Is there a link between statins and erectile dysfunction?
Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a condition characterised by the difficulty or inability to get and maintain an erection. There are various factors such as depression, anxiety, and low testosterone which may cause the problem.
However, there has lately been a debate about whether statins – a popular type of cholesterol medication – can sometimes aggravate the ED condition.
Researchers have explored the possibility that the side effects of statins may include a link to ED which is very under-reported. It was found that statins may in fact reduce testosterone levels.
What exactly are statins?
Statins are amongst the most common drugs used to control cholesterol. They block the production of cholesterol by the liver, which helps to reduce the levels of “bad” cholesterol, also known as LDL. There are various brands of statins, and most of them share some possible side effects like headaches, muscle pains, memory loss, and nausea.
In addition, studies have now shown that the statins’ inhibition of cholesterol production, may very likely interfere with the production of testosterone, which depends on a supply of cholesterol for the proper staging of the hormone.
Research also indicated that men with libido problems who were on statin drugs were twice as likely to have issues with low testosterone, than other men not taking statins.
Dealing with the statin issue
If you have high cholesterol and are taking statins to keep it under control, and are feeling some effects of low libido or ED, bear in mind that there are other symptoms which could be adding to the mix. It is never a good idea to discard any medications without consulting your doctor.
Conditions like blocked blood vessels, or clogged arteries, could be impeding good blood flow to various parts of the body, including the genital areas where a healthy blood flow is very necessary for sexual function.
However, if you are concerned that statins may at the root of your libido hassles, check with your doctor.
Healthy lifestyle and eating habits can help to reduce bad cholesterol levels, and may even result in a lowering of the prescribed medicine dosage. It is interesting to note that recommended lifestyle habits that benefit ED issues, as well as reduce cholesterol, are basically the same.
- Following a diet high in fruit and vegetables, but low in saturated fats.
- Choosing lean meats.
- Adding fatty fish which are high in omega 3 and antioxidants.
- Giving up smoking – if it applies.
- Getting regular exercise.
It is important for men on statins to stay alert for signs of low testosterone such as: falling asleep after meals, a poorer athletic performance, grumpiness, and a reduced sex drive.
There is a school of thought that statins may actually help to reduce erectile dysfunction in a roundabout sort of way. Statins are prescribed to combat the build-up of plaque which clog the arteries and prevent good circulation to the rest of the body.
This means that the genital area is also deprived of good circulation, which may lead to lower testosterone production, and weaker erections. This may seem like something of a 2-pronged solution, wherein low testosterone issues and the need for statin treatment share some common causes. The consensus of opinion is that more research is needed.
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