Judging by the reports of companies collecting statistics on the pharmaceutical market, drugs for lowering cholesterol and lipids in the blood are very much in demand. This suggests that elevated cholesterol is far from uncommon in today’s society. This condition may be asymptomatic, which is its insidiousness. It is elevated lipids and cholesterol that trigger many cardiovascular diseases, which are the leading cause of mortality in the world, and can also lead to erectile dysfunction in the early or middle stages.
What is Cholesterol in the Body for?
Cholesterol is a natural fatty substance used by the body to build cells and produce hormones. In particular, cholesterol is needed for the production of progesterone, anabolic hormones, etc., that is, it is a vital substance.
How can High Cholesterol Cause Erectile Dysfunction?
For many years, doctors have been aware of the connection between high cholesterol and erectile dysfunction. In this case, we mean the so-called ‘bad’ cholesterol (and not general one) because it is able to form plaques on the walls of arterial vessels. Thus, the vessels become contaminated and the blood flow in them deteriorates. Plaque buildup primarily affects the coronary arteries, but smaller arterial vessels may also be affected. If the plaque clogs the lumen of the heart artery, a heart attack occurs, and if it enters the lumen of the penile artery, this leads to the development of erectile dysfunction. The diameter of the penile artery is only two millimeters, so even a small cholesterol plaque can clog it, while the coronary and brain arteries can be patent. Therefore, ED is sometimes called ischemic disease below the waist and it is often a very early predictor of coronary artery disease and dangerous cardiovascular disorders.
There is also a condition called metabolic syndrome. It is characterized by an increase in visceral fat mass, a decrease in the sensitivity of peripheral tissues to insulin, and other signs. It is accompanied by elevated triglycerides and cholesterol. The combination of these conditions adversely affects men’s erectile function.
Let’s consider actual examples described in research papers. According to the study by K. Rao et al. (Zhonghua Nan Ke Xue, 2006), hyperlipidemia can lead to impaired erection by adversely affecting endothelial cells, smooth muscles, peripheral nerves, etc. As stated by M. Nikoobakht et al. (The Journal of Urology, 2005), total cholesterol and particularly LDL have an impact on erectile function, so hyperlipidemia treatment matters for prevention of ED.
Statins and Erectile Dysfunction
Sometimes statins that are used to fight high cholesterol and work by reducing the effectiveness of the liver enzyme are considered drugs that can lead to male impotence. But new studies show the opposite, especially since statins do not affect the genital area. Due to inhibition of the hepatic enzyme, liver cells capture more low density lipoproteins (cholesterol) from the bloodstream. Cholesterol is converted into bile salts and excreted naturally. So recent experiments showed that men with erectile dysfunction who took statins observed improvement in sexual function and of course, the main result, that is, a decrease in cholesterol, was also achieved.