Can Caffeine (Coffee) Help Improve Erectile Dysfunction (ED)?

Among the lifestyle choices that help men reduce the risk of developing ED, the ole-reliable coffee bean has never been a strong contender. Can coffee’s secret ingredient, caffeine, be the next big thing to improve erectile dysfunction? Let’s find out.

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What Is Caffeine?

Caffeine is a natural drug most commonly found in coffee beans, teas, and cacao plants. It is a safe psychoactive drug that when consumed in small doses, stimulates the central nervous system to generate an energy buzz to keep one awake and focused for short periods of time (up to 6 hours).


In its natural form, caffeine is a bitter, white crystalline purine. It is one of coffee’s many constituents, adding slight notes of bitterness that gives your cup of coffee that robust punch


How Does Caffeine Work? 

Caffeine works by blocking adenosine receptors in the brain. Adenosine is a natural substance that relaxes blood vessels and inhibits neural activity, causing drowsiness. 


At normal doses, caffeine has been scientifically proven to generally improve reaction time, concentration, wakefulness, and motor coordination. These desired effects tend to set in 1 hour after caffeine consumption and subside after about 3 to 4 hours.

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Can Caffeine Help Improve Erectile Dysfunction (ED)?

Although caffeine is best used to restore drowsiness and fatigue, it has not been a big contender in the treatment against ED. 


While caffeine has found its use in actual medication, treating headaches, migraines, or even breathing problems, scientists are still exploring whether it can help improve ED. 


Erectile dysfunction, a condition that makes it hard to maintain erections, happens when blood flow to the penis is disrupted. This can happen for many reasons, ranging from underlying physical health conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure or psychological causes. 


To combat this, medications for ED work by restoring blood flow to the penis. Popular ED medications like Viagra and other types are vasodilators, dilating blood vessels to promote and increase blood flow back to the penis. 


However, caffeine is a vasoconstrictor - the opposite of a vasodilator. This means that it induces the narrowing of blood vessels, restricting blood flow. 


In theory, if you are suffering from ED, caffeine will not improve your condition and could potentially worsen it. 


As of now, there’s no conclusive evidence that caffeine can act as a natural substitute to pharmaceutical ED treatment such as generic sildenafil or Viagra. 


So, until scientists find a definitive use for caffeine in ED treatment, don’t go about drinking coffee and thinking it’ll help. 

Will Caffeine Increase My Risk Of Developing ED?

Now, if you’re worried that your cup of coffee might be increasing your risk of developing ED, don’t be!


Although caffeine is a vasoconstrictor, researchers have noted that caffeine doesn’t appear to contribute to the risk of developing ED. In fact, small doses of caffeine might actually reduce the likelihood of it - oddly enough! 


One study that analyzed over 3700 men found that those who consumed around 170-375 milligrams (mg) of caffeine - or equivalent to about 2-3 cups of coffee - per day were less likely to report ED compared to men who consumed around 0-7 mg per day. 


However, data collected in the above study are inconclusive, as it was done on a single-question, computer-assisted self-interview. 


At this juncture, caffeine and ED associations need to be investigated further, and more research is needed to confirm how caffeine can impact ED. 


Caffeine shouldn’t be viewed as a replacement for any scientifically proven ED drugs on the market, but a shot of espresso or a cup of cappuccino isn’t going to hurt or negatively affect your sexual performance. 

How Can I Improve My Erectile Dysfunction (ED)

There are many factors that can contribute to ED, and the most common risks can be reduced by improving your lifestyle. 


Some main causes of ED include:

  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Obesity 
  • Increased age 
  • Low testosterone levels
  • High cholesterol 
  • Cardiovascular diseases


If you are able to treat these underlying health conditions, your ED can possibly go away without the need for medication. 


You can prevent or treat some of these conditions by looking to implement some lifestyle changes. Here are 3 simple ways to better yourself and your ED.


