Need a boost in bed? Just drink coffee

New research shows that two to three cups of coffee a day can significantly reduce erectile dysfunction in men.

Researchers found that caffeine intake can reduce the risks of erectile dysfunction (credit: Reuters/Daniel Leclair)

Researchers found that caffeine intake can reduce the risks of erectile dysfunction (credit: Reuters/Daniel Leclair)

The study recently published in the journal PLOS ONE was conducted by a group of researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center (Houston, USA). The scientists found that men who consumed between 85 and 170 milligrams of coffee a day were 42% less likely to report erectile dysfunction (ED) than those who drank below 7 milligrams a day. Higher consumption – between 171 and 303 milligrams of caffeine a day – still showed a beneficial effect , 39%, though not as high as the aforementioned 85-170 mg optimum.

The trend persisted even among overweight, obese and hypertensive men who have increased chances to suffer from ED, but it did not hold for people with diabetes. “Even though we saw a reduction in the prevalence of ED with men who were obese, overweight and hypertensive, that was not true of men with diabetes. Diabetes is one of the strongest risk factors for ED, so this was not surprising,” said David Lopez, lead author of the study and assistant professor at UTHealth School of Public Health.

But what is the biological mechanism behind this phenomenon? According to the researchers, caffeine triggers a series of pharmacological effects that cause the relaxation of the penile helicine arteries and the cavernous smooth muscle, hence increasing penile blood flow. The ‘beneficial’ effects do not necessarily come from just coffee: caffeine sources also include tea, soda and sport drinks.

Looking at the numbers, only in the United States 18.4% of men 20 years and older suffer from ED, which means a staggering 18 million are affected. Caffeine is consumed by more than 85% adults. The data for the study was gathered through the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) and ED was assessed by a single question in a computer-based, self-interview. A total of 3724 men were interviewed and 24-h recall data was used to estimate the caffeine intake in mg/day.

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Carlo Bradac

Carlo Bradac

Dr Carlo Bradac is a Research Fellow at the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS). He studied physics and engineering at the Polytechnic of Milan (Italy) where he achieved his Bachelor of Science (2004) and Master of Science (2006) in Engineering for Physics and Mathematics. During his employment experience, he worked as Application Engineer and Process Automation & Control Engineer. In 2012 he completed his PhD in Physics at Macquarie University, Sydney (Australia). He worked as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Sydney University and Macquarie University, before moving to UTS upon receiving the Chancellor Postdoctoral Research and DECRA Fellowships.

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