Cholesterol builds up not just inside the arteries that feed our heart muscle, but inside all of our blood vessels. In the heart, atherosclerosis can cause a heart attack. In the brain, it can cause a stroke. In our legs, it can cause peripheral vascular disease and result in debilitating cramping; in our vertebral arteries, it can cause disc degeneration and lower back pain. And clogs in our pelvic arteries can lead to sexual dysfunction—and not just in men.
A landmark study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine entitled “Hyperlipidemia and sexual function in premenopausal women” found that “Atherosclerosis of the arterial bed supplying female pelvic anatomy can lead to decreased vaginal engorgement and clitoral erectile insufficiency syndrome, similar to erectile problems in men, resulting in vasculogenic female sexual dysfunction,” an important factor of which may be “failure to achieve clitoral tumescence, or engorgement.” They found that women with high cholesterol reported significantly lower arousal, orgasm, lubrication, and satisfaction.
With Valentine’s Day around the corner, today’s Care2 video pick is a NutritionFacts.org video-of-the-day from last week featuring a case report of a man who went on a low carb diet, lost his ability to have an erection, and nearly lost his life (see above).
That was a pretty dramatic report, but it was just one person. Researchers at Harvard recently looked at one hundred thousand people and concluded that low carb diets were “associated with higher all-cause mortality, higher cardiovascular disease mortality, and higher cancer mortality.”
But what about the so-called “Eco-Atkins” diet, a plant-based low carb diet? Find out in the sequel, Plant-Based Atkins Diet. Another video of interest may be Rosy Glow, describing how erectile dysfunction may be an early warning sign for heart disease.
The bottom line? Eating healthier can extend one’s life, and also one’s love life.
Michael Greger, M.D.
Image credit: Rainer Z / Wikimedia Commons