Most people need a caffeine or coffee fix to get through the day. But many men wonder if the caffeine in their daily beverage can affect erectile function.
A variety of factors can raise the risk of erectile issues, including alcohol, smoking, sedentary lifestyle, obesity, and heart disease, and although little is known about exactly how much caffeine affects erectile function, we know they are somewhat connected. Fortunately, unlike other sugar-sweetened beverages, coffee is packed with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents.
Because caffeine can act as a vasoconstrictor, a substance that narrows blood vessels, some experts think it might worsen the effects of erectile issues. But the effects of caffeine on blood flow may seem a bit contradictory: initially, a mild constriction of blood flow can occur, but this effect is temporary and not common in regular caffeine consumers.
Caffeine primarily acts as a vasodilator, which means it improves blood flow – which is actually beneficial for erectile issues. It also stimulates the central nervous system, causing a sudden burst of energy and alertness.
Since caffeine is found in beverages that have additional health effects, such as the beneficial antioxidants in coffee and tea, or the less beneficial sugars in energy drinks, it can be challenging for researchers to tease out which effects are caffeine-related and which effects are from other substances. Coffee, for example, contains hundreds of compounds that can impact human health.
A review article published in the September 2013 issue of "Journal of American College of Cardiology" reported that regular coffee consumption was either neutral or beneficial to a variety of health outcomes, including heart disease, diabetes and death from all causes. Additionally, a study published in 2015 analyzed self-reported data from over 3700 men, and linked 2 to 3 daily cups of coffee daily to a reduced risk of erectile problems overall.
In general, caffeine intake equivalent to 2 to 3 cups of daily coffee appears to have beneficial health effects in most people, and does not appear to cause or worsen erectile issues. However, excess caffeine may cause other adverse symptoms, such as sleep disruptions, headaches, anxiety and strong or rapid heartbeats.
Once you begin to address the causes behind any erectile issues you might be having, you can also opt to help with the physical symptoms of ED and erectile issues through penile exercises and vacuum pumps that can help restore sexual function and improve erectile difficulties.