If you struggle to get it up, blame your blood.
Dr Florence Comite, an endocrinologist from Brooklyn, New York, says the flow, consistency and content of someone’s blood plays a crucial role in their sex life.
Having too much sugar, cholesterol and iron in the bloodstream can narrow vessels, making it harder for blood to reach the penis or vagina.
In men, this can make erections difficult or inconsistent, but both sexes can experience lulls in libido as a result.
High blood pressure can also lower levels of nitric oxide, a chemical that helps smooth muscles relax, making an orgasm more difficult.
The good news, Dr Comite says, is that most of blood-related bedroom problems are reversible with some simple diet changes.
Excess iron — which is found in red meat — can lead to erectile dysfunction and loss of sex drive in men and absence of the menstrual cycle in women, a sign to skip the steak on your next date night.
High blood sugar levels – which occur when a person eats sweet treats like ice cream and candy – damage nerves and blood vessels, while thickening the blood and restricting its ability to travel to the penis to form an erection.
A person suffering from high cholesterol may have plaque build-up within their blood stream, which can also restrict blood flow.
Changing a person’s diet to include more vitamins and minerals that are good for sex – while avoiding foods that cause the development of ‘bad blood’ could be a boon for some, she says.
Eating foods high in zinc – like beans -, flavanoids – like many berries -, and vitamin B6 – salmon and tuna -, can help boost a person’s sex drive as the foods help a person maintain healthier blood and boost libido.
‘There are chemicals in the bloodstream – enzymes, cholesterol, sugar, iron – that can stop the way we function sexually and interfere with our interest in sex,’ Dr Cormite explains.
‘Figuring out what’s going on in your bloodstream… you can look at the interference it has with your sex life.’
A person can learn if their levels of iron, blood glucose of cholesterol are too high with a simple blood test.
The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) estimated that 30 million men suffer from erectile dysfunction.
Dr Florence Comite (pictured), an endocrinologist from Brooklyn, New York, warns that bad blood contents can damage a person’s ability to perform in a bedroom
Many cases are tied to obesity, smoking, mental health issues like anxiety, and loss in testosterone and libido as a man ages.
The institute also warns that while many men think it is not a typical part of the aging process – a falsehood many men believe causing them to not seek treatment.
Dr Cormite notes that while blood itself can not be ‘bad’, the contents in a person’s blood could make it less healthy.
High blood sugar, for example, is known to cause issues for a person in the bedroom.
While high glucose levels are immediately tied to diabetes by many, pre-diabetics suffer from increased blood sugar as well.
Type 2 diabetes forms when a person’s blood becomes resistant to the insulin produced by their pancreases -usually as a result of poor diet and exercise habits.
Type 1 diabetes is a condition that forms from birth, where a person’s pancreas either does not produce any insulin – or not enough – to regulate sugar in the blood.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that around 30 million Americans are diabetic, and 90 million are suffering from pre-diabetes.
The NIDDK warns that high blood glucose levels can damage vessels and nerves.
‘Poorly-controlled blood glucose can impact sexual performance by damaging small blood vessels and nerves,’ Dr Cormite says.
‘Damage to nerves that control sexual stimulation and response can impede a man’s or a woman’s libido or orgasm or the ability to achieve an erection firm enough for sexual intercourse in men.’
This can especially cause problems for men, as it makes it harder for enough blood to reach the penis for it to maintain erection.
The CDC reports that a man with diabetes is three times as likely to suffer from erectile dysfunction.
Regularly eating sweets like ice cream and candy or drinking sugary sodas greatly increases a person’s diabetes risk.
A man suffering from high cholesterol could suffer from issues maintaining an erection as well.
WHAT IS LOSS OF LIBIDO?
Loss of libido is a reduced sex drive.
Past research suggests it affects nearly half of all women at some point in their lives.
It is often linked to relationship issues, stress or tiredness, but could also indicate an underlying health problem.
Sex drives vary person-to-person with no libido being ‘normal’, however, if it is affecting your relationship, it may be worth seeking help from a GP or psychosexual therapist.
- Relationship problems – such as becoming overly familiar with your partner, poor communication or trust issues
- Sexual problems – including erectile dysfunction or vaginal dryness
- Stress, anxiety or depression
- Age – sex hormones fall during the menopause. Low libido can also occur due to the side effects of medication or mobility problems
- Pregnancy and breastfeeding – can cause changes in hormone levels, exhaustion or altered priorities as people focus on their child
- Underlying health issues – such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes
- Medication – including antidepressants and drugs for high blood pressure
- Alcohol and drugs
Source: NHS Choices
The Boston Medical Group warns that having too much LDL – often called ‘bad cholesterol’ – can lead to plaque build up in the bloodstream.
As a result, blood will have trouble traveling to the penis of a man that is aroused and harm his ability to form and maintain an erection.
Having high cholesterol also affects the production of testosterone, which sends sexual stimulation signals across the body.
Men with lower testosterone levels also have lower libido, also harming a man’s ability to keep an erection during sex.
‘Avoid all fried foods that are high in saturated fats and trans fatty acids; think french fries, buffalo wings, onion rings, and other fried snacks,’ Dr Cormite says, warning that blood pressure should be monitored as well.
While iron is considered to be a part of a healthy diet by many nutritionists and dieticians, and over-abundance of it can be problematic as well.
A person who eats too much iron can form a condition called hemochromatosis, where they store excess deposits of the mineral in their blood.
The condition is rare, with Johns Hopkins University estimates that one-in-300 Americans suffer from the condition, though is generally goes undiagnosed.
Health officials recommend around eight milligrams of iron each day.
People suffering from hemochromatosis will have lower libido, and have issues in bedroom as a result.
Foods like red meat, spinach and raisins are high in iron. While they are ok in moderation, overeating them could cause a person issues long-term.
These issues are solvable with proper diet and by being conscious of a person’s body, and their family history.
‘If diabetes or heart disease runs in your family, you can expect to have troubles in your sex life,’ she says.
There are also foods a person could add to their diet to boost their performance in the bedroom.
The element zinc helps boost the production of testosterone and prolactin – boosting sex drive and making orgasm easier to achieve.
A 2014 study found that daily supplements that included zinc could even help prevent premature ejaculation.
Foods like beans, oysters, nuts and whole grains are excellent sources of zinc.
A diet that is heavy in flavonoids, which are found in many common berries, have been linked to a significant reduction in erectile dysfunction as well – especially among younger men.
Vitamin B6 – found in seafood like salmon and tuna – is known to boost libido.
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