Can caffeine cause impotence?
Impotence or erectile dysfunction (ED) is a problem with getting and maintaining a penile erection. This is reported to occur in 18 percent of men over 20 years of age. The rate of ED increases as men age and by the time a man reaches the age of 70 and better the percentage jumps to 70 percent. Many of these men may have certain medical conditions which include diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and/or high cholesterol (hyperlipidemia). Cardiovascular issues cause insufficient blood flow throughout the body but particularly the penis. Blood vessel damage doesn't allow enough blood to flow through the cavernosa of the penis to get an erection generating ED. Often times, blood vessels that are damaged become constricted and can't relax enough to become engorged with blood. Given that ED is somewhat common, foods in the diet have been suspected of contributing to the problem. One such dietary concern is coffee. The caffeine in coffee may be one of the culprits.
Caffeine as a Vasoconstrictor?
Caffeine is a molecule that is know to narrow blood vessels so it is referred to as a vasoconstrictor. Research on caffeine is not clear at this point, nevertheless it is thought to make ED worse if you have it. Studies indicate that the presence of caffeine brings about a small amount of constriction to blood flow, however this is transient and then vasodilation occurs (vessels relax and widen) which ultimately is good for ED. Caffeine is also a stimulator of the nervous system and this provides for focus, attention and an increase in energy. As stimulants go, caffeine is the most widely consumed in the world. It is reported that 90 percent of adults in the U.S. consume caffeine every day and 70 percent of the caffeine comes from coffee.
ED and Caffeine
Caffeine is found in a myriad of beverages and foods. In some beverages and foods, caffeine has been added by the manufacturer. As a stimulant, caffeine can be addictive and that is why manufacturers add to their products. This makes you want to buy more of the product to get your fix of caffeine. Caffeine is actually a natural pesticide produced by plants. Although deadly to an insect that chews on a caffeine producing plant, it just acts as a stimulant to humans due to the lower dosage. Many of the energy drinks, tea and coffee that contain caffeine whether natural or added after the fact have been scientifically tested. Herein, lies the problem. There are so many other healthful molecules in these beverages that are interacting that research can't pull apart just what caffeine is doing. Coffee alone has more than 100 molecules in it many of which are beneficial to your health. But, caffeine in coffee doesn't behave the same way as taking pure caffeine. Body builders know this well and often take pure caffeine instead of drinking coffee. Nevertheless, some research demonstrates that coffee can help lower heart disease, diabetes and death from a number of causes. Caffeine would also seem to be beneficial for men who have ED. Even though it appears to be a vasoconstrictor initially, in the end it helps blood vessel to relax. One study in 2015 took a look at more than 3700 men who drank 2 to 3 cups of coffee a day. They reported that this consumption reduced their risk of ED.
So, it would seem that a couple cups of coffee a day tends to have beneficial effects for most people and it doesn't seem to contribute to impotence. On the other hand, too much coffee can have negative side effects. In excess, caffeine can cause headaches, nervousness, anxiety, tachycardia (rapid heart beat) and sleep problems. In other words, don't over do it.