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What Chronic Diseases Affect ED
Is there a relationship between chronic diseases and erectile dysfunction? You may be surprised to learn there is a growing body of evidence that suggests this is the case.
A chronic disease is a disease that continues for a full year or more. Such diseases generally require ongoing medical attention.
They may also limit the kind of activities you can pursue and severely impair your quality of life.
Chronic diseases such as diabetes and cancer are the leading cause of disability and death in the United States. Their diagnosis and treatment cost the nation $3.5 trillion per year.
Like erectile dysfunction (ED), chronic diseases are often the result of poor lifestyle habits.
Common risk factors can include:
- Alcohol abuse
- Poor nutrition
- Lack of exercise
Not all men who have chronic diseases suffer from ED and having ED does not always indicate the presence of a chronic disease.
However, many chronic diseases can cause or worsen ED. It’s also important to be aware ED can often provide the first indication of a chronic disease.
Heart disease (cardiovascular) can contribute to ED by reducing blood flow to the penis. The penis needs an adequate supply of blood to become erect or engorged.
However, many of the factors that contribute to heart disease are the same as the ones that cause ED.
In fact, research shows men who get ED often develop heart disease within the next five years. That’s a good reason to avoid the temptation to suffer in silence and seek professional help.
Anything that causes narrowing of the arteries can impair blood flow to the penis and the fact the heart has to work harder places it under unnecessary strain.
The arteries and other blood vessels can narrow due to a build-up of plaque. The condition is known as atherosclerosis. Many things can cause it including high cholesterol, smoking, and obesity. 
Diabetes is another chronic disease that can affect ED. Research shows men with diabetes often experience ED up to 15 years earlier than non-diabetic men.
Standard diabetes treatments generally involve a combination of medication and lifestyle changes that may also help alleviate ED.
Although it would seem diabetes is an unavoidable condition, poor lifestyle choices can make you more susceptible to the disease. Smoking and lack of exercise as are two factors that contribute to Type 2 diabetes. Alcohol abuse is another. 
There’s a lot to be said for clean living. Apart from reducing the risk of diabetes, a healthy lifestyle may also help prevent ED.
Although this may seem like the least of their problems, men living with HIV are more likely to experience ED than men who are HIV-free.
In the case of HIV, ED may be due to mental reasons, physical reasons, or a combination of the two.
Knowing you have HIV can cause a lot of anxiety that can interfere with the ability to get hard. When a man tests positive for HIV, the mental repercussions can be far-reaching. Apart from having to deal with the knowledge he has the disease, he may also worry about passing it on.
On a physical level, HIV can cause ED by reducing testosterone production.
Men who have HIV and hepatitis C as well may have an additional factor to deal with. When combined, the two diseases can cause lipodystrophy.
This is a condition that changes the way fat is distributed around the body and has been linked to ED.
To make matters even worse, certain HIV medications can interfere with erection capabilities too.
Cancer is another chronic disease that may interfere with a man’s ability to get hard. However, in this case, ED is often due to the treatment rather than a direct result of the disease.
Certain surgical procedures may cause nerve damage that prevents the penis from getting the signal to get hard. Radiation treatment and chemotherapy can cause men to experience ED as well. As can removing certain parts of the body such as the prostate gland or the lower colon.
Many other cancer treatments can impair a man’s sexual function too.
Rheumatoid arthritis causes inflammation around the joints. It’s a painful condition that can limit mobility and impair quality of life. It may also cause ED.
Experts say men who have rheumatoid arthritis are 66 percent more likely to develop ED than they would be if they did not have the disease.
This is partly due to the condition’s ability to inflame the blood vessels within the penis.
Sleep apnea is a chronic condition that causes snoring and also poses a danger to life.
People who have sleep apnea stop breathing during sleep. The periods where breathing stops are known as apneas and they may occur up to 100 times an hour. Sleep apnea is a dangerous condition that requires medical treatment.
Research shows men who have obstructive sleep apnea are more prone to ED. The reasons for this are not clear but scientists believe it may be because sleep apnea may disrupt testosterone production. They think lack of oxygen may be a contributing factor too.
Chronic Diseases and How They Affect ED – Summary
Although some chronic diseases are unavoidable, others can often be prevented by adopting a healthy lifestyle. The same can be said for ED.
There are plenty of arguments for eating healthy and getting exercise and just as many for quitting smoking and resisting the urge to overdo it with alcohol.
Reducing the risk of ED and chronic disease are just two of the many benefits that are attributable to healthy living.
Prevention is better than cure but it’s never too late to modify your habits and there is no sense in pursuing practices that may take a bad situation and make it even worse.