Can eating too much sugar, fat cause erectile dysfunction?

Sex hormones, healthy blood sugar, and insulin balance are more intimately linked than you might think. In this report by Sade Oguntola, experts say that certain dietary choices can certainly increase the risk of men getting erectile dysfunction.


It is common to hear men caution each other to avoid intake of sugar because it can screw their sex drive. Well, there may be basis for this after all. A diet low in sugar and fat overtime may improve blood flow throughout the entire body, including the penis.

Fertility and erectile function are products of the overall health. One sugary soda or fatty meal here and there isn’t a problem. It’s an issue when taking high-fat or sugary food or drinks becomes a regular pattern.

Erectile dysfunction (ED), also called impotence, is not being able to get and maintain an erection for long enough to have sexual intercourse. It can occur for many reasons. Sometimes it is as simple as the side effect of a particular medication. But for roughly 75 per cent of men, the cause is more complex.

Unfortunately, popping a pill for erectile dysfunction that the never-ending advertisements suggest also does not guarantee a great sex life for men dealing with this challenging problem.

But how, exactly, is diet linked to sexual health? Dr Augustine Takure, a consultant urologist, University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, Oyo State, said erection is an energy-dependent activity and it has to do with blood flow.

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“So, if there is too much sugar in a man’s blood due to diabetes or the narrowing of blood flow to the male organ, the male organ will not function maximally due to inadequate blood flow. So, anything that causes narrowing of vessels, including a high blood cholesterol level, will eventually affect erectile function.”

Dr Takure, however, said that eating too much sugar would not cause poor libido.

According to him, “it does not lead to loss of libido, Libido is a man’s desire to want to have sex, and this has to do with hormones. The male hormone is what determines libido.”

He declared that high caloric diet, be in high on sugar or fat, can lead to obesity, adding, “Obesity is not good for every system of the body, including the reproductive system. When you go fat, your penis will be short. When the penis is short, you will not enjoy sex.”

Dr Temilola Akande, a diabetes expert at the UCH, Ibadan, said although intake of diet rich in sugar or fat may not cause erectile dysfunction, diabetes can affect the nerves and blood vessels in the body and as such can cause erectile dysfunction in men with poor blood sugar control.

“The effect of consistently poor dietary choices is something that you feel years after; it is not that if you take a portion of sugar or fat, it will lead to it. It will add up.”

Dr Akande said aside from consistently poor diet being a preventable cause of erectile dsyfunction, other causes of erectile dsyfunction include chronic liver disease, complications of enlarged prostate, surgery side effects of medications, heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and Parkinson’s disease.

However, Professor Femi Fasanmade, a diabetes expert at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Lagos warned that intake of excess fat or sugar is not healthy.

According to Professor Fasanmade, “too much fat, alcohol or sugar can lead to all the lifestyle diseases from hypertension, diabetes, erectile dsyfunction to a heart attack. So, it is something men should be wary of doing.”

Fasanmade said excess intake of sugar cannot cause pile, that some men assumed can also cause erectile dysfunction, adding, “It is not that if a man takes sugar he will have erectile dsyfunction; it is not like that.”

The expert warned also that men with erectile dsyfunction should change their lifestyle because losing weight with moderate physical activity is good strategy for avoiding or fixing the problem.

Eating the recommended amount of fruits, vegetables and whole-grain products can provide a reduced risk of erectile dysfunction.

It’s important to note that erectile dysfunction could possibly be a sign of an underlying condition or health issue. If men continue to get erectile dysfunction after making changes to their diet, they need to seek medical attention who will offer the best available treatment.

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