Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a prevalent issue for middle aged and older men, affecting about 50% of all men over 40. It is not always necessarily linked to age however, and ED can happen to men of a younger age. With men under the age of 40, persistent symptoms of ED tend to be down to general health, psychological reasons like performance anxiety, or physical conditions or injuries.
It is completely normal to occasionally experience erectile dysfunction and it is only worth contacting a medical professional if you feel it is an ongoing issue that is affecting your sex life. Many transient factors may have an effect on your ability to achieve an erection. One of these factors is dehydration.
Water is essential in almost all bodily processes, which is why it is so essential to our health. It’s absence in some of the processes behind erections can create issues in performance. Here’s why.
Dehydration can cause ED in multiple ways. Dehydration inhibits blood flow, which is crucial for maintaining an erection. When hydration levels in your body fall, you begin to produce more of the enzyme angiotensin II.
Among other things, angiotensin II’s main effects on the body are:
- Narrowed blood vessels (vasoconstriction).
- Rise in blood pressure.
- Stimulation of nerves which create feelings of thirst and salt craving.
- Increases water reabsorption and retention in the kidneys.
This increase in angiotensin II can result in reduced blood flow to the penis, making it challenging to achieve and maintain an erection.
Dehydration also affects hormone balance. The body needs fluid to produce hormones, and dehydration can lead to hormonal imbalances. This can result in a drop in testosterone levels, the primary male sex hormone, which plays a crucial role in sexual function.
Low testosterone levels can increase arousal thresholds and reduce libido, meaning your body is less likely to signal to your penis that it needs to produce an erection.
Another important factor which should not be overlooked is that dehydration reduces energy levels. When the body is dehydrated it becomes fatigued, making sexual performance more challenging.
Additionally, dehydration can also cause headaches, dizziness, and other symptoms that can further affect sexual performance.
Staying hydrated is crucial to ensure that your body has enough fluid to function properly. Drinking enough water, particularly in the heat or after strenuous exercise, and eating foods high in water content can help prevent dehydration.
If you think dehydration is regularly causing ED, it might be a sign that your body is telling you you need to regularly drink more water. It also may have nothing to do with hydration and may be caused by an underlying physical condition, as 90% of ED cases are. Either way, if you are concerned about your sexual health you should speak to your GP.