1. Shed Those Extra Pounds

If you are overweight, you should monitor your dietary habits. Consume foods that are high in nutrients such as lean meats, fish, and whole grains, while avoiding foods that are high in salt, sugar, and fat. 


Look to also incorporate more exercise into your daily routine. You can also look to talk to a doctor or a dietitian to see how you can lose weight safely.


2. Cut Alcohol And Smoking


Alcohol and smoking are definitive causes that greatly increase your risk of diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular diseases. 


These substances disrupt blood vessels in the penis, causing erectile dysfunction in men as early as 20 years of age. 


If you are looking to reduce your risk of developing ED, now would be a good time to quit. Look to seek medical help if you have a substance abuse problem.


3. Keep Calm And De-stress


Stress and anxiety are one of the main psychological causes of ED. 


They can interrupt brain signals to the penis to allow extra blood flow, leading to a weak erection. But psychological ED such as performance anxiety is completely normal and treatable.


If stress and anxiety interfere with your quality of life, it’s important to talk to a doctor to rule out underlying causes of sexual dysfunction so that they can help you manage your symptoms.


If you would like support for your mental health, we have 1-on-1 therapy sessions here at Noah with licensed psychologists to provide you with the care you need. 

Health Benefits Of Coffee

While caffeine is not considered a proper medical treatment for ED, drinking coffee actually carries many other types of health benefits.


1. Improved Energy And Reaction Times


Drinking coffee can reduce drowsiness and increase energy levels. 


As caffeine is absorbed into the bloodstream, it blocks adenosine receptors, leading to increased norepinephrine and dopamine. The firing of these hormones and neurotransmitters gives you the feeling of energy coursing through your veins. 


Many studies have shown that humans who drink coffee have improved aspects of brain function, including energy levels, reaction times, memory, and general mental function.


These desired effects can drastically improve physical performance by 11-12% on average. If you’re looking to hit the gym, taking a cup of coffee half an hour before your session could net you bigger gains.


2. Reduced Risk Of Alzheimer’s Disease


Drinking coffee may reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease (AD) when older. 


In a study done on women aged 65 and older, researchers have found that drinking about 2-3 cups of coffee a day during your mid-life can reduce the likelihood of developing AD in general. 


Coffee contains many antioxidants, which have a variety of protective effects that could possibly prevent or postpone the onset of AD/ dementia.


3. Liver Protection


Your liver is the largest quintessential solid organ in the body.   


It regulates many vital bodily functions such as removing toxins from the body’s blood supply, maintaining blood sugar levels, regulating blood clotting, just to name a few. 


Some problems like hepatitis or chronic drinking can attack the liver, increasing your risk of developing cirrhosis - a late-stage condition in which your liver is damaged by scarring. 


In multiple studies, drinking coffee can protect against cirrhosis. In one long-term cohort study, coffee consumption was associated with up to an 80% lower risk of developing cirrhosis from alcoholic and non-alcoholic liver causes. 

 

These studies suggest that there are ingredients in coffee that can protect you against cirrhosis, especially alcoholic cirrhosis. 


The above list of health benefits that coffee provides is not exhaustive. Research has shown that drinking coffee is beneficial to health and overall well-being, so head down to your nearest coffee shop and go treat yourself!  

What Is The Recommended Amount of Caffeine I Should Take Per Day?

Caffeine is generally very safe and drinking coffee shouldn’t pose many serious risks.


But as the old saying goes: “Too much of a good thing is a bad thing”.


While caffeine isn’t recommended for children, teens, or pregnant women, some studies have dictated that the maximum caffeine intake per day should be:


  • Healthy adult: 400 mg (or 10 cans of Coca-Cola)
  • Healthy teen (below 14): 100 mg (or 2 cans of Coca-Cola)


To put it into comparison, 400 mg of caffeine typically equates to about 4 cups of coffee (945 ml), or around 10 cans of Coca-Cola, or two “energy shot” drinks - though it should be noted that actual caffeine content in beverages can vary widely. 


