Contributed by- Dr. Pooja Chaudhary
Having a strained sex life, decreased libido or erectile dysfunction, wondering what could the reason be? Studies have shown that high cholesterol not only leads to heart diseases but can also have a significant effect on your sex life. High level of cholesterol causes reduced blood flow which has been linked with sexual disorders.
Rather, cholesterol levels play a part in our sex life, even long before we had one. The reason behind this is that cholesterol helps in the development of sex hormones.
- In women: Cholesterol aids in the production of estrogens and progesterone hormone.
- In men: Cholesterol spurs creation of testosterone.
Without the help of these hormones, development of certain physical traits associated with gender, like breasts for females or increased body hair for males will be difficult. These hormones are also important for reproduction.
HIGH CHOLESTEROL EFFECT ON MEN’S SEX LIFE
Effects of high cholesterol levels in men can have a negative impact on a man’s sexual life. In men, high cholesterol can damage sexual performance and also decreases libido. An intact arterial blood supply is essential for normal male erection, and it has been seen that high cholesterol levels can impair the normal artery blood flow. High cholesterol and erectile dysfunction are two health conditions that are linked together. This happens because:
- Blockages from atherosclerosis can develop in the arteries which are responsible for erection, which could diminish the blood flow.
- Arteries also respond to local hormones that regulate blood flow. Nitric oxide is one of the hormones which is important for relaxing artery. High cholesterol can reduce an artery’s response to this hormone and thereby decrease blood flow as well.
HIGH CHOLESTEROL EFFECT ON WOMEN’S SEX LIFE
Effects of high cholesterol levels also have a negative impact on women’s sex life as well. It has been seen that a female’s sexual arousal also count on the increased blood flow to the genitals. High cholesterol can build up in the arteries and makes it difficult for the blood to reach the pelvic region, making it hard for a woman to get aroused and lubricated prior to sexual intercourse.
WHAT IS CHOLESTEROL?
Now that we understand the connection between high cholesterol and sex life, it is very important to understand what cholesterol is. Cholesterol produced by liver, is a dense fatty substance found in every cell of the body. It is important to many life-sustaining functions. It helps the body make hormones and vitamin D.
TYPES OF CHOLESTEROL
Cholesterol is carried in your blood by proteins and when the two combine together they are called as lipoproteins. There are two main types of lipoproteins in our body:
- High-density lipoprotein (HDL) or Good Cholesterol: This carries cholesterol away from the cells and then brings it back to the liver, where it is broken down or passed out of the body as a waste product
- Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or Bad Cholesterol: This carries cholesterol to the cells that need it, but if there is an excess of cholesterol for the cells to use, then it can build up in the artery walls, leading to disease of the arteries.
Cholesterol levels are mostly measured in milligrams (mg) of cholesterol per decilitre (dL) of blood. A blood sample is required to determine the values.
|Total Cholesterol Levels||Category|
|Less than 200 mg/dL||Desirable|
|240 mg/dl and above||High|
Total cholesterol levels below 200 mg/dL are considered ideal.
High cholesterol is a condition which occurs when the levels of cholesterol in the blood are raised. The levels are high enough to cause health problems such as heart disease (which includes stroke, heart attack) and can also cause erectile dysfunction in males.
High cholesterol generally doesn’t cause any symptoms, so only a blood test can reveal the cholesterol numbers.
CAUSES OF HIGH CHOLESTEROL
Many factors can have an effect on the cholesterol levels in our blood, causing high cholesterol levels, these are:
- Lack of exercise
- Unhealthy diet: Saturated fat and cholesterol in the food can make the blood cholesterol level go up.
- Overweight or obesity
- Age and gender
- Hereditary factors
- Cigarette smoking
- Having high blood pressure or diabetes
PREVENTION AND TREATMENT
Cholesterol levels can be lowered by the following ways:
- Lifestyle modification
- Keeping a check on the fat intake
- Regularly exercising
- Stop cigarette smoking
- Having a healthy diet which is rich in fruits and vegetables
- Losing weight, if you are obese or over-weight
- For some people, medications may be prescribed
- Regular and timely checkups to monitor your cholesterol levels
The reason behind certain health problems is not always very obvious. There are many unknown or not so known reasons behind them; the correlation of sex life and cholesterol is one of them. So, if you wish to enjoy your sexual life, keep cholesterol under control.