How the Link Between ED and Hypercholesterolemia May be Affecting You

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Can High Cholesterol Cause ED?

Erectile dysfunction, simply referred to as ED, is a condition in which obtaining and keeping an erection long enough to perform sexual functions is limited. Although there are many different causes of this particular disorder, such as medications, suffering from depression and disorders such as diabetes for example, there are other health related causes. As a matter of fact, research indicates that there is a link between ED and hypercholesterolemia, most commonly called high cholesterol.

How Does High Cholesterol Contribute to Erectile Dysfunction?

Atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries is often a direct complication of having high levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. Some may also refer to atherosclerosis as “hardening” or “clogging” of the arteries with plaque. When this particular condition occurs, blood flow is restricted throughout the body. Since the arteries located in the penis are much smaller than other arteries found within the body, the inability to keep an erection can actually be one of the first warning signs of hypercholesterolemia.

Can this Problem be Prevented?

In many cases, ED as a result of high cholesterol is preventable. One of the best ways of preventing this problem is by keeping your cholesterol under control. Preventative measures can include periodic screenings, education and knowing your risk factors. Those with a family history of heart problems or those that suffer from certain conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes and who smoke are at elevated risks. In addition to this, the link between ED and hypercholesterolemia is also greater to men under the age of 50. If this is of significant concern to the patient, he should discuss this with his physician. Various treatment options may be available and will depend on the individual needs of the patient.

Medications for ED Caused by High Cholesterol

There are various treatment options for erectile dysfunction caused by hypercholesterolemia. Although some of these may focus on the management of ED, other treatments will involve lowering the cholesterol. Popular drugs that focus on the treatment of ED include Cialis, Viagra and Levitra. These medications allow the blood to flow more freely through the penis, so that an erection may be obtained. Although side effects are rare with these drugs, they should be used with caution and adverse reactions are still a possibility. This class of drugs may not be safe for those taking medications used to treat atherosclerosis, such as blood thinners. These medications may not be appropriate for an individual with certain other health conditions either. However, there may be alternatives to these types of medications.

Non-Pharmacological Treatments

Medications are not the only options that are available. Controlling cholesterol through changes in diet and lifestyle can also help reverse the effects of erectile dysfunction and bring LDL levels down. This can include eating a healthy diet aimed at lowering the cholesterol, exercising properly and quitting smoking for example. Your physician may also be able to recommend an individual diet and exercise program tailored to meet these specific needs.


Erectile Dysfunction: A Sign of Heart Disease? Mayo Clinic. 14, May 2010. Viewed 27, October 2010.

Hypercholesterolemia-Induced Erectile Dysfunction: Endothelial Nitric Oxide Synthase (eNos) Uncoupling in the Mouse Penis by NAD(P)H Oxidase. 7, July 2010. Viewed 27, October 2010.