Mental health disorders can affect your vascular and nervous systems, which can impact your erections. Another way it can link to ED is through mental health treatment. ED is a notorious side effect of many antidepressants.
Sexual performance anxiety
Another common type of psychological ED is sexual performance anxiety (SPA). Whilst present in women as well, it is particularly prevalent in men as it can cause erection problems, low libido and orgasm difficulties.
This condition is more prevalent in overweight men. This is because they are more prone to negative thoughts such as low self-esteem and body image issues due to their body weight.
How can I improve my symptoms?
If you think your weight is causing your symptoms, weight loss is the best first step.
The best way to start losing weight is to make some simple lifestyle changes. In terms of diet, you should reduce your calorie intake and make healthier food choices. You should also introduce some light physical activity into your day-to-day life, slowly increasing the intensity once you are able. Early interventions will reduce your risk of many severe health problems.
If you’re struggling to lose weight, there are treatment options available. There are several clinically-proven and effective prescription drugs available to help you lose weight. They also improve your heart health and blood glucose levels.
You can also combine weight loss with ED treatment, such as Sildenafil (Viagra) or Tadalafil (Cialis), as a short-term fix for your symptoms.