The link between Sexual Dysfunction and Heart Disease
More than 30% of women experience some sort of sexual dysfunction. As women age, they lose estrogen which can cut off supply of Nitric Oxide (NO) that is necessary for our sexual health. NO insufficiency can often be related to sexual dysfunction in both men and women! What is NO? NO is actually a gas that has many roles in our body. But one role most imperative, is the role in our cardiovascular system.
NO is responsible for many functions of the body including vasodilation, and subsequently, blood circulation. In women this directly affects blood flow to the clitoris, vagina and vulva. Limitations of NO will decrease stimulation to these parts causing an inability or difficulty in achieving orgasm. This disorder can also cause pain with intercourse. Additionally, low circulation to these parts will cause dryness and vaginal atrophy.
Sexual disorders in men have been researched for many years. Viagra, Cialis and other erection enhancement drugs act by inhibiting phosphodiesterase. Phosphodiesterase inhibitors have been studied to increase certain signals to enhance the relaxation of smooth muscles in the penis which gives men the erection needed to have intercourse.
Erectile Dysfunction is a risk factor for Heart Disease
When erectile dysfunction (ED) is an issue, health care practitioners must think of what else is going on the body. ED most often indicates there is decreased blood flow to the area of the penis that is responsible for erection. If there is a decrease in blood flow to the penis, then there is a decrease in blood flow to other areas, like our vital heart. If NO is responsible for vasodilation and circulation then we need to dig deeper and look at the bigger picture.
Our circulation is like a network of freeways and tunnels that require our blood cells to move freely to get to tissues and vital organs. It is the health care practitioners responsibility to do their due diligence and free up the traffic in the blood vessels to increase circulation. Men, knowing that ED is commonly associated with heart disease, please do not accept treatments from your health care practitioner if they just write a prescription for Viagra, Cialis or other erection enhancement drugs. Instead, consult a health care practitioner that treats the big picture and has the intention of finding the underlying cause. Often a health care practitioner will provide supplements that can increase NO production, but ultimately they do not address the root cause of the problem.
Achieving optimal sexual function is a complex process that involves our neurovascular system which receives input from our brain that is then turned on and off by our hormones. NO is responsible for vasodilation and a neurotransmitter process which is in charge of the innervation of erectile tissue in both men and women. The control of circulation is HUGE for sexual health and cannot be optimized without sufficient or optimal NO.
How do we get more Nitric Oxide?
How do we increase it NO when low? One fundamental approach I take in achieving this is by optimizing hormone health. Estrogen is a major factor in the production of NO, both men and women need hormone balance to produce NO. If heart disease is at the top of killers for women, then why are some not replacing estrogen? And in men, why are some practitioners not checking these numbers?
Yes, there are many supplements that can boost NO but this does not addressing the root cause.
In conclusion, optimal NO is crucial for optimal sexual health. Because there is a direct correlation between ED and cardiovascular disease, healthcare practitioners must be compelled to explore this when treating ED or other sexual dysfunctions. Additionally, balancing hormones can almost always assure that NO will be sufficient to maintain our sexual and heart health. In conclusion, it is essential to identify the root cause of what is precipitating the sexual dysfunction.