So while you shouldn’t consume too much caffeine, don’t feel the pressure to limit yourself to that one cup of coffee a day if you’re a healthy adult. 


But if you’re a teen looking to stave off the tiredness, note that drinking caffeinated coffee can carry some side effects if your body is not used to caffeine. 


How Much Caffeine Is Too Much?


Be careful, high levels of caffeine in your system can be toxic. 


The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cautions against consuming too much caffeine, especially when caffeine comes in powder or liquid form due to their high concentration levels. 


A small teaspoon of powdered caffeine is comparable to 28 cups of coffee and taking too much can lead to caffeine intoxication. In very rare cases, it can result in serious health problems such as grand mal seizures, respiratory failure, and possibly death. 


If your system has an overload of caffeine circulating in it, here are some warning signs to look out for. 


  • Anxiety or excitement
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Insomnia
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Frequent urination


If you experience any of the above symptoms or you suspect that you might have a caffeine overdose, seek medical advice immediately. 

While caffeine intoxication doesn’t bear any long-lasting consequences, high doses of caffeine can interfere with day-to-day living and sometimes cause serious health issues.

Who Shouldn’t Take Caffeine? 


Coffee may be a go-to for many, but for some, it may be good to keep it at arm’s length in order to protect yourself. 


Here are a few things you should consider before downing that cup of coffee. Caffeinated coffee is not recommended for people who:


1. Have Arrhythmias (Irregular Heartbeats)


It might be a good idea to skip that espresso if you have arrhythmias.


Caffeine can worsen heart palpitations (a feeling as if your heart is racing or skipping a beat) associated with arrhythmias. While they aren’t usually dangerous, their effects can worsen anxiety and interfere with day-to-day life. 


2. Have Trouble Sleeping 


Drinking caffeinated coffee fights against drowsiness and consuming it is counterintuitive if you want to fall asleep. 


Since caffeine prevents adenosine from being received by the brain, it stimulates an energy boost that makes you feel awake. 


But once the effects of caffeine start to wear off (after around 4-6 hours), an inevitable caffeine crash can occur, resulting in tiredness, irritability, and an inability to concentrate. 


3. Are Pregnant

Pregnant women should try their best to steer clear of caffeine. 


As caffeine increases blood pressure and heart rate, these effects could be dangerous for the baby.


In addition, caffeine can diffuse across the placental wall from the mother to the baby. Studies have shown that pregnant women who consume caffeine during preterm birth are more likely to have kids that develop behavioral issues later in life. 


4. Are Children And Teens


Children and teens - especially those under 14 - should avoid caffeine consumption if possible. 


Studies have shown that caffeine consumption can upset the sleep cycle of growing teens, who should aim to get at least 9 hours of sleep each day. Consequently, this can result in slower brain maturation in teens. 


On average, children and teens also have smaller body weights compared to adults. This means that caffeine will have a stronger effect on them, putting them at greater risk of caffeine-related symptoms such as anxiety, gastrointestinal issues, and insomnia. 

The Takeaway

The link between caffeine and ED is still unclear due to limited studies. 


But current research points towards limiting caffeine consumption if you are experiencing ED, as caffeine is a vasoconstrictor.


Caffeine is also not a natural substitute for the treatment of ED. If you would like to treat your ED, look to arrange a consultation with a licensed doctor to rule out causes such as underlying health conditions. 


At Noah, you can arrange for a consultation by visiting our website and answering an online evaluation. You will be able to arrange for a teleconsultation session with a licensed doctor at your convenience. 


If prescribed, your medication will be delivered straight to your door in discreet packaging within 4 hours, at no additional cost. 


At the end of the day, there’s a reason why coffee is one of the world’s most popular beverages. In moderation, it’s delicious, safe, and provides many health benefits. So go ahead and spice up your life with that aromatic dark roast or that tantalising icy frappuccino you’ve been craving!


