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Why Do So Many UFC Fighters Have Erectile Dysfunction?

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Erectile Dysfunction (ED) is one of the most common sex problems faced by men. It affects around 30 million men in the USA alone.

You must have often heard about how UFC fighters are prone to geting ED at some point in their career. Factors like overtraining, abuse of steroids or the wrong diet all contribute to this affliction. ED, however, is treatable in most cases and can be combated through medications or natural remedies.

Have you wondered if there is any truth to the rumour that UFC fighters are more prone to ED? This article will answer your question while shedding light on the risk factors behind the condition and the treatments available to manage it. Read on to learn more.

What is Erectile Dysfunction?

Erectile Dysfunction (ED) is the inability to maintain or get an erection firm enough to have sexual intercourse. It is normal for men to have some problems with erections occasionally.

You might sometimes face difficulty in getting an erection due to stress, anxiety or alcohol abuse. ED only becomes a problem if it occurs routinely or progresses with time. This might indicate a deeper underlying issue.

ED can hamper your sex life and eventually undermine your confidence. It is no secret that men often relate their sexual prowess to their masculinity. This thought process might be more prominent in athletes like UFC fighters since their profession is built around power and brute force.

What are the causes of ED?

Psychological reasons: Stress, anxiety, depression or guilt are the most common psychological causes behind ED. These factors make up for 10%-20% of all cases of erectile dysfunction.

You might have also heard of “performance anxiety”, a fear of sexual failure that leads to a man becoming overly anxious before a sexual encounter and thus fails to get or maintain an erection.

Medical conditions: ED can also be caused due to an underlying medical issue. Men with diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure are more likely to experience erectile dysfunction. Nerve injuries due to an accident can also cause ED.

Hormonal issues: Hormonal imbalance in men can result in ED. If a man has increased prolactin (a hormone that increases breast growth), they are more likely to have ED.

Abuse of anabolic steroids can throw your hormones off balance and cause ED. In some cases, low testosterone levels, the main sex hormone in men, can cause ED.

Why do UFC fighters develop ED?

You must have come across the rumour that UFC fighters are more likely to develop ED. The question remains, how much truth is there to this? Research has proved that exercise and maintaining a healthy lifestyle increases virility and boosts testosterone levels.

UFC fighters spend hours on their fitness and work hard to train and hone their bodies. Then where do these rumours stem from? Let’s take a look at the reasons why UFC fighters are prone to develop ED.

Diet: Fighters are put on diets that are high in carbs, proteins and fats. They often need to make a certain weight that measures similar to their opponent in a fight.

If a fighter’s diet is heavy in saturated fats, that can thicken his blood vessels, decreasing blood flow to the penis. Johny Hendricks, a former champion, found himself in a hot mess after bragging about eating fast food burgers before a fight.

Excerpt from 2012 piece on UFC.com. Hendricks was known for his love of foods that didn’t help weight cuts, shall we say, later.

Not only did Hendricks fail to meet the right weight for his next match, but he also continued to be on an imbalanced diet. Similarly, some fighters might indulge in a diet rich in carbs and fats that lead to ED.

Overtraining: HIIT exercises improve erection capacity while also showing positive effects on your metabolic and sexual health. UFC fighters, however, often put their bodies through vigorous overtraining. Anything, when overdone, stops being good for your body.

Journal of Sexual Medicine reported that intense overtraining with weights increases the stiffness of blood vessels. This directly increases a fighter’s risk of developing erectile dysfunction.

When fighters put their bodies through intense training without adequate recovery, they also open themselves to fatigue, stress and anxiety.

Other side effects of overtraining include mood swings, decreased testosterone levels and low libido. These factors also contribute to the development of erectile dysfunction.

Testosterone levels: In 2013, Alistair Overeem blood reports shocked people for a different reason. The UFC fighter had “dangerously low testosterone levels” for a competitive athlete. People wondered why a young fighter would have such dramatically low levels of testosterone.

