to achieve and sustain an erect penis depends on a complex interaction
of sensory information, nerves, blood vessels, hormones and emotions.
In particular, vascular tissue in the penis needs to fill with blood
after nerves have carried sexual stimulation from the brain.
Regular failure to achieve an erection is called Erectile Dysfunction
or ED. Estimates of the total number of American men who suffer from
ED range from 15-30 million, according to the National Institutes of
This stressful disorder is often linked to Insulin Resistance,
an imbalance in blood glucose and insulin levels associated with
Metabolic Syndrome also known as Syndrome X. This latter disorder is a cluster
of increased risk factors for heart disease which place extra strain
on the cardiovascular system and can disrupt the delicate balance
required to achieve an erection.
However, both Insulin Resistance and Metabolic Syndrome can be
reversed, thereby often removing underlying causes of ED.
Excess insulin in the blood stream created by Insulin Resistance
is implicated in ED because it damages the endothelium of
cardiovascular vessels. The endothelium is the layer on the
inside of blood vessels which secretes chemical mediators that
instruct the vessel to contract or relax. To achieve an
erection, a release of nitric oxide from the endothelium has to
create vascular dilation, allowing vessels to fill with blood.
This influx of blood is necessary for achieving an erection. Any
decrease in nitric oxide supply to the penis caused by
insulin-damaged endothelium lessens or prevents vascular
dilation and contributes to Erectile Dysfunction.
Men with Metabolic Syndrome are particularly vulnerable to the
onset of reversible Pre-Diabetes, another disorder closely linked
with ED. If neglected, Pre-Diabetes may lead to Type 2 Diabetes,
which must be managed for the rest of a Diabetic's life in the vast majority of cases and often requires
daily insulin injections. Between 35-50% of men with Diabetes
experience ED because the various forms of this disorder can
damage nerves and arteries, making it difficult to achieve an erection.
Type 2 Diabetes, itself, is a severely increased risk factor for blindess, kidney disese and the need for amputation. Between 35-50% of men with Diabetes experience ED because the various forms of this disorder can damage nerves and arteries, making it difficult to achieve an erection.
A Complexity of Factors
Essentially, Erectile Dysfunction occurs when the body experiences
a breakdown in the sequence of events that normally lead to an
erection. This disruption can occur in nerve impulses to and
from the brain, spine and penis or in the muscles, fibrous tissues
and arteries in or near the corpora cavernosa the two
parallel chambers of the penis that fill with blood to create
Erectile Dysfunction is not the same as premature ejaculation,
a low sex drive or a low sperm count that results in male
infertility, though one or more of these conditions may accompany
ED. Occasional failure to achieve an erection (less than 20% of
the time) can occur for a variety of reasons such as
drinking too much alcohol or extreme fatigue and is not
But a failure rate of more than 50% during occasions when a
man wants to have an erection usually indicates a problem that
requires treatment. Erectile Dysfunction is much more common
in older men researchers estimate that half of men over
age 60 have ED.
A wide variety of physical and psychological conditions are
associated with ED. As well as Pre- and Type 2 Diabetes,
they can include prostate surgery, depression, stress,
performance anxiety, kidney disease and hormonal imbalances.
Because of the complexity of factors in an erection, ED can
involve physical or psychological issues or a combination
of the two.
As many as 70% of cases of ED are caused by cardiovascular
diseases such as atherosclerosis, which Metabolic Syndrome can
set in motion. This disorder is a type of hardening of the
arteries in which cholesterol, fat and other blood components
build up in the walls of arteries via poor diet and lack of
regular exercise resulting in excess weight gain.
As the condition progresses, the arteries to the heart may
narrow, reducing the flow of oxygen-rich blood and nutrients
to the heart and brain. This restriction damages the
cardiovascular system and can also reduce blood flow to the
tissues of the penis, causing ED.
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is scientifically-designed to help reverse Metabolic Syndrome and its linked
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includes Vitamin C to improves blood circulation by reducing
damage to arteries.
Metabolic Syndrome, Erectile Dysfunction and Diabetes are closely associated conditions and there is new evidence which suggests Diabetic men with ED could be headed for cardiovascular damage leading to a heart attack or stroke.
Researchers in Hong Kong discovered that Diabetics with ED were twice as likely to suffer major cardiac trouble like a heart attack than Diabetics who had no trouble achieving and sustaining an erection.
Erectile Dysfunction is often linked with both Pre-and Type 2 Diabetes, which in turn, can be caused by Insulin Resistance - an imbalance of blood glucose and insulin, which can impair the vital conversion of glucose into energy as well as damage arteries and restrict blood flow to organs like the penis.
Insulin Resistance can also underlie excess weight gain and obesity, which also often contribute to ED as well as playing a key role in a multitude of other disorders. These range from some forms of cancer to Diabetes-linked blindness, kidney disease and the need for amputation of toes, legs and arms.
The researchers in Hong Kong studied more than 2,000 Diabetic men for four years. Diabetics in general are prone to ED and heart disease because they all share a common link - damage to blood vessels that impairs blood flow. But not all Diabetics suffer from Erectile Dysfunction and those participants in the study without ED had twice the chance of avoiding cardiovascular damage than those with ED.
Team leader Peter Chun-Yip told Health Daily that their findings suggested that Diabetics with persistent ED should seek a doctor's advice about excess weight. high blood sugar levels, elevated blood pressure and high LDL "bad" cholesterol levels - all symptoms of Metabolic Syndrome.
Weight loss via a healthier diet and regular exercise is crucial to reversing Insulin Resistance and losing weight to lessen the risk of heart disease. Losing weight also offers the chance to overcome many of the symptoms of ED itself.
You may be interested in some of our Frequently Asked
Questions (FAQs) about Metabolic Syndrome and the Insulite
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Metabolic Syndrome and Stress