Yikes! If Your Man Can't Get Hard, It May Mean This Scary Disease

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We've carefully trained ourselves to never equate a man's erection with the pitter-patter of a man's heart. The two are separate entities, independent from one another, and often acting in inverse ways.

But there is a connection between erectile dysfunction and heart attack.

Nice try, science. But we're smarter than that.

RELATED: How To Help A Man Get Hard (And Stay Hard) During Sex

But as we read more, we stumbled upon our foolish mistake.

Not being able to get an erection spells trouble for a man's heart — physically, not emotionally. In fact, it could mean diabetes, heart problems, or metabolic syndrome.

Gary Wittert, endocrinologist and professor of medicine at the University of Adelaide, says the blood vessels in the penis are identical to those in the heart. If the blood is having a hard time rushing to the penis, chances are it's having a hard time flowing elsewhere, too.

Often times, this is subclinical coronary artery disease.

In a 2007 study conducted by Dr. Ian Thompson of the Texas Health Science Center, 19,000 men were rounded up and studied.

The ones who reported having a tough time holding an erection were just as likely to have a heart attack or stroke as smokers.

Some thinks it's a bunch of hooey that older men should assume erections cease with age. But if Hugh Hefner could do it at 90, so can you.

"What I truly believe is it's not just age. It isn't inevitable that you lose your erections with age," Dr. Thompson said. "You're starting to see with obesity a very high prevalence of erectile dysfunction in younger men and it's a warning sign."

Do you hear that, guys? If you want to keep having sex through your middle age, hop on the treadmill and cut down on the McDonald's.

RELATED: 5 Ways To Have Incredible Sex (Even When He Can't Get An Erection)

A 2018 study conducted by the various cardiology departments in Ireland found that 67 percent of patients that had erectile dysfunction had it for an average of 39 months before they started developing coronary artery disease.

The 25,650 men with pre-existing erectile dysfunction had a 75 percent increased risk of developing peripheral vascular disease.

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Both erectile dysfunction and heart disease have the same risk factors: diabetes, obesity, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, smoking, poor diet, lack of physical exercise, overconsumption of alcohol, psychological distress, and depression.

The suggested approach to decreasing these symptoms is to make lifestyle changes. It's recommended to exercise, adopt a healthy diet, reduce weight, and stop smoking.

With these changes, a man's erectile dysfunction will improve and their risk of cardiovascular disease will reduce as well.

There are also other treatment options that are under development.

Gene therapy seems to be a promising treatment in combination with sildenafil. Also, stem cell therapy is showing signs of being effective at tissue regeneration for erectile dysfunction.

This could be a promising way of correcting erectile dysfunction in the future.

RELATED: 4 Sex Positions To Help Him Get Hard — And Stay That Way

Melissa Noble is a freelance writer and blogger who lives in Brooklyn. Her work has been featured on MSN, Bustle, Reader's Digest, The JAMA Network, Heidelberger Leader, Hume Leader, and more. Visit her website.