Coronavirus Disease 2019: Facts sheet to stay safe from the outbreak   Learn More

Peripheral Vascular Disease and Erectile Dysfunction

Saima Andrabi   by Saima Andrabi, MS, Clinical Biochemistry    Last updated on March 17, 2020,

Erectile dysfunction (ED) and peripheral vascular disease (ED) are two different diseases/conditions. Erectile dysfunction is a condition found in men making them unable to get and maintain an erection firm enough for sexual intercourse. Peripheral vascular disease (PVD) on the other hand is a circulatory problem in which the arteries become narrow and therefore reduce the flow of blood to different body parts.

Although both ED and PVD are two different conditions, both are strongly related. It is reported that erectile dysfunction can be an early warning sign for various heart problems and heart diseases like peripheral vascular diseases.

Is There any Relationship Between Erectile Dysfunction (ED) and Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD)?

Different vascular diseases like peripheral vascular disease (PVD) restrict the flow of blood to different organs like the brain, heart, kidneys, etc. They may also decrease the blood flow to the lower extremities of the body including the limbs leading to severe limb pain.

PVD can cut the blood supply to the penis resulting in erectile dysfunction (ED). Vascular diseases may be the cause of erectile dysfunction in almost 50 to 70% of patients having it.

Can Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD) Cause Erectile Dysfunction?

Peripheral vascular disease is characterized by the narrowing of blood vessels due to the deposition of some plaques (deposits of fat and cholesterol) in the walls of arteries. These plaques block the arteries due to which they are not able to supply sufficient amount of blood to different organs of the body.

Penile erection requires a good amount of blood. If the penile arteries also become blocked due to the deposition of plaques, they may no longer supply blood to the penis and hence can result in erectile dysfunction.

What Causes Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD) and How is it Linked to Erectile Dysfunction in Males?

Peripheral arterial disease, also called a peripheral vascular disease, mainly occurs due to the narrowing of the arterial walls caused due to the deposition of fat and cholesterol plaques, a condition called atherosclerosis.

These atherosclerotic plaques may travel to different organs like heart and brain tissues depriving them of the required oxygen supply leading to strokes.

Atherosclerotic plaques may also reach the arteries that supply blood to the penis and therefore result in erectile dysfunction (ED).


PVD may sometimes cause a venous leak that may result in erectile dysfunction. Normally, the penis stores blood for keeping its erection. PVD may cause the failure of penal veins to store the blood due to which the penis can’t maintain its erection, resulting in ED.

Erectile dysfunction is caused by a lack of proper blood supply to the penis due to which it fails to maintain its erection. PVD, on the other hand, may be responsible for depriving the penis of the required blood supply.

PVD, in short, may be one of the causes of ED in males. Besides, PVD is responsible for different heart diseases such as coronary heart diseases, heart attacks, ischemia, etc.

Erectile dysfunction can be a potent marker for current or future heart problems; however, ED doesn’t always indicate an underlying heart problem.

Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD) and Erectile Dysfunction (ED) Share Common Risk Factors

Following are some of the common risk factors between peripheral vascular disease (PVD) and erectile dysfunction:

Diabetes

Men who suffer with diabetes are at a higher risk of erectile dysfunction and peripheral vascular diseases.

High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure damages the blood vessels and further accelerates the process of peripheral vascular diseases.

High blood pressure medications can affect your sexual health and may lead to ED.

Tobacco

Tobacco smoking increases the chances of developing peripheral vascular diseases which in turn leads to ED.

High Cholesterol

High blood cholesterol levels are one of the major causes of PVDs and hence increases the risk of ED.

Obesity or Overweight

Obese people are at a higher risk of developing PVD and therefore may develop ED as well.

Age

Older people have higher chances of developing ED and PVDs.

 

You may want to read these related topics as well:

Early Signs and Diagnosis of Erectile Dysfunction

Drugs That Cause Erectile Dysfunction

 

Mechanism: How are Heart Diseases, Peripheral Vascular Diseases, and Erectile Dysfunction Linked?

Peripheral heart disease is mainly caused by atherosclerosis (deposition of plaques of fat and cholesterol in the blood vessels) due to which the blood vessels get blocked and are no longer capable of supplying enough oxygen and nutrient-rich blood to the different body parts including the heart and penis.

When the heart vessels get blocked due to PVD, it may lead to different heart diseases like coronary heart diseases, strokes, ischemia, heart attacks, etc.

Similarly, the lack of enough blood supply to the penis caused by PVD may lead to ED.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, peripheral artery disease may cause erectile dysfunction because it is characterized by narrowing of blood vessels due to atherosclerosis and therefore penile vessels also become narrow and fail to supply enough blood to the penis leading to ED.

No, ED is not always a sign of any underlying heart condition; however, some researchers suggest that men with ED with no obvious cause or heart disease symptom should be screened for heart diseases.

No, as such ED is not a serious problem in most cases. However, in some cases it may be an indication of some serious heart diseases. Therefore, you should always get yourself screened for heart diseases if you have prolonged symptoms of ED.

Viagra (sildenafil) and Cialis (tadalafil) are the commonly prescribed drugs for people having ED and are considered to be safe and effective.

Yes, blocked arteries (as in case of PVD) can cause ED. This is because if the penile arteries are blocked, they will no longer be capable of supplying sufficient blood to the penis and may therefore lead to erectile dysfunction (ED).