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MEN: You’re Only as Healthy as Your Erection

Dr. Lindsey Mcilvena, MD

In her day job, treating patients living with chronic disease, nutrition and lifestyle are not after-thoughts, they’re central to helping her patients get well. She’s also our go-to expert on plant-based diets.

Yes, fellas, you read the article title correctly. Some people say that the eyes provide a window to the soul; I say that the erection provides a sneak peek into the cardiovascular system.

Think back to 6th grade sex education—you remember, don’t you, the anatomy of the male erection?  Relaxation of the penis’ muscles cause tiny blood vessels to relax as well, allowing a rush of blood into the penis. The blood then gets trapped under high pressure, and viola, a healthy erection.

Seems simple enough, right?

What’s critical here is the health of those blood vessels, if they’re gunked up with cholesterol and fatty-inflamed plaques, they can’t relax properly, and erectile dysfunction (ED) can appear. In fact, a man at risk of heart attack and stroke may experience ED long before more life-threatening symptoms.  In this vein, men who have ED may be headed down the road to heart disease, and not even know it.

According to a John’s Hopkins study in 2007, more than 18 million men over the age of 20 suffer from ED. And, according to the CDC, 1 in every 4 men will die of heart disease.

Heart disease is the top killer of American men. Do you see where I’m going with this? In many cases, they are the same type of disease—blocked blood vessel disease, a.k.a. atherosclerosis.

The point is that problems with erections may signal more widespread disease. It would behoove you, men, to pay attention to the quality of your erections— not only to keep your sex life satisfying, but to keep yourself free of the heart disease that takes too many lives too soon.

If your erections start to get weak or infrequent, talk to your doctor immediately.

Health Problems Linked to Erectile Dysfunction – Sources
CDCJohn’s Hopkins UniversityCleveland Clinic