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How Does Stress and Anxiety Affect Erectile Dysfunction?

How does stress and anxiety affect erectile dysfunction.  In this article, we will look at some of the mechanisms involved with erectile dysfunction including stress, anxiety, and other physiological causes like nitric oxide.   We will look at how these things work together to create good erectile function and dysfunction. 

So If you are interested in the causes of erectile dysfunction, keep reading.

How Do Stress and Anxiety Affect Erectile Dysfunction

First we want to understand what is erectile dysfunction.  There are two main ways or manifestations of this issue.  Most people experience erectile dysfunction (ED) as inability to maintain an erection once one is achieved.  In some cases people can not get a full erection either.   This is also considered erectile dysfunction and typically a more severe situation.  The activity involved in this process is one that involves blood flow.  There's both psychological and physiological things that need to be appreciated with this process of erectile dysfunction.   

Stress and anxiety fundamentally change the activity in the nervous system shifting more to fight-or-flight activity.  With this shift several different things happen, most importantly a change in the blood flow.   During stress some areas of the body get more blood flow and some areas of the body get less blood flow.  This is congruent with the idea of fight-or-flight.  When we are in the classic fight-or-flight activity, the situation demands more blood flow to the muscles to engage in things like fighting or flighting.   So it makes sense that the blood flow is going to be pulled away from some areas and pushed more towards the muscles.   That extra blood may be needed for fight or flight activity.   

When you are under more stress and anxiety the same thing happens.  The nervous system will pull the blood away from the digestive tract, the genitalia, and other organs.  The body puts more  blood flow and circulation toward the muscles, for instance.   So psychological stress and anxiety directs nerves which then changes the blood flow in this manner.   This is how stress and anxiety affect erectile dysfunction. 

Another way to look at this is through the lens of the autonomic nervous system.  This contains the parasympathetic, rest and digest, and the sympathetic, which is fight or flight.   In order for males to get an erection, there has to be sufficient parasympathetic activity to produce and maintain that erection.  This is why it's common for erections to occur when they are sleeping as the body is in a more relaxed and calm state.  Since stress and anxiety can disrupt that parasympathetic activity thereby disrupting the blood flow, it can trigger erectile dysfunction.  When this happens the erectile dysfunction can create a psychological pattern as well.  The problem can get worse because you are worrying about if it's going to occur again.  This can almost become a self-fulfilling prophecy.   The more you worry about it, the more likely it is to occur because of the activity of the sympathetic nervous system on the genitalia areas.  Now that does not mean that everyone that has erectile dysfunction or ed has it due to psychological reasons or that your ED problem is all in your head.  It does mean though that there is a psychological component to erectile dysfunction that needs to be appreciated.  There is also a biochemical side to this as well. 



Biochemical Reasons for Erectile Dysfunction 

The biochemical process with erections mostly involves nitric oxide.  Nitric oxide is a potent vasodilator.  It dilates the arteries and allows for that blood to flow to the area, when it's not being restricted by the sympathetic activity. The problem with nitric oxide is the actual molecule of nitric oxide is used up very quickly and its presence is fleeting.   Many things can also interfere with nitric oxide production and utilization.  Because of the high interference,  most nitric oxide supplements are not very effective at increasing nitric oxide.  The molecule itself is used up very quickly and any increased production of nitric oxide is going to be short-lived. 

You will get more out of your efforts to improve erectile dysfunction  by maintaining healthy testosterone and androgen levels and improving blood sugar and antioxidant status.   These things will will encourage optimal nitric oxide oxide production and therefore blood flow to the genitalia.  This is because testosterone up regulates the production of nitric oxide.  Reducing blood sugar will also improve your body's overall antioxidant status.  When you have hyperglycemia, pre-diabetes, diabetes and the like, antioxidants are used to counter the oxidation from the high glucose.  

If you have normal blood sugar you can focus more on your overall antioxidant status through healthy lifestyle choices.  For instance, highly processed food products are likely o contain more free radicals and  reduce your nitric oxide production. 

That should give you a better understanding of how stress and anxiety affect erectile dysfunction.  If you have questions about the content in this article, please ask it in the comment section below.

If you want a customized plan on how to improve erectile function, click in the link below to get started. 

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