Every man will deal with erectile dysfunction (ED) at some point in his life. The probability of ED occurring, however, increases with age. The increase isn’t slowly progressive either, but rather spikes sharply after the age of 50. It seems that sexual function is closely tied to age. The real question is why.
In August of 2003, a study was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine that surveyed more than 31,000 health professionals, aged 53-90, about their sexual function. As expected, younger men reported less ED. The really interesting information, however, was provided by men who experienced ED. Only 2% had experienced ED before age 40 and only 4% first experienced ED between 40 and 49 years of age. A whopping 26% had their first experience with ED at ages 50 to 59 and 40% first experienced ED between the ages of 60 and 59.
It isn’t clear what causes the sharp spike in ED at age 50, but the study above, and others like it, have linked the onset of ED to the quality of an individual’s general health. Men with healthy lifestyles and no chronic diseases had the lowest risk of ED. The gap between healthy and “unhealthy” men widens with age, suggesting that it isn’t age so much as the diseases associated with age that are the problem.
ED is primarily (though not exclusively) a disease that is caused by poor blood supply and poor blood supply often results from the buildup of plaque in arteries. In general, blood flow will be adequate to meet the body’s needs until a critical threshold is reached. In other words, after 50 years of arterial hardening (plaques building up), the body finally reaches the point at which the supply of blood to various organs is simply inadequate to meet demands. This is why heart attacks become more prevalent after age 50 and is also at least part of the reason why ED becomes more prevalent.
Risk factors for ED include smoking, obesity, excessive television watching, poor diet, and lack of exercise. In other words, the things that contribute to poor vascular health are the same things that contribute to ED. If you want to maintain erectile function, then maintaining blood flow to the penis is essential. The best way to maintain good vascular health is to eat healthy foods, exercise regularly, and avoid a sedentary lifestyle. Not only will good erectile function ensure a healthy sex life, it also improves self-esteem, boosts relationships, and increases overall levels of happiness. Ensuring good vascular health is about more than avoiding a heart attack, its about guaranteeing a better quality of life.
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