DISCLAIMER

Articles featured on Noah are for informational purposes only and should not be constituted as medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you have any medical questions or concerns, please talk to your healthcare provider. If you're looking for a healthcare provider, click here.

References

Brice, Carolyn, and Andrew Smith. “Effects of Caffeine on Mood and Performance: A Study of Realistic Consumption.” Psychopharmacology, vol. 164, no. 2, 2002, pp. 188–192., https://doi.org/10.1007/s00213-002-1175-2. [Link]

Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, FDA. “Pure and Highly Concentrated Caffeine.” U.S. Food and Drug Administration, FDA, https://www.fda.gov/food/dietary-supplement-products-ingredients/pure-and-highly-concentrated-caffeine. [Link]

Chang, K.M. “Coffee, Cirrhosis, and Transaminase Enzymes.” Yearbook of Gastroenterology, vol. 2007, 2007, pp. 266–267., https://doi.org/10.1016/s0739-5930(08)70214-9. [Link]

Corrao, Giovanni, et al. “Coffee, Caffeine, and the Risk of Liver Cirrhosis.” Annals of Epidemiology, vol. 11, no. 7, 2001, pp. 458–465., https://doi.org/10.1016/s1047-2797(01)00223-x. [Link]

Curtis, Lindsay. “Does Coffee Improve Erectile Dysfunction?” Verywell Health, 22 Sept. 2021, https://www.verywellhealth.com/caffeine-and-erectile-dysfunction-5199882. [Link]

Doherty, Mike, and Paul M. Smith. “Effects of Caffeine Ingestion on Exercise Testing: A Meta-Analysis.” International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, vol. 14, no. 6, 2004, pp. 626–646., https://doi.org/10.1123/ijsnem.14.6.626. [Link]

Gunnars, Kris. “13 Health Benefits of Coffee, Based on Science.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 20 Sept. 2018, https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/top-13-evidence-based-health-benefits-of-coffee#TOC_TITLE_HDR_2. [Link]

Lieberman, H.R., et al. “The Effects of Low Doses of Caffeine on Human Performance and Mood.” Psychopharmacology, vol. 92, no. 3, 1987, pp. 308–312., https://doi.org/10.1007/bf00210835. [Link]

Maslova, Ekaterina, et al. “Caffeine Consumption during Pregnancy and Risk of Preterm Birth: A Meta-Analysis.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vol. 92, no. 5, 2010, pp. 1120–1132., https://doi.org/10.3945/ajcn.2010.29789. [Link]

Nawrot, P., et al. “Effects of Caffeine on Human Health.” Food Additives and Contaminants, vol. 20, no. 1, 2003, pp. 1–30., https://doi.org/10.1080/0265203021000007840. [Link]

Smith, A.P., et al. “Investigation of the Effects of Coffee on Alertness and Performance during the Day and Night.” Neuropsychobiology, vol. 27, no. 4, 1993, pp. 217–223., https://doi.org/10.1159/000118984. [Link] 

Thornton, Philip. “Caffeine Uses, Effects & Safety Information.” Drugs.com, 19 Mar. 2021, https://www.drugs.com/caffeine.html. [Link] 

University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics. “Understanding Heart Palpitations.” University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics, Aug. 2016, https://uihc.org/health-topics/understanding-heart-palpitations. [Link] 

Watson, Emily J., et al. “The Relationship between Caffeine, Sleep, and Behavior in Children.” Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, vol. 13, no. 04, 2017, pp. 533–543., https://doi.org/10.5664/jcsm.6536. [Link] 

Zhang, Yuan, et al. “Consumption of Coffee and Tea and Risk of Developing Stroke, Dementia, and Poststroke Dementia: A Cohort Study in the UK Biobank.” PLOS Medicine, vol. 18, no. 11, 2021, https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1003830. [Link]  


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Published On
December 20, 2021

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