A Comprehensive Understanding of How These Ailments Are Connected
In speaking with Dr. Petar Bajic about the results of the Cleveland Clinic’s MENtion It campaign, we discussed that erectile dysfunction can be a warning sign of a more serious health condition. I recently connected with Apex Health Center, the official provider of the AWT Protocol in the Houston ED clinic. They shared the following piece all about how some lesser known impacts of COVID may have an impact on ED.
When you think of COVID-19, the first thing that comes to mind is likely not erectile dysfunction. You may think about pneumonia, cytokine storms, quarantining, and all sorts of other more obviously-related issues. However, erectile dysfunction is a symptom, not a disease. That means that many conditions have the ability to cause or contribute to ED, and why should COVID-19 be any different?
In fact, COVID-19 is such bad news that we shouldn’t be surprised at all the negative side effects it can have, even if they don’t make the headlines. If you think about the range of risk factors for erectile dysfunction, including a variety of physical and mental health issues such as heart disease, diabetes, anxiety, and more, you will notice how a number of those risk factors are related to COVID-19, as well. Let’s look deeper at how COVID-19 can contribute to erectile dysfunction and what can be done about it.
COVID-19 was originally thought of as strictly a respiratory condition like the flu or pneumonia. However, as more people started getting seriously ill, a large enough percentage of those patients suffered cardiac arrest shortly after a terrible bout with COVID. This led doctors and researchers to consider the vascular effects COVID-19 was having on the body. A study by JAMA Cardiology on patients who had recovered from COVID showed that 78% of those patients had some form of heart abnormality, even patients who were not hospitalized with heart issues.
So what do heart issues have to do with erectile dysfunction? In order to achieve an erection, an influx of blood needs to pour into the penis. If the heart is experiencing trouble, it may not be able to pump enough blood for a man to have or maintain an erection, causing erectile dysfunction. In fact, erectile dysfunction itself may be a warning sign for heart disease. If a person has had COVID and then experiences erectile dysfunction as a new symptom, it’s important to visit your doctor and possibly get a heart work-up to make sure your heart is working as it should.
During the COVID-19 era, symptoms of anxiety and depression have skyrocketed and access to mental health professionals has been disrupted. This is a recipe for even more mental health crises for people experiencing fear, anxiety over their jobs, worry about loved ones, depression, and other increased or exacerbated mental health issues. Additionally, having COVID itself has been known to cause symptoms of anxiety.
Anxiety and depression are also risk factors for erectile dysfunction. Anxiety is known to have physical effects on the body such as elevated heart rate and blood pressure, which can, in turn, affect a man’s performance in bed. Performance anxiety in specific often leads to an inability to achieve an erection. In a similar vein, depression, caused by a chemical imbalance, can disrupt a man’s sexual desire and function.
Unique to the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, many couples are working from home and are together round the clock, 24/7. Though this may sound nice initially, it is quickly taking its toll. In fact, divorce rates have risen during the COVID lockdown to about 34% higher than they were pre-pandemic, especially amongst newly-married couples. This makes sense, as the saying “absence makes the heart grow fonder” does have truth to it; people are not meant to be together every second of the day for months on end. It should be no surprise, then, that even amongst couples who are sticking together, many are experiencing a lull in the romance and are not particularly looking for sexual intimacy as frequently as they would have been back when life was normal. That disinterest and relationship stress can definitely contribute to erectile dysfunction.
Unfortunately, during the strict lockdown, non-emergency surgeries were cancelled, including penile implants and other surgeries for those suffering from Peyronie’s Disease and erectile dysfunction. That means that many men who were waiting for their surgical date or getting ready to schedule a surgery had to wait an indefinite amount of time before their life-disrupting issue could be properly dealt with. This postponement of urological surgery served to increase anxiety, discomfort, and stress for erectile dysfunction patients and their loved ones.
During this difficult time, it is especially important to reach out to your doctor if you are experiencing any new symptoms, even if you are not sure they are related to your erectile dysfunction. If you are experiencing erectile dysfunction for the first time during the pandemic, you are not alone. Seek out an erectile dysfunction clinic such as Apex Health Center to help you navigate this symptom and discover what is the underlying issue so that you can take care of your health.
Thank you to this post’s sponsor, Apex Health Center, for sharing an informative piece on what could be considered a hard topic to talk about… pun very much intended.
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