Can Being Overweight Cause Erectile Dysfunction?

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Obesity and being overweight has long ago become a global problem. Speaking about the United States only, more than 30% of the adult population is overweight. In the male population, this figure reaches 34.1%, according to NIH, which makes up one in three men. We all know that obesity and excessive body mass are unhealthy for the body. But does being overweight influence the male sex life? Can it be the cause of erectile dysfunction (ED)? Are you overweight and having trouble getting and keeping an erection firm? This post will explain everything you may want to know.

What Is Considered Overweight?

To help you understand whether your erection problems are caused by excessive weight, it’s essential to know whether you have that extra pounds.So how to learn that your weight is beyond the norm?

In some cases, it’s super easy to understand whether you are overweight or not just by looking in the mirror. Doctors use a special formula for determining the body mass index. It looks like BMI = mass (lbs)/height2(in)*703. If your result is 25 lbs/in or higher, you have excessive weight.

What Is Erectile Dysfunction?

Failures in bed happen to all men at some point in their lives. However, rare episodes of a weak or unstable erection cannot be considered erectile dysfunction. So what is it? Erectile dysfunction is a chronic medical condition that primarily affects males aged 40 and older, although, in recent years, the episodes of ED in younger individuals have become more common.

You may be diagnosed with erectile dysfunction if you have the following symptoms:

  • you can’t attain an erection most of the times you attempt to;
  • you cannot get an erection at all;
  • you can get an erection but cannot keep it long enough for satisfactory sexual intercourse.

Excessive Weight and Erectile Dysfunction Interconnection

A 2008 study showed that overweight and obese people are 30 – 90% more likely to develop sexual dysfunction than individuals with a healthy body mass. Another scientific research revealed that 79% of men with weak or unstable erections have BMI that exceeds the healthy norm. Based on these facts, scientists agreed to consider excess weight an individual risk factor for developing male sexual inability.

Aside from this, being overweight bears a lot of other health risks that may have a significant impact on male erectile function. Among the health issues that will typically develop in men with excess body weight, there are:

  • diabetes;
  • high blood pressure;
  • heart disease;
  • hormonal imbalance;
  • high cholesterol.

Each of these medical conditions adds to the difficulties in bed in its own way. Let’s take an in-depth look at each of these problems to understand why they are a threat to male health.


Excessive weight and diabetes are tightly interconnected because the presence of one disorder significantly increases the risks of developing the other one. Scientists claim that diabetic men are thrice more likely to get a firm erection than those without diabetes.

The primary reason why diabetes promotes the loss of male power is the damage to the blood vessels and nerves it does. Because of this, the inflow of blood to the genitals worsens, so the organ can no longer fill with sufficient amounts of blood to become firm. The damage to the nerve tissue affects the sensitivity of the penis and makes it difficult to send and receive nerve signals to and from the brain.

High Blood Pressure

This is another factor contributing to the loss of male power, which is more common in overweight than in healthy-weight people. Some people do not notice any problems with their arterial pressure until they develop significant health issues. The prolonged influence of high blood pressure leads to damage to the inner lining of the blood vessels, making them stiff and hard to dilate. This results in limited inflow of blood to the genital area, triggering the development of ED.

Heart Disease

With the growth of the body weight, the amount of blood in your body also grows. Thus, your heart has to work more to pump it. Gradually, an increased load on the organ causes heart disease. Studies show a strong link between poor erection and ischemic heart disease. So if you have problems with the heart, you are very likely to have issues with your sexual health too, and vice versa. In some men, the only symptom signaling cardiovascular disease is erectile dysfunction.

Hormonal Imbalance

The male-type body fat distribution presupposes that most extra pounds are concentrated around the waist. The belly fat is known to produce estrogen – the female hormone that is normally present in males too. However, the excess estrogen leads to a drop in testosterone, causing hormonal imbalance. In men, low testosterone levels may lead to low sex drive and erectile dysfunction.

High Cholesterol

The prevalence of saturated fats in the diet causes weight gain and the growth of the levels of blood cholesterol. By building up in your blood vessels, cholesterol makes them less elastic and narrows the lumen of the arteries, thus interfering with the healthy circulation of blood. The latter worsens the supply of blood to the penis. Therefore, it may become hard for you to maintain an erection or make it firm enough for penetrative intercourse.

How to Avoid ED?

If your dysfunction has gone severe, you are not likely to resolve it without medical advice and special therapy. But if you only have the first signs of the disease, there is a good chance that you can enhance your sexual health by changing your lifestyle choices.

Here’s what you can do to make your erectile function better:

  • Start a weight loss program. Losing weight is one of the most effective methods to make erections harder and more long-lasting. If you are obese or severely overweight, you should better seek professional assistance in your weight-loss journey.
  • Increase your physical activity. Aerobic exercises, like walking, jogging, and swimming,work well for your heart health and help to restore your sexual function.
  • Eat healthily. The best choice for an overweight man dealing with erection problems is the Mediterranean diet. It’s rich in unsaturated (healthy) fats, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, Omega-3 fatty acids, and other nutrients that will improve your overall health and promote better erections.
  • Give up unhealthy habits, like smoking and alcohol consumption, as they add to extra weight and male sexual inability.

Can Being Overweight Cause Erectile Dysfunction? – Bottom Line

Being overweight is a direct way to develop multiple health issues, including erectile dysfunction. If you have these problems, you can still resolve them by incorporating changes to your way of life.