Low testosterone levels could arise due to hypogonadism, a condition in which your sex glands produce little to no sex hormones. It could also occur due to previous abuse of steroids.

Some studies have shown that declining levels of testosterone can lead to erectile dysfunction. It is rare for low testosterone levels alone to cause ED. Erection problems are often caused by other contributing factors along with low male hormones.

Nerve injuries: Your body is controlled by nerves that run along the entirety of every muscle. The penis is innervated by the cavernous nerve that can get damaged during pelvic fractures or injuries involving the groin area. Nearly 69% of men with sexual problems have peripheral nerve damage.

Fighters often get into risky matches resulting in severe injuries that can lead to serious nerve damage and bone fractures. A fighter who suffers an injury to a nerve that controls erection is highly likely to develop erectile dysfunction.

How Do UFC Fighters Restore Their Sexual Strength?

Although ED is debilitating and can cause embarrassment, it is important to remember that the condition is treatable in most cases. There are various treatment options available for men who want to manage erectile dysfunction.

UFC fighters often use prescription medicines to combat ED. The case of Anderson Silva, a former UFC middleweight champion, is a prime example of this.

The fighter tested positive for drostanolone, a banned anabolic steroid. He attributed the presence of the steroid to a contaminated erectile dysfunction medication that he got from Thailand.

UFC champion Jon Jones was banned for one year after he reportedly took a similar contaminated pill used to manage erectile dysfunction. The fighter thought he was taking Cialis, an ED medication, but he ended up using Tadalafil that another teammate had bought.

Jon Jones often makes the news for misdeed, “boners” as it were. (Image from BBC website story)

In both cases, the fighters admitted to using ED pills when they failed their respective drug tests. Silva admitted that he didn’t mention his use of ED medication prior to the test out of embarrassment. This stigma and shame attached to erectile dysfunction often prevent men from asking for help even when the condition is treatable.

Treatments available for ED

Several prescription drugs can help men in managing erectile dysfunction. These medications belong to a group of drugs called PDE-5 (phosphodiesterase-5 inhibitors). ED medications contain chemical salts from this group and act within 30 to 60 minutes.

Sildenafil: This drug is a popular treatment for erectile dysfunction. It works by increasing the blood flow to the penis and helps a man in maintaining an erection. The popular Viagra contains sildenafil citrate and is often used by men to manage ED.

The ED treatment at Noah offers other licensed prescription medications that contain sildenafil as the active ingredient and works exactly like Viagra.

Tadalafil: Tadalafil treats ED by increasing blood flow to the penis when combined with sexual stimulation. It relaxes the blood vessels of the organ and allows the penis to become hard and erect. Tadalafil is also beneficial in treating the symptoms of an enlarged prostate.

Avanafil: This drug is a second-generation ED medication that shows its effect within 15 minutes of taking the pill. Avanafil has fewer side effects and lesser drug interactions. It is one of the safest and fastest-acting medications currently available.

Natural Treatments:

Kegel exercises: These exercises are simple movements that strengthen your pelvic floor. A study revealed that men who combined kegel exercises with lifestyle changes saw a significant improvement in their penile function.

To perform Kegel exercises, you need to contract your pelvic floor muscles and contract them for 3 seconds. Release it after three seconds and repeat the exercise 20 times three times a day.

Yoga: Practicing yoga is an effective way of combating stress and anxiety. Since psychological factors contribute to erection problems, yoga can help you ease your ED symptoms effectively. Some daily light yoga is a great way to revitalise your energy and improve signs of ED.

Final Take

Erectile Dysfunction is a common sexual dysfunction that hampers your ability to get and maintain an erection. It can be caused due to multiple factors, including diet, stress, anxiety or underlying medical conditions.

UFC fighters have to follow strict diets often and put their bodies under vigorous training. Any of these reasons could contribute to the fighters developing ED at some point in their life.

Sometimes a combination of these factors works together to affect their erectile function. This condition is treatable through medications and lifestyle changes. Many UFC fighters opt for ED medications that help them manage their sexual dysfunction, however, many are embarrassed to talk about the same.

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