Metabolic disease or metabolic syndrome refers to a group of risk factors that increase your chances of developing obesity, diabetes, and coronary heart disease (CHD). Because obesity, diabetes, and CHD are all known to cause erectile dysfunction, it goes without saying that having metabolic syndrome may increase your risk of sexual dysfunction as well. There are many studies that found a link between sexual dysfunction and metabolic disease and that offer some explanations how metabolic disease actual contributes to the development of sexual health problems. In this article, we explain how exactly metabolic disease may impact your sex life.
About Metabolic Disease
Metabolic disease, also known as metabolic syndrome, is not a disease in itself but rather a cluster of different conditions that can significantly increase your chances of developing diseases such as diabetes and obesity. To be diagnosed with metabolic disease, you need to have at least three of the metabolic risk factors associated with metabolic disease. Some of these risk factors are:
- Abdominal obesity (having excess fat in the abdominal area).
- Dyslipidemia (high triglyceride levels, low HDL levels).
- High blood sugar (an early sign of diabetes).
- High blood pressure.
Metabolic disease is closely linked to obesity, inadequate physical activity, and insulin resistance. The high prevalence of obesity in countries like the United States (34,9% according to the CDC) means that the prevalence of metabolic syndrome in the general population is high. This also means thereis also a rise in sexual dysfunction in both men and women which is associated with poor quality of life.
Metabolic Disease and Sexual Dysfunction
Sexual dysfunction happens due to a wide range health-related and psychological factors. Some of these factors that may cause sexual health problems in both men and women are a direct result of diabetes, obesity, and coronary heart disease. Common sexual problems include erectile dysfunction in men which refers to problems with achieving and maintaining an erection and female sexual dysfunction (FSD) which includes multiple disorders desire, arousal, pain during intercourse, and ability to achieve an orgasm. Most studies on the link between metabolic disease and sexual dysfunction focused on male sexual dysfunction despite the fact that sexual dysfunction is much more prevalent in women.
How Metabolic Syndrome causes Sexual Health Problems
The presence of different factors associated with metabolic disease such as atherosclerosis and diabetes means can affect your body’s sexual response reflexes. For instance, having CHD is associated with an increased production of free radicals that are known to decrease nitric oxide (NO) levels in the blood. Nitric oxide is a vasodilator that also causes the relaxation of smooth muscles which is important for achieving and maintaining an erection. Diabetes can also lead to sexual dysfunction by causing damage to the nerves and blood vessels. The body’s response to sexual stimuli is partially controlled by the autonomous nerve signals that increase blood flow to the genitals as explained in an article by the National Institute of Health (NIH). Any damage to these systems may cause problems with sexual functioning in both men and women. As far as obesity is concerned, obesity in itself does not directly cause sexual health problems. Instead, obesity is associated with higher levels of inflammation in the body which increases the risk of atherosclerosis, diabetes, dyslipidemia, and hypertension which we already know can lead to sexual dysfunction.
Can Sexual Dysfunction caused by Metabolic Disease be Cured?
Epidemiological studies show that simple lifestyle changes such as weight loss and exercising significantly reduces the development of sexual dysfunction. According to a study published in the International Journal of Impotence Research, one-third of men with erectile dysfunction can regain their healthy levels of sexual activity after two years of weight loss and exercising. This is because healthy lifestyle choices can reduce the prevalence of both obesity and metabolic syndrome and help people regain their sexual functioning. Having a healthy and active sex life is important for one’s overall emotional and psychological well-being. Furthermore, sex constitutes a great part of a happy married life which is exactly why it is important to address any problems with sexual functioning that may be a result of metabolic disease.
Metabolic syndrome may be the leading cause of sexual dysfunction in both men and women worldwide. Sexual dysfunction is a common disorder affecting both men and women. Conditions that are tightly linked to metabolic syndrome such as diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease can directly cause sexual health problems by affecting nervous system functioning and circulation all of which are important for normal sexual functioning. Most of the studies on the role of metabolic syndrome in sexual health problems have focused on male sexual problems such as erectile dysfunction. However, women are also at risk of developing sexual functioning problems as a result of metabolic disease. One way to treat sexual dysfunction caused by metabolic disease is highly treatable with simple lifestyle modifications such as dietary changes and exercising.