Obese belly

Belly fat triggers erection problems

Problems getting an erection? Belly fat is one of the most common causes of erectile dysfunction, according to a new Dutch study. If you have trouble with erections, don't reach straight for the Viagra – change your diet and head to the gym.

Excessive fat around a man's belly lowers his ability to get a hard-on in two ways says Dr Eric Meuleman, author of the study at Amsterdam's VU University.

Lose testosterone

Stomach fat produces enzymes that squeeze blood vessels and reduce blood flow to the penis, says Dr Meuleman – and that’s what you need to get an erection.

Those same enzymes also turn the male sex-hormone testosterone into the female sex-hormone estrogen. Testosterone boosts arousal and men need this to get and keep an erection during sex.

Erectile problem overlooked

Getting an erection is a complex process that involves visual cues, emotions, hormones, muscles and blood. Lots of things like stress, depression, poor diet, and alcoholism are known to cause erection problems. This can affect men of all ages.But up to now, the connection between fat around the tummy and erectile dysfunction has been overlooked, says Dr. Meuleman – especially in western countries where men tend to be fatter.

Don't reach for Viagra

Many men who have difficulty getting and keeping an erection reach for Viagra or other drugs which help them get a hard-on. Dr Meuleman says men should not just rely on pills; they should also lead healthier lifestyles to get rid of the underlying cause: belly fat.

The pills only treat the symptoms and not the real cause, says Dr Meuleman, and over time they become less and less effective.

What do you think is the biggest cause of erection trouble?

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