Erectile dysfunction: it may not be something you talk about very often, but it is an incredibly common issue for men. In fact, it is thought that up to 55% of men between 40-70 years of age regularly experience problems in that department, which can not only be embarrassing and frustrating, but it can negatively affect self esteem, too. Beyond psychological causes, there are several physical health conditions that can put you at greater risk of erectile dysfunction, many of which are inflammation-related. In this article, I’ll be taking a closer look at the condition and how omega-3 may be able to lower inflammation and improve erectile dysfunction to get your bedroom antics back in full swing!
What is erectile dysfunction?
Erectile dysfunction is the inability to get and maintain an erection that is sufficient for satisfactory sexual intercourse. It is classed as a vascular disease, which simply means a condition which affects the blood vessels and interferes with blood flow (1). As there are several health conditions that are also implicated by improper blood flow, and often caused or made worse by inflammation, it is easy to understand why erectile dysfunction is a common symptom of these diseases.
What conditions increase the risk of erectile dysfunction?
It is thought that 90% of cases of erectile dysfunction are caused by an underlying condition that interferes with blood flow. The main conditions associated with erectile dysfunction are:
● High blood pressure
● High cholesterol
● Cardiovascular disease (2)
What role does inflammation play in erectile dysfunction and how can omega-3 help?
It is thought that low-grade, systemic inflammation affects the small blood vessels of the body; the penis is full of blood vessels and it is the rush of blood to the penis that results in an erection. However, if these are inflamed, blood cannot flow easily, causing erectile dysfunction (3). Omega-3, found most abundantly in oily fish, is a powerful anti-inflammatory nutrient required for circulatory health, and has shown effectiveness in many of the conditions associated with erectile dysfunction, such as high blood pressure and diabetes; by reducing systemic inflammation, omega-3 can improve blood circulation around the entire body. While research specifically on erectile dysfunction is limited, it follows that omega-3 could improve blood flow to the penis (4). Omega-3 has also been shown to be supportive of depressive symptoms (to read more, head over to this article - Depression, Inflammation and Omega 3), which may in turn improve erectile dysfunction cases related to psychological distress. As such, one study recommended a 500–1000 mg daily supplement of omega-3 would be useful for men to maximise erectile and vascular health, particularly for those at increased risk of cardiac episodes (5).
And finally, don’t forget that maintaining a healthy lifestyle is the most crucial aspect for managing systemic inflammation levels. That means taking regular exercise, eating a healthful, low-inflammatory diet and keeping stress levels to a minimum.
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