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This common dental condition could be impacting your sex life

Inflammation in one part of the body, such as the mouth in this instance, can spread via chemical messengers in the blood and impact other areas.

Photo by Cyrus Crossan from Unsplash.com

Scientists have revealed that there is a correlation between gum disease and Erectile Dysfunction (ED) with new research linking the two conditions.

Gum disease refers to the inflammation of soft tissue – causing gums to become swollen, sore or infected. Gum disease shares common risk factors with ED such as smoking, diabetes and cardiac diseases, but the research has found that inflammation could be the main culprit.

Inflammation in one part of the body, such as the mouth in this instance, can spread via chemical messengers in the blood and impact other areas.

Dr Earim Chaudry, Medical Director at men’s health platform Manual welcomed the research, stating: “It’s incredibly important to raise awareness on the possible connection between the two conditions, especially as they are both so common.

“The importance of oral health should be highlighted as a possible preventive solution for ED and patients should be advised to regularly visit a dentist to remove plaque build-up and help prevent gum disease.”

In light of the research, Dr Chaudry provides additional factors that could be contributing to erectile dysfunction, along with professional advice on how to reduce the risk:

1. Diabetes

A previous study shows that diabetes (especially type 2) is more common in males than females. Around 75% of men suffering from diabetes will experience erectile problems over the course of their lifetime. 

Maintaining a healthy weight through a balanced diet and regular exercise can help delay the start of diabetes. A healthy weight also helps reduce inflammation, increase testosterone and increase self-esteem, which all contribute to preventing ED. 

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2. Smoking

In the past, the tobacco industry would use seductive techniques to advertise their products as a way of increasing the appeal to a mass audience, but the reality is that smoking is far from sexy.

Smoking is a significant risk factor of erectile dysfunction for men under the age of 40. Smoking affects blood circulation to certain parts of the body including the genitals, making it tougher to get and keep an erection.

Quitting smoking can be a huge step towards reducing the risk of ED as blood circulation begins to improve within 2 to 12 weeks. There are many health benefits to giving up smoking, including improved sexual function.

3. Alcohol intake

Many of us enjoy a drink as a way to de-stress – but it’s important to remember that alcohol is a depressant if consumed in large quantities. Depression is one of the leading causes of ED and the likelihood of the effect increases as you get older. Alcohol can also decrease blood flow, making it harder to achieve an erection when intoxicated.

You don’t have to cut alcohol out of your life completely – moderation is key. Be aware of how much you are consuming and take steps to limit your intake as you get older. 

4. Mental health

Around 20% of ED cases are caused by psychological factors such as stress, anxiety and depression. Effects and symptoms are the same as physical ED, however, blood flood is not the root of the problem.

Instead, psychological ED can be caused by a range of emotional, cognitive, or social causes and conditions. It’s important to talk to your partner or seek professional help if you are affected by psychological ED instead of keeping things to yourself. 

ED medications are available which can help overcome performance anxiety and help boost your confidence. 

5. Exercise

Regular exercise improves blood flow and circulation, which means it’s an important way to help prevent ED. Exercise also helps increase your energy, lowers blood pressure, reduces stress and helps you sleep better.

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Exercising at a moderate to high intensity for 40 minutes, up to four times a week can help improve your sexual function. This can include the gym, walking, swimming or cycling.

You can also focus on exercises that strengthen the pelvic floor muscles as these will help sustain blood flow. Pelvic floor exercises are commonly known as ‘kegel’ exercises. Try both slow kegels and fast kegels regularly as these will contribute to the prevention of ED.

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