What is gout?
Gout is a form of arthritis which is very painful, characterised by crystallised deposits of uric acid in the joints. Uric acid is produced when the kidneys are unable to process purines properly, which has been absorbed by the blood. Purines are natural substances found in certain foods which include red meat, some seafood like tuna, beer, wine, high-fat dairy products, and sugary food and drinks.
Uric acid is usually absorbed into the blood from food, processed by the kidneys, and eliminated in the urine. If you eat too much of foods which are loaded with purines, or your kidneys do not function all that well, uric acid crystals will build up in the blood and be deposited in the extremities such as the joints.
Gout mostly begins in the feet, affecting the ankle and toes, but it can also form in the knees, wrists, fingers, and elbows. This nasty ailment causes incredible pain, swelling, stiffness and redness in the affected area.
Who is vulnerable to gout?
Gout is far more common in men than in women. This is because until menopause, women are protected by the female hormone estrogen, which helps the kidneys to process uric acid. During and after menopause, when the estrogen level drops drastically, women are at the same risk as men of building up uric acid and suffering from gout.
In women, gout is more common in the feet and ankles, and seems to afflict women with high blood pressure and poor kidney function.
However, anyone at risk of high uric acid, both men and women, should monitor their purine intake, to help prevent gout from taking hold.
How gout can affect your sexual health:
Gout is very painful, and is always extremely sensitive to the touch. In fact, there are folk who have been known to cry out in pain, even if something brushes lightly against the affected area.
However, men who have a risk for developing gout can relax – gout does not cause pain in the penis! Studies have shown that high levels of uric acid are connected with endothelial dysfunction. Endothelium is the tissue which lines all the blood vessels in the body, including those in the penis. Excess uric acid causes the vessels to swell and become inflamed, and blood flow is subsequently restricted. The penis needs a good supply of blood to provide strong erections, and a reduced flow may result in weak erections, and a risk of developing erectile dysfunction – ED.
A study published by the Arthritis Research & Therapy in London, revealed that men with gout were at a 20% higher risk of developing ED than those who do not have gout.
It was also noted that men with gout were more likely to have pre-existing risk for ED, especially if they were overweight, drank a lot of alcohol, had bad diets, or had medical conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes.
Gout can also make sex painful for both men and women. Always tell each other if a particular activity is painful.
Improve your health
By following a healthy diet which limits eating of high-purine foods, and losing some weight, you will help to keep gout at bay. Certain anti-inflammatory meds may also help, but consult your doctor if you are unsure of anything.
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