Sexual Health

Do Statins Cause Erectile Dysfunction?

A waxy, fat-like substance in the body, is known as cholesterol. Cholesterol can be divided into good and bad cholesterol; the good cholesterol is known as HDL, while bad cholesterol is known as LDL.

The bad cholesterol creates many types of problems, primarily creating arterial plaque in the bloodstream, which obstructs the smooth flow of blood in the body.

One survey1 reveals that the majority of Americans lack basic nutrition information. The study was published by the Physicians Committee, tying in with the fact that the primary reason for having high cholesterol is an unhealthy lifestyle.

The high cholesterol harms your cardiovascular health. It also affects digestive health and has been linked to erectile dysfunction in men.

Statins are a class of drugs often used to treat high cholesterol. Some researchers suggest a link between statin and erectile dysfunction. We explore the possibility of this connection.

What Are Statins?

Statins refer to a group of medication that is available through a prescription. A doctor will first assess a patient and determine what the best drugs would be for a particular condition.

The medication is mainly used as a way of regulating cholesterol levels. In particular, it helps to lower total cholesterol levels in a patient’s blood.

There are several reasons why a doctor may decide to prescribe statins to a patient. The drug is sometimes preferred over alternative medicines used to treat high cholesterol.

It has been found that the risk of a heart attack is reduced by up to 35% when statins are used. This is only the case when the patient has existing high levels of total cholesterol. The risk of stroke may also be reduced with the drug.

There is a chemical in these drugs that act on a specific enzyme in the liver. This enzyme is responsible for cholesterol production. By inhibiting the action of the enzyme, less cholesterol is produced in the body.

What Conditions Are Statins Used To Treat?

Statin drugs are primarily used to treat high cholesterol in both men and women. The drug helps with two specific cholesterol measurements. This includes total cholesterol levels. LDL cholesterol levels may also be reduced with the use of statins. This is a type of lipid often referred to as the bad kind of cholesterol.

LDL cholesterol builds up in arteries and causes plaque. This is what increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes. The accumulation of this plaque in the arteries also leads to a higher risk of erectile problems in men.

It should be noted that patients with high triglycerides are sometimes also treated with statins. The drug has been shown to effectively reduce triglyceride levels too.

While total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglyceride levels decline, statins increase HDL cholesterol. This is a good kind of cholesterol. It helps to remove the bad type of lipids from the blood vessels.

Doctors generally prescribe a statin for patients with a higher risk of developing heart disease.

What Are The Side Effects Of Statins?

Even though statins are effective at lowering cholesterol levels, there are unpleasant side-effects that some people experience.

Before taking statins, patients should be educated about these side-effects. This helps the person know what they should expect. It also helps them decide if statins might be the appropriate option for them.

Some of the most frequently reported side-effects of statins include:

  • Headaches.

  • Some people find that they experience sleeping problems when they take statins.

  • Dizziness may occur.

  • Some people also experience drowsiness.

  • There have been cases where people experienced abdominal cramps.

  • Some people complain about gas and bloating.

  • Diarrhea can occur, but sometimes a person rather experiences constipation.

  • There are also cases where people develop a rash when they take the drug.

Cases of muscle aches, weakness, and tenderness have also been reported among people who use statins. This causes a condition known as myalgia. There are a couple of more adverse events associated with statins.

The drugs carry a warning for the risk of mental confusion and memory loss. Additionally, statins may also cause a rise in blood sugar levels. This may increase a person’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Neuropathy has also been linked as another serious side-effect that may occur in rare cases.

How Cholesterol And Erectile Dysfunction Are Linked?

Erectile dysfunction is one of the most common sexual dysfunctions observed among men. Erectile dysfunction is a condition where a man is not able to maintain or develop an erection during sexual intercourse.

According to statistic2, around 18 million American men are diagnosed with erectile dysfunction. Men can overcome or prevent erectile dysfunction by improving their lifestyle. This includes food habits, doing some exercises for erectile dysfunction, and medications.

The condition can be caused by many factors. Low testosterone levels can lead to sexual dysfunction, for example. In men with high cholesterol, failure to undergo lipid-lowering therapy may also be a contributing factor.

We already looked at high cholesterol’s effect on sexual function. This can lead to erectile dysfunction. In this section of this article, we will take a look at how high cholesterol can lead to erectile dysfunction.

Serum cholesterol and erectile dysfunction:

The study3 done by the group of researchers has found that there is a high correlation between erectile dysfunction and the level of serum cholesterol in the body. The high level of bad cholesterol in the body leads to a hardening of the arteries.

This process of hardening of the arteries is known as atherosclerosis. The high level of LDL inside your arteries restricts the smooth flow of the blood in your body. And, eventually, the restricted blood flow will lead to insufficient blood flow to the penis, leading to various sexual problems.

