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Caffeine And Erectile Dysfunction

Caffeine And Erectile Dysfunction

What causes ED?

Occasionally, men have trouble getting an erection. It’s typically a temporary problem, but if it happens frequently you may have erectile dysfunction (ED).

An erection starts with physical or emotional stimulation. The brain sends signals throughout your central nervous system, increasing blood flow to the penis. Muscles within the penis relax to allow blood to enter. Pressure from the flow of blood makes your penis firm and erect.

Anything that disrupts blood flow to the penis can cause ED. It’s sometimes a symptom of an underlying illness such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or heart disease. It can also occur following surgery for cancer of the bladder, prostate, or colon.

Other possible causes of ED include:

  • Peyronie’s disease, which involves damage to the nerves near your penis
  • low testosterone
  • a neurological condition
  • drug or alcohol consumption
  • smoking
  • being overweight or obese

Is it true that caffeine helps with ED?

The theory that caffeine can help treat ED may stem from studies on the subject.

One recent study found that men who drank about 170-375 milligrams (mg) of caffeine per day were less likely to report ED than those who didn’t. The researchers noted, however, that they weren’t able to find a connection between caffeine and increased blood flow. The study was also inherently biased. The data came from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. More research is needed to confirm this study’s findings.

Drinking a few cups of coffee per day to treat ED would be an attractive solution for some people, but there isn’t enough evidence to conclude that caffeine is helpful in treating ED.

Caffeine and Blood Flow

Because caffeine can act as a vasoconstrictor, a substance that narrows blood vessels, it has been postulated to worsen ED. But the effects of caffeine on blood flow may seem a bit contradictory. Initially, a mild constriction of blood flow can occur, but this effect is temporary and not common in habitual caffeine consumers. Caffeine primarily acts as a vasodilator, which means it improves blood flow -- which can be beneficial to ED. Caffeine also stimulates the central nervous system, causing a sudden burst of energy and alertness. Interestingly, caffeine is the most widely consumed stimulant in the world. Caffeine is consumed in the diets of 89 percent of US adults on a daily basis, with 70 percent of this caffeine consumption coming from coffee, according to a study published in the May 2015 issue of “American Society for Nutrition.”

Caffeine and Erectile Dysfunction

Since caffeine is found in beverages that have additional health effects, such as the beneficial antioxidants in coffee and tea, or the less beneficial sugars in energy drinks, it can be challenging for researchers to tease out which effects are caffeine-related and which effects are from other substances. Coffee, for example, contains hundreds of compounds that can impact human health. A review article published in the September 2013 issue of “Journal of American College of Cardiology” reported that regular coffee consumption was either neutral or beneficial to a variety of health outcomes, including heart disease, diabetes and death from all causes. Caffeine seems to also favorably influence ED. A study published in the April 2015 issue of “PLoS One” analyzed self-reported data from over 3700 men, and linked 2 to 3 daily cups of coffee daily to a reduced risk of ED

Is caffeine a contributing factor to ED

Although caffeine was suspected by many to cause erectile dysfunction due to its initial constriction of blood flow, the effect is temporary. In addition, it’s not as common in people who drink caffeine regularly.

In reality, caffeine is a vasodilator, improving blood flow, which is beneficial to ED. Granted, we’re talking about two to three cups of coffee a day. Any more than that and men can run into problems.

Too much caffeine can cause a rapid or too strong heartbeat, anxiety, headaches, palpitations, and, of course, problems falling and staying asleep.

Considering that lack of sleep can contribute to ED, it’s best not to have too much coffee, and not to drink it within several hours of bedtime.

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