Around the world many people enjoy getting a coffee to get that caffeine fix to help keep them going throughout the day. But do the effects of this popular beverage carry over into the bedroom?
Among American men aged 20+ an estimated 18.4% will experience erectile dysfunction, by the age of 40 this number increases to 44%, and by the age of 70 this increases to 70%. At any age erectile dysfunction can compromise the quality of life, beside the personal cost the financial cost can also be high, if all men affected by ED sought out treatment it could total around $15 billion annually.
There are many factors that can increase the risk of a man experiencing erectile dysfunction including smoking, obesity, heart disease, alcohol, and a sedentary lifestyle. Little is known about other factors that may influence erections such as caffeine, and moreover could coffee have erectile effects that are separate from the caffeine itself.
85% of American consumers consume some form of caffeine which is mostly in the form of coffee, soda/pop, tea, and energy drinks; nearly two thirds drink coffee, and over half drink 1 or more glasses of soda every day. However, coffee contains antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents unlike other sugar sweetened beverages.
Caffeine/coffee is suggested to trigger a pharmacologic cascade that results in relaxation of cavernous smooth muscle which can help with erectile dysfunction. Coffee also contains erection friendly polyphenols that may help to amp up testosterone concentration to enhance blood flow to the penis.
Despite the prevalence of erectile dysfunction and popularity of caffeine little is known about the effects. PLoS One published a study in which the researchers hoped to gain understandings an end the guesswork; they reviewed data from NHANES for respondent’s self reported erectile dysfunction and their 24 hour dietary recall among 3,724 men to assess the relationship between coffee/caffeinated beverages and erectile dysfunction.
There was no overall trend, men in the 85-170 mg/day third quintile and men in the 171-303 mg/day fourth quintile of caffeine ingestion reported less erectile dysfunction that men in the 0-7 mg/day first quintile. Drinking between 2-3 cups of coffee was linked to lower rate of ED, and men who were overweight, obese, and hypertensive who drank more caffeine experienced less erectile dysfunction (this result did not apply to thise with diabetes).
To confirm NHANES study results the researchers examined the relationship in a larger group of men in a study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology; data from HPTS resulted in a sample of 21,403 men of whom 7,298 had ED. Total, regular, and decaffeinated coffee intake was recorded to investigate the association among men with lifestyle factors and comorbid conditions like hypertension, diabetes, marital status, smoking history, and obesity.
“We did not find an association, either positive or negative, between total or regular coffee intake and ED,” they concluded. “None of the modifiable lifestyle factors influenced the association of coffee intake with ED.”
No link was found between regular coffee at any level of intake and erectile dysfunction. A correlation was found between decaf coffee intake and erectile dysfunction, with those having the highest intake of 4+ cups/day experiencing a 37% increased risk. Only 0.9% of the participants were heavy decaf drinkers, decaffeination removes the polyphenols and anti-inflammatory compounds, and the heavy decaf drinkers had increased rate of smoking, lipid levels, and BMI; the association between higher levels of decaf and ED was only observed in smokers suggesting the possibility of residual confounding.
The value of the 2 studies demonstrates the importance of following up retrospective research. To date research on the association between erectile dysfunction and caffeine/coffee is limited and mixed, with the most high powered and prospective indicating no association, and at the very least not interfering with erectile function. It may be nice to think that cup of coffee may be helping with erections, but according to research, it appears as if that cuppa java is a no no for your mojo.