The penis is a master unto itself.


Getting an erection is a complex biological process but it is anything but independent. So many things have to go right for men to achieve a strong erection that it is a wonder it happens at all. For starters, a man’s hormones must be released on demand (almost instantly), his arteries need to carry 6 times the normal amount of blood to the penis with perfect efficiency, his nervous system’s commands must be transmitted without a hitch, and his mind must be working in perfect harmony with his body. That’s a lot to ask. If a man has difficulty getting the kind of erection he and his partner expect, it may be because a problem is brewing and Erectile Dysfunction (ED) is the first sign.

Paying more attention to the strength of your erection could save your life. Because the blood vessels of the penis are small compared to the job they have to do, serious underlying conditions often manifest themselves with ED first. According to “The Artery Size Hypothesis” those small vessels can reveal changes before slightly larger arteries. That’s why changes to the tiny vessels in the penis are a warning sign that heart disease may be on the horizon.

Men are fortunate that these tiny vessels are responsible for something as visible as an engorged penis. If a failing erection is like the check engine light going off in a car then the body has chosen the perfect place to put that sign so it will not be missed.

Eight Conditions are associated with both ED and heart disease: diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, smoking, a family history of heart disease, age (ED under age 70, and especially under age 50), obesity, and depression. Therefore, ED could be an early indication of high cholesterol, diabetes, hypertension, depression, sleep disorders, or hormonal imbalances.

A study in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA.2005;294(23):2996-3002) found that erectile dysfunction was a significant predictor of heart disease. In a landmark study, 4247 men over the age of 55 who did not have erectile dysfunction (ED) were followed for five years. They were evaluated every three months for the development of erectile dysfunction (ED) and heart disease. 2420 men (57%) reported developing erectile dysfunction within 5 years. Over a follow up period of five years, 11% of the men who developed erectile dysfunction (ED) experienced a cardiac event. It was a much greater percentage than men in the study who did not develop ED. About 40% of people in the US die from cardiovascular disease, and nearly 50% of the deaths due to coronary heart disease happen in men who never had a warning like chest pain or shortness of breath. The development of erectile dysfunction is a warning for some men that heart disease is on the horizon.

The authors warned, “It is estimated that more than 600 000 men aged 40 to 69 years in the United States develop erectile dysfunction annually. Our data suggest that the older men in this group have about a 2-fold greater risk of cardiovascular disease than men without erectile dysfunction. With 70% to 89% of sudden cardiac deaths occurring in men and with many men not having regular physical examinations, this analysis suggests that the initial presentation of a man with erectile dysfunction should prompt the evaluating physician to screen for standard cardiovascular risk factors and, as appropriate, initiate cardioprotective interventions.”

Now you know why we strongly recommend blood tests, education, and developing a sound working relationship with all your healthcare providers.

Lastly, there are many reasons men develop ED and many are easily reversible. Medications, lack of sleep, poor exercise habits, smoking, excess alcohol, and even prolonged bike riding can contribute to ED (erectile dysfunction), to name just a few. So, if you or your partner notice a change, it is great that medication can improve the symptom, but it is vital all the possible reasons for ED be considered..