What You Need To Know About Statins And Erectile Dysfunction

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Written by the UPGUYS Editorial Team Published on August 25, 2022

Nearly 14% of Canadian adults have unhealthy LDL cholesterol levels. High LDL numbers can place you at risk for several adverse health outcomes, like a heart attack. When you visit a doctor, they might suggest starting a statin.

You may be apprehensive about starting statins. Statins and erectile dysfunction are interconnected in several ways, but you can rest assured that statins might help more than harm. 

While that is just a sneak peek, our complete UPGUYS guide will dive into all you need to know regarding statins and your erection problems. Are you still interested? Keep reading on and learn more about how statins work and how they interact with your sexual performance. 

In this article, we talk about the following:

What Are Statins?

Statins are a prescription medication used for cholesterol. They cannot be purchased over-the-counter, and you must have a valid physician's script to purchase. 

Statins function through a simple method - they block liver enzymes responsible for cholesterol production. In return, it can lower blood cholesterol levels. 

As a whole, not all cholesterol is bad for your health. Cholesterol is vital for maintaining cellular homeostasis.

Issues arise with excessive blood cholesterol levels that impede blood flow. With higher amounts of cholesterol and increasingly blocked blood flow, you have a higher risk for medical conditions like:

  • Strokes
  • Heart attacks

Common statins include Lipitor, Crestor, and Lescol. There are also various combination statins available. 

Statin Medication Side Effects

Since there are several statins on the market, let's look at one of the most popular ones: Lipitor. It is a type of statin known as an HMG CoA reductase inhibitor. 

Physicians often prescribe Lipitor and a healthy diet to help reduce low-density lipoproteins and triglycerides. However, like many prescription medications, there are some common side effects. These may dissipate after your body adjusts to a new medication.

Here are some Lipitor side effects to be aware of:

  • Headache
  • Low back pain 
  • Painful urination
  • Congestion

Rare side effects can result in fever, hives, muscle cramps, or erectile dysfunction. In regard to genitourinary side effects, erection problems occurred in 0.1% to 1% of patients. 

Another reaction of statins is the effects on testosterone levels. A meta-analysis found that Lipitor could reduce testosterone levels. 

This may lead to some symptoms of erection difficulties. Unfortunately, the studies aren't demonstrating consistent results, and there were two in particular that showed no changes in testosterone levels.

When should you seek medical attention? Any allergic reaction symptoms like shortness of breath or swelling require emergent medical care.

What Is Erectile Dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction is a sexual health disorder that affects males once they reach sexual maturity. Lack of erections does not always coincide with decreased libido or sex drive. It can affect any age group, although older men have higher risks. 

ED symptoms are primarily characterized by an inability to achieve a rigid erection long enough for penetrative sex. This disorder can make it difficult to be intimate with a partner or spouse and can affect fertility. 

In Canada, erectile dysfunction impacts nearly three million men over 40. By age 70, this percentage increases to 70%. 

Erectile Dysfunction Causes

What are some of the causes of ED? There are two primary categories: psychological and medical. In younger men, it is more likely that erection difficulties arise from emotional or psychological concerns, like:

  • Relationship issues
  • Increased stress
  • Depression
  • Anxiety

Physical causes are more prevalent in older men, but it does not mean that they can't occur in younger populations, like in the instance of diabetes. Diabetes can result in erection problems and affects approximately 7.7% of Canadians. Other physical causes may include:

  • Medication
  • Heart disease
  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure
  • Renal failure
  • Trauma

Vascular issues are primarily to blame, including clogged or narrowed arteries. The vessels in the penile tissues are small, making even minor damage impactful on your erections.

Hormones can also play a role, such as the link between ED and low testosterone. Overall, since physical causes account for around 90% of erection difficulties, it is crucial that you reach out to a health care provider to address underlying causes. 

Statins and Erectile Dysfunction

There are two ways statins interact with erectile dysfunction. One argument is that statin medications can cause erectile dysfunction (more on that below). The other argument is that cardiac medications interact with erectile dysfunction medication. 

The unfortunate reality is that men with high cholesterol are more likely to develop erection difficulties than men with excellent cholesterol levels. Nitrates are the primary medication that causes interactions with erectile dysfunction medication. 

They are used to manage chest pain and act as vasodilators. Statins work differently and are usually safe to take with erectile dysfunction medication.

This allows you to manage both symptoms safely. However, if you ever have concerns, you should reach out to your primary health care provider. 

Do Statins Cause Erectile Dysfunction?

As you read earlier, in very rare instances, statins cause erection difficulties. In many cases, it is from a reduction in testosterone levels versus a direct impact on penile arteries. 

Experts find that boosting testosterone within normal ranges can help with erection quality and rigidity. Yet, you must talk to a medical provider to determine whether you are a good candidate for other medication or hormone therapy. 

Can Statins Help Erectile Dysfunction?

Managing high cholesterol levels inadvertently helps with erections. Ultimately, statins aim to improve vascularity and reduce the risk of clotting. These reactions happen systemically. 

Statins help increase the amount of nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide's role improves endothelial functioning by increasing blood supply and dilating blood vessels. 

Taking steps to manage your high cholesterol also indirectly helps erectile dysfunction. Many physicians suggest implementing a healthy lifestyle in conjunction with statin use, such as:

  • Eating healthily
  • Exercising regularly
  • Maintaining a healthy body weight

Exercise can boost cardiovascular health and contribute to healthy weight loss. There are also several types of foods that contribute to poor cholesterol and erection problems. These include things like frozen meals, soda, deli meats, pizza, or deep-fried foods. 

Managing Cholesterol Naturally

If you don't like how statins make you feel, you may ask your doctor about other medications or natural remedies. Here are some basic ways you can start lowering your cholesterol naturally:

  • Avoid trans fat
  • Avoid saturated fat
  • Implement monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats
  • Eat fibre
  • Exercise

As you can see, many of these solutions are in the form of what you eat. Switching to more plant-based products can give you a good headstart toward replacing unhealthy fats with monounsaturated ones. 

ED Treatment

Luckily, many of the healthy lifestyle habits noted above can also help your sexual performance. There are several other types of treatment for your erection problems, but one of the most popular options is medications. PDE5 inhibitors like Viagra or Cialis improve blood flow to penile tissues.

In return, this boosts erection quality. PDE5 inhibitors are effective by relaxing smooth muscle walls in vascular tissue and increasing vasodilation. 

Medications like Viagra can take thirty minutes at a minimum to start working. Afterward, they can remain in your system for several hours. It is extremely important that you do not double your dosage or combine it with other similar medications without talking to your physician first. 

Additionally, these medications are used once daily or as needed. They do not replace the need for sexual stimulation. You can also try other natural remedies, like counselling or supplements. 

Small study samples found that L-arginine supplements combined with PDE5 inhibitors could improve erection quality.

Using supplements should also follow the direction of medical personnel. They typically will not work independently for moderate to severe cases. 

Managing Your Erectile Dysfunction Symptoms

Have you wondered how statins and erectile dysfunction are interconnected? The chances are very slim that statins are directly causing erection problems. Instead, it could be multi-causal, such as impaired blood flow and other comorbidities. 

You will want to chat with your health care provider if you notice any changes in symptoms or side effects. If you deal with erection difficulties, there could be other treatment options on the market, such as PDE5 inhibitors.

For help getting started, you can talk with one of the healthcare providers at UPGUYS and schedule your virtual appointment today!


Disclaimer
This article is written for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information provided in the articles cannot and should not replace advice from a healthcare professional. Talk to your healthcare provider about any physical or mental health concerns or the risks and benefits of any treatment or medication.