Triglyceride Levels:

Triglycerides are found at a very high level in vegetable oils and animal fats. The high level of triglyceride is also not good for a healthy lifestyle. A high level of triglyceride has a negative impact on cardiovascular risk. One study shows that the high level of triglyceride in the body is linked with erectile dysfunction.

The men with high cholesterol and metabolic syndrome are found to have a high level of triglyceride in their bodies. Metabolic syndrome is known as the collection of risk factors that can increase the risk of high blood pressure, diabetes mellitus, coronary heart disease, and stroke.

The high level of triglyceride is mainly because of poor lifestyle and obesity. This can significantly increase the risk of erectile dysfunction. Overall, it can be said that people with a high level of cholesterol are likely to have a high level of triglyceride. This further increases the risk of erectile dysfunction.

The close relationship between heart health and erectile health:

The things that are good for heart health are also usually good for erectile health. For instance, an optimum level of cholesterol in the body is a requirement for a healthy heart, and it is also a requirement for a firm erection.

What Is The Link Between Statins And Erectile Dysfunction?

Some studies have suggested that statins might be a contributing factor to erectile dysfunction. This finding is somewhat confusing since statins reduce cholesterol levels.

High cholesterol has been linked to erectile dysfunction. Still, there are side-effects of statins that have been noted in the male population. Some of these side-effects may hurt a man’s sexual health. In turn, this may cause problems with the male patient’s erectile function.

A study4 in the Asian Journal of Andrology was the first to reveal evidence for a possible connection. Researchers in the study found that statins might cause a man to experience a reduction in testosterone levels. This is a sex hormone that is critical for the sexual health of a man. When testosterone levels decline, a man is at risk of erectile dysfunction symptoms.

Even though high-density lipoprotein increases and low-density lipoprotein LDL cholesterol decreases, the effects that statins have on testosterone may be what links the drug to ED.

A few years later, another study5 showed that statins might not cause such an increase in the risk of ED. Researchers did note, however, that further studies are needed.

The results are currently inconclusive. It is still essential to consider the link between statins and type 2 diabetes, as well as other side-effects and complications. Some of these may further link the drug to the risk of ED.

Natural Alternatives To Statins

There are some practical ways to deal with erectile dysfunction that is caused by a high level of cholesterol in the body. Many natural methods are available as alternatives to statin therapy. Here are the simple ways to control your cholesterol to improve your erectile function.

The first thing you should do is you should make an effort to bring a change in your lifestyle. One of the major reasons for a high level of cholesterol in the body is a poor lifestyle. The change in lifestyle will not only help you control your level of cholesterol, but it will significantly improve your overall quality of life.

At first, you need to change your diet plan. Try to add as many foods as possible that can help you cut LDL and improve your cardiovascular and sexual health. And, you should also stay away from bad habits that are hazardous to your health as smoking. Excessive alcohol usage is also another factor that may worsen problems with cholesterol. Thus, alcohol should be consumed in moderation.

Lifestyle changes should also include the inclusion of foods that are high in monounsaturated fats. Polyunsaturated fats are also important, with an emphasis on omega-3 fatty acids. A person should also avoid eating trans fats. The diet should be high in soluble fiber, which has also been linked to a reduction in total and LDL cholesterol levels.

Finally, you should have a fitness routine as well. Regular workouts can significantly enhance your cardiovascular health, which helps in maintaining the level of cholesterol in your body.

Conclusion

Erectile dysfunction can ruin your quality of life. A bad sex life leads to a bad marital life and depression. So, the best thing you can do is to prevent yourself from sexual disorders, such as erectile dysfunction. Adjust your lifestyle to maintain your cholesterol level. It will help you to reduce the risk of many serious health problems, including erectile dysfunction in men.

Sources

  1. Las Vegas Review-Journal. (2015) Americans flunking fitness: Survey reveals a lack of basic diet and exercises knowledge. [online] Available at: https://www.reviewjournal.com/sponsor-old/americans-flunking-fitness-survey-reveals-lack-of-basic-diet-and-exercise-knowledge-infographic/
  2. Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. (2007) 18 Million Men in the United States Affected by Erectile Dysfunction. [online] Available at: http://www.jhsph.edu/news/news-releases/2007/selvin-erectile-dysfunction.html
  3. Annals of Internal Medicine. (2003) Sexual Function in Men Older Than 50 Years of Age: Results from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study. [online] Available at: http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.476.1201&rep=rep1&type=pdf
  4. Asian Journal of Andrology. (2014) The role of statins in erectile dysfunction: a systematic review and meta-analysis. [online] Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4023379/
  5.  The American Journal of Medicine. (2018) Statin Use in Men and New Onset of Erectile Dysfunction: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. [online] Available at: https://www.amjmed.com/article/S0002-9343(17)31125-7/fulltext

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