Erectile dysfunction is sometimes caused by unhealthy behaviors or conditions, such as tobacco use, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, or obesity.
Smoking and ED
Cigarette smoking causes the blood vessels to constrict, which inhibits blood flow to the penis. Smoking also causes atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). Because the arteries to the penis are so small, they can easily become clogged, further reducing blood flow to the penis.
Alcohol Abuse and ED
Alcohol dilates the blood vessels, which is good for getting an erection, but not good for keeping one. Once you’ve achieved an erection, the blood vessels need to constrict in order for the penis to stay erect. Alcohol keeps the blood vessels open, so the blood flows back out as easily as it flowed in. Long-term alcohol abuse can also interfere with testosterone production and damage the blood vessels to the penis.
Drug Abuse and ED
Recreational drugs, such as amphetamines, marijuana, cocaine, and oxycontin can damage the blood vessels to the penis, causing erectile dysfunction. Recreational use of erectile dysfunction drugs (Viagra, Cialis, Levitra) may lead to psychological dependence on those drugs, which can result in impotence.
Obesity and ED
Obesity can lower testosterone levels, and low testosterone is a known cause of erectile dysfunction. People who are obese are also likely have or develop other erectile dysfunction risk factors, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and heart disease.
For more information on the lifstyle issues that cause ED, contact Dr. Leroy Jones, Board Certified Urologist in of San Antonio.