Erectile Dysfunction (ED) Caused By Clog

When you imagine having clogged arteries, maybe you think of what happens if you order a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich every morning, or getting winded climbing stairs. What probably doesn’t cross your mind is your sexual health.

While clogged arteries can cause shortness of breath, chest pain or even a heart attack, there is another lesser-known side effect of clogged arteries: erectile dysfunction (ED). In fact, atherosclerosis, a disease in which your arteries become clogged due to plaque buildup, is one of the most common physical causes of ED.

Clogged arteries can cause a penile blockage, known more casually as a “penis clog” — which, be honest, you may have Googled to find this article (we get it). Here, we’ll talk about the relationship between ED and clogged arteries, plus how to treat this type of ED with medication and lifestyle changes.

ED & Clogged Arteries

What does the heart have to do with the penis? It's a weirdly poetic question, but if you’re struggling to maintain an erection, it’s actually essential that you understand the relationship between clogged arteries and ED.

In fact, understanding vascular erectile dysfunction symptoms can give you important insight into your overall health.

Here’s the TLDR: 

  • Causes of ED include depression, anxiety, diabetes, obesity and certain medications, but this condition is increasingly thought to be a predominantly vascular disorder.

  • Atherosclerosis can have effects throughout your body, but the penis is often the first thing affected. 

  • Some ED medications may help to improve your erections if you have clogged arteries.

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How Can Clogged Arteries Cause ED?

If this were health class, then today would be the day we covered how erections work. Glad you made it, as this is important for understanding how clogged arteries cause ED.

You might think erections are about wanting to have sex, but they’re really all about healthy blood flow. When you feel sexually aroused (okay, that’s important, too), impulses from your nervous system cause the muscles that control blood flow to the erectile tissue of your penis to relax.

This relaxation allows blood to flow in and fill the corpora cavernosa — the two sponge-like areas of erectile tissue located inside your penis.

As blood fills this tissue, your penis becomes larger and firmer, AKA you get an erection. At the same time, a membrane that surrounds the tissue of your penis, called the tunica albuginea, retracts, helping to maintain your erection during sex.

After you reach orgasm and ejaculate, the same process occurs in reverse, with the membrane relaxing and blood flowing out of your erectile tissue.

Clogged arteries can affect this process by narrowing your blood vessels and reducing blood flow throughout your body, including to your penis.

You can even think of the penis as the fortune teller of the body. If you’re experiencing ED, there’s a good chance that cardiovascular diseases (CVD) may be in your future, as ED is seen as an early manifestation of this disorder. Some researchers go so far as to call vasculogenic erectile dysfunction — or ED caused by blood flow issues — the “canary in the coal mine” for cardiovascular disease.

One study done between 2005 and 2011 found that patients with severe ED who had no vascular risk factors at the beginning of the study had a more than 30 percent risk of developing CVD or hypertension in a 10-year timeframe

How Can Changes to Blood Flow Impact Erections?

This may kill the mood if you think about it during sex, but an erection is hard and firm because the penis is engorged with blood. 

Since your penile artery is small, even modest changes to blood flow throughout your body can have a noticeable impact on your erections.

Vigorous to moderate aerobic exercise (by which we mean anything that gets your heart rate up, not just  ‘80s step aerobics) has been shown to help with ED, likely because it improves blood flow in the body. So, if you start working out more, you may notice stronger erections due to better blood flow.

On the flip side, if less blood is flowing, you may experience weaker erections or ED. As you know by now, when your arteries are clogged, it’s not just the coronary arteries that are affected. Atherosclerosis causes cholesterol to build up in the blood vessel walls and form plaques throughout the body, which make the vessels narrow and slow down blood flow — including to the penis.

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Treating ED Caused by Clogged Arteries

ED is a common symptom of clogged arteries, so addressing the underlying cause can help treat your ED. But before you learn how to treat the condition, it’s important to understand what causes atherosclerosis. 

Several factors, including genetics and family history, eating a high-fat diet, high cholesterol and unhealthy lifestyle choices like smoking, all contribute. While you can’t do anything about what genes your parents gave you, many of these risk factors are changeable.

Because of this, medication and lifestyle tweaks (more on both in a few) are recommended to address ED. Read on for more info on treating ED that’s caused by clogged arteries.

ED Medications

Some cases of ED are treated with medications called PDE5 inhibitors. These work by improving blood flow to the erectile tissue of your penis, making it easier for you to get and stay hard when you feel sexually aroused. Their ability to cause erections was actually discovered by accident while studying their ability to treat hypertension and angina (that’s chest pain). 

Sildenafil (you probably know it as Viagra®) is one of the most common erectile dysfunction medications. It was FDA-approved for erectile dysfunction in 1998 and works by increasing blood flow to the penis.

