Though there are several definitions of obesity, one of the most widely accepted ones is based on body mass index (BMI).
Specifically, those with a BMI of 30 or greater are considered obese. People with a BMI between 25 and 30 are considered overweight, but not obese. Many health problems are more prevalent in obese people, including well known conditions like high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, and type 2 diabetes. Excessive weight can also cause normal bodily movement, like walking, to overly stress the joints and lead to osteoarthritis.
Many other health consequences of obesity are less obvious. For example, obese people are more prone to having migraine headaches. There appears to be a link between obesity and cancer, though researchers have not identified many of the specific factors that connect the two. Infertility is more common in obese women, and their babies are more likely to be born at a low birth weight. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that women with BMI greater than 35 had an increased chance of delivering prematurely, and premature birth is a leading cause of infant mortality and disability.
In men, obesity often goes along with poorer erection health and less satisfying sex. Many of the conditions associated with obesity, like high cholesterol levels, poor cardiac health, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes are by themselves associated with erection problems, even in men who are not overweight or obese. Lifestyle choices like smoking also work against good erection health, and many men can improve erection function through lifestyle changes alone.
Hormonal Consequences of Obesity
When a person experiences a significant increase in weight, levels of several hormones fluctuate. In men, a chemical called sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) increases, causing a drop in testosterone levels, and lower testosterone levels affect sex drive as well as erection health. Other consequences of obesity, including high cholesterol, also influence erection quality. In fact, many physicians consider erection problems to be an indicator of possible cardiovascular disease, particularly in younger men.
Obesity, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes are three leading conditions that negatively affect erection health. Unfortunately, men who take nitrates to treat coronary artery disease are not candidates to take leading drugs like Viagra for treating erection problems. The good news is that weight loss is associated with improvements in cardiovascular health and diabetes, and often improves erection health as well.
Psychological Effects of Obesity on Sex Drive
There is no denying the negative psychological and social effects of obesity. Not only are obese people more prone to socially isolate themselves, they may be the objects of bullying or verbal abuse while simply trying to go about their lives at work, when dealing with household business, or even at the gym. When weight problems affect self-confidence, sex drive can plummet, as can performance anxiety. For men, the end result can be unsatisfactory erection health.
While erection problems can often be traced to physical conditions that prevent adequate blood flow to the penis, psychological factors often complicate matters further. A man may feel “inadequate” or as if he has failed when he’s unable to achieve or maintain an erection, and this can lead to performance anxiety. Performance anxiety can affect subsequent attempts at sex, causing an unfortunate downward spiral of erection problems, increased performance anxiety, and further erection problems. Weight loss alone can improve erection health, and obese men who don’t have cardiovascular problems are often candidates for taking drugs that improve erectile function, such as Viagra, Levitra, and Cialis.
Lifestyle Changes, Weight Loss, and Better Erection Health
The American Medical Association (AMA) now classifies obesity as a disease, and recommends a treatment plan that begins with identifying a person’s specific health risks and developing a lifestyle intervention to help the patient lose excess weight. In an ideal world, lifestyle changes alone would always be successful, but physicians may also prescribe weight loss drugs like Xenical, and in people with severe obesity, they may refer the patient to a bariatric surgeon for surgical treatment.
People who are able to lose excess weight and maintain it through lifestyle changes like adopting a healthier, lower calorie diet and regular cardiovascular exercise tend to notice many other positive changes that go along with a slimmer body. They often have more energy, lower their cholesterol levels, bring down high blood pressure, and may be able to manage blood glucose levels more effectively. Improved erection health is often a benefit of lifestyle changes that reduce weight.
What Erection Health Says About Overall Health
Over the past decade, as physicians have started addressing erection health problems with drugs like Viagra, Levitra, and Cialis, they have learned more about how erection health reflects overall health. For example, if a younger man in his 30s complains of erection problems, the doctor may choose to order cardiovascular tests, because poor erection health is often associated with decreased cardiovascular health. Diabetes is another condition that often goes along with erection problems, and when diabetes is diagnosed in a man with erection problems, addressing blood glucose issues often results in improved erection health, whether or not drugs are prescribed for erectile problems.
Today’s Treatment Options for Better Erection Health
Lifestyle choices like regular cardio training, giving up smoking, curbing alcohol use, and adopting a healthier diet can make a positive difference in erection health. However, in some men, it may not be enough to make sex satisfying. The so-called PDE-5 inhibitors including Viagra, Levitra, and Cialis can often make a difference, allowing men to achieve and maintain erections sufficient for sexual satisfaction.
Before these drugs were introduced, erectile health was often thought to be related to psychological health. In some men, there is a very real psychological component to erection problems, but in many cases it’s the actual vascular system of the sex organs that needs to be addressed. No longer do men have to rely on cumbersome and painful treatments for erection problems like vacuum pumps, injections, and surgery to overcome erectile problems.
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