Men with a healthy lifestyle and no chronic disease had the lowest risk for erectile dysfunction; the greatest difference was seen for men aged 65-79. For instance, men who exercised at least three hours per week had a 30% lower risk for ED than those who exercised little. Obesity, smoking, and excessive TV watching were also associated with having a greater risk of erectile dysfunction.
Erectile dysfunction is your body’s “check engine light” because ED can be an early sign of serious health problems like high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol or low testosterone. The blood vessels in the penis are smaller than other parts of the body. So ED symptoms often occur long before more serious problems like a heart attack or stroke. When an otherwise healthy man in his 20’s experiences ED, it’s cause for concern.
"One of the reasons erectile dysfunction increases with age is that the diseases that lead to it also increase with age," notes Dr. Feloney. Evaluating the causes of erectile dysfunction starts with your doctor taking a good health history and giving you a physical exam. Common medical issues that can lead to erectile dysfunction include diabetes, high blood pressure, hardening of the arteries, low testosterone, and neurological disease. Talk to your doctor about better managing these health conditions.
If the problem is physical, there are numerous treatments available, such as penile injections or penile revascularization surgery, which increases blood flow to the cavernosal artery of the penis. There are also medications like Viagra, Cialis and Levitra, but Lehmiller cautioned men with erectile difficulties not to self-medicate without seeing a doctor beforehand due to the potential negative side effects associated with such medications (such as chest pain or shortness of breath).
The blood vessels in your penis are smaller than the larger veins and arteries in other parts of your body. What that means is the first sign of hypertension, heart disease, high cholesterol, and clogged arteries may not be a stroke or a heart attack. It will often be erectile dysfunction. Regular physical activity reduces your risks for cardiovascular disease (which is awesome), but it also lowers your risk for ED. If there’s a better reason to sweat through a spin class, I can’t think of one.