Here’s where things get tricky, though. Viagra is not recommended for people with heart disease or high cholesterol, both of which are linked to clogged arteries. 

So before popping the little blue pill — or another similar one —  it’s best to check in with a healthcare provider or urologist who can help discern what’s causing your ED and make recommendations accordingly.

Other commonly prescribed PDE5 inhibitors include Cialis® (tadalafil), Levitra® (vardenafil) and Stendra® (avanafil).

Coronary Artery Disease Medication

If you have significantly clogged arteries, your healthcare provider may prescribe medication for coronary artery disease —  the disease caused by atherosclerosis. 

Several types of medication are used to treat coronary artery disease and other cardiovascular health conditions, including statins, beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers and blood thinners such as aspirin. 

However, these medications don’t directly treat erectile dysfunction.

And more potentially bad news? Some medications prescribed for coronary artery disease and other cardiovascular problems can interact with ED medications, which means they’re unsafe to use together — a healthcare provider will help you figure out the safest and most effective options for you. 

But since these medications are prescribed to reduce the severity of clogged arteries and other cardiovascular issues, they should help with ED if used correctly, since they address the underlying cause. 

Lifestyle Changes

Maybe you’re one of those people who rolls your eyes at the idea that lifestyle tweaks can improve ED. But common risk factors of atherosclerosis, and therefore ED, include diabetes, hypertension, smoking, obesity and hyperlipidemia (a large amount of fat in the blood). 

Research suggests that managing these factors can prevent ED, and one of the least invasive ways to manage them is through lifestyle changes.

It may seem daunting but these little changes can make a big difference. Let’s explore some easy ways to make them.

Quit smoking

If you smoke, you’ve almost certainly thought about quitting before, and it’s definitely easier said than done. But quitting smoking can improve ED (not to mention your overall health), and maybe that’s the nudge you need to finally stop for good. 

Research shows that smoking affects the vascular system and can worsen erectile function — long story short, smoking constricts blood vessels and depletes nitric oxide, which can cause ED. Trials show that men who stop smoking (especially younger men without comorbidities) see improvement in ED.

Eat a healthy diet

No one is saying you need to swear off melted cheese forever (the horror), but making some tweaks to your diet can be helpful in the fight against vascular ED. 

The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) eating plan is a good place to start. This plan recommends fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and limits saturated fats, salt and added sugars.


Relax, pals — you don’t have to start training for a marathon or go anywhere near a CrossFit gym (unless you want to!). Jumping rope in your yard or taking a walk around the neighborhood while you’re on a call is all it takes to improve heart health.

The American Heart Association recommends gradually working up to at least 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity per week, or 75 minutes of “vigorous aerobic activity.”

Regular exercise can help to lower your LDL cholesterol (the “bad” one), increase your HDL cholesterol (the “good” one), reduce your blood pressure and strengthen your heart, all of which keep your arteries in good condition and make it easier for blood to flow throughout your body.

Maintain a healthy weight

Obesity and ED are associated, which means that obese people often experience ED as well. More research is needed, but animal studies show that weight loss via bariatric surgery can improve ED.

Losing just three to five percent of your current weight — that’s just about eight to 13 pounds for a 250-pound person — can help control coronary heart disease risk factors like high blood cholesterol and diabetes.

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ED Caused by Clogged Arteries: Final Word

ED probably isn’t something you sit around chatting about with your buddies, so it can feel isolating. But you’re not alone— erectile dysfunction is a common sexual dysfunction, affecting approximately 30 million men in the US.

 It’s so common, in fact, that a routine assessment for ED is recommended in all men over age forty. This is important because an ED diagnosis may help identify and decrease the risk of potential cardiovascular events.

There are other factors, like urethral stricture, genital deformities and certain untreated sexually transmitted diseases that cause inflammation of the prostate, that could also contribute to ED and are important to screen for. 

But here, we’re talking specifically about vascular ED, so here’s what to remember about ED caused by a clog.

  • ED can be a warning sign that a heart attack or a stroke may follow, often in the next three to five years. As they say, the penis keeps the score (or something like that), so it really is important to take ED seriously, especially if you know you have heart issues.

  •  Improving your vascular dysfunction with medications and lifestyle modifications (diet, exercise, etc.) is not only necessary to your overall health, but it may also improve your ED.

  •  Additionally, adding a PDE5i medication to your routine can specifically target your ED and help improve erection. 

The good news? You’re in the right place to start treating your ED. We offer ED medications online, including sildenafil, Viagra, tadalafil, Cialis and Stendra

Want to learn more about the causes of ED and treatment options? Check out our guide to erectile dysfunction

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment or medication.

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