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Exercise Regularly But Keep It ED Safe

February 13, 2024

Playing sports and living an active life can be a great way to stay fit and manage stress, so men at all ages need to engage in routine exercise for their well-being. But, excessive or exhaustive physical activities can have negative side effects. No matter what your choice of activities, you should always avoid repetitive shock or sports that place above-average pressure on an unprotected scrotum.

Erectile dysfunction is the inability to achieve or maintain an erection firm enough for sexual intercourse. ED is an extremely common men's health issue and approximately one out of every ten men experience erectile issues at some point in their lives. Since sexuality is important for a man’s physical and mental health, any problem that prevents satisfactory sexual activity needs a prompt professional diagnosis.

A scholarly review suggests that 160 minutes of exercise per week for six months can help improve erectile problems in a majority of men diagnosed with ED caused by physical inactivity, obesity, hypertension, metabolic syndrome, or cardiovascular diseases. A well-rounded regimen that delivers a combination of endurance and resistance can deliver solid health benefits for men at any age. Walking and swimming are safe exercises even for someone who is not in good shape.

Penile erection is a hemodynamic process. It involves an increase in arterial blood flow to the penis and restricted venous outflow. Whereas ED can be caused by inadequate vascular function (penile angina), it may also be directly related to current or ongoing physical injuries to the scrotum. Although physical activities can potentially decrease a man’s risk for ED, certain sports activities have a higher risk for genital trauma.

Organic causes of male genital etiologies...

Male impotence can be caused by numerous physiological, psychological, or physical abnormalities that can interfere with a man’s ability to obtain or sustain an erection firm enough for penetrative sex. Organic classifications of erectile dysfunction can be subdivided into three groups:

Vasculogenic etiologies are related to the blood flow to the penis. These are the most common and include underlying problems like heart disease, diabetes, liver disease, and other medical conditions that cause inadequate arterial inflow and corpora-venous occlusion due to tunica plaque.

Neurogenic etiologies belong to a traditional classification where erectile impairment is due to neurologic compromise, such as peripheral neuropathy or damage to the dorsal penile nerve that leads to an erection. Common causes include stroke, spinal cord damage, and pelvic injuries.

Hormonal etiologies can happen when a man has too much or too little of one or more hormones. Endocrine-related disorders, such as hypothyroidism or hypogonadism, can decrease functional activity making it more difficult for a man to achieve a satisfactory erection.

Idiopathic (non-organic) erectile dysfunction occurs without a clear physiological cause. This form of sexual dysfunction is most often situational in nature and related to psychogenic causes like performance anxiety or past sexual trauma. If a man can get erections in other situations like during sleep or masturbation, it is likely a symptom of psychogenic ED.

Dangers of Intense Exercise or Overexertion

Adding vigorous-intensity aerobic exercises and moderate strength training to your daily routine can help reduce the risk of erectile dysfunction by improving your overall cardiovascular condition. However, intense sports or overexertion can potentially have a negative impact on sexual function and performance.

Since the penis and scrotum are not naturally protected by bones, issues with male sexual performance can occur with recreational activities like those discussed below:

  • Bicycling – Due to the prolonged compression of perineal arteries leading to chronic decreased penile perfusion, intense cycling is a major risk factor for erectile dysfunction. Almost 1 in 4 male cycling enthusiasts observed in a study on penile blood flow had reduced blood supply.
  • High-Intensity Sports – Triathletes participate in the three high-intensity sports modalities including swimming, running, and road cycling. When compared to other recreationally active men, these intense sports athletes had significantly lower levels of testosterone production.
  • Concussions – According to research conducted by Harvard Medical School, NFL football players who experienced concussions were more likely to suffer from low testosterone levels and erectile dysfunction. A condition that it is both common and treatable.
  • Inguinal Hernia – It is much more likely for men to experience problems with their sexual health if they do not properly treat an inguinal hernia. Any such bulge in groin region can make having and maintaining an erection or achieving an orgasm a painful sexual experience.

Health benefits of exercise depend on the total amount of exercise rather than its intensity, so aim for a moderate pace. If you are breathing too hard to carry on a conversation, then it is your sign to back off a little.

Schedule a Men’s Sexual Health Examination

Playing sports and living an active life are great ways to stay fit and manage stress. But it's important to protect your penis and testicles. If you are have any changes or problems with your private parts, you should schedule an examination with a men’s sexual health professional. Although it might feel a little uncomfortable, the exam shouldn't hurt. If you do feel any pain during the examination, let your provider know as it may be important.

You can start by seeing your family doctor or go directly to a men’s sexual health specialist. Dr. Earl Eye has practiced medicine for over four decades and is board certified in five medical specialties, including advanced training in age-management medicine. His current practice focuses almost exclusively on male patients by offering state-of-the-art comprehensive and individualized concierge health care to improve male sexual performance.

To diagnose any sexual health issues, you can expect the doctor to document your medical history, order urine tests and/or blood tests, and examine your penis and testicles to be sure everything looks normal. You will also be asked to describe the problems you are experiencing and will have ample opportunity to ask questions. Schedule your appointment today to determine what’s causing your erectile issues and let Dr. Eye help restore your sex life safely and effectively.

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