Coffee for a Better Sex Life
Lots of people can't make it through the day without a cup (or four) of coffee. They rely on its caffeine kick to help wake them up in the morning and then again to make it through the afternoon when they're feeling sluggish. But drinking coffee just might offer some additional perks that you probably wouldn't expect, like enhanced performance in the bedroom. New research suggests that men who drink coffee may have fewer problems with impotence than men who abstain from caffeine.
The study, which was conducted at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, found that higher levels of daily caffeine consumption are associated with a lower risk of experiencing erectile dysfunction.1 The subjects were more than 3,700 men taking part in the United States National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). They provided responses to questions that included the amount of caffeine they had consumed within the previous 24-hour period.
The men who reported consuming between 85 and 170 milligrams of caffeine per day were found to have a 42 percent reduced chance of having erectile dysfunction compared to the men who said their caffeine intake was between zero and seven mg daily. That 85 to 170 mg range is the equivalent of one to two cups of coffee, depending on how strongly it is brewed. Consuming an even greater amount of caffeine--between 171 and 303 mg, or the equivalent of three to four cups--was determined to be slightly less advantageous for sexual function. The men with a caffeine intake in this range had a 39 percent lower likelihood of erectile dysfunction over those with little to no caffeine consumption.
And these findings held true even in men who were overweight, obese, or had high blood pressure, all of which are risk factors for erectile dysfunction. Interestingly though, the participants with higher caffeine intake who also happened to be diabetic did not have a lower incidence of erectile dysfunction. They did not receive the beneficial effect from the caffeine.
How can caffeine work to prevent erectile dysfunction? The exact process is not clear, but the scientists suggest that it may promote relaxation of smooth muscles and arteries within the penis that serve to enhance blood flow and therefore the ability to have and maintain an erection. This is somewhat contrary to the fact that caffeine is known to restrict blood vessels, which logically would promote more dysfunction. But for some reason, that does not appear to occur, at least in that one area of the body.
While the study was not designed to prove cause and effect, it did show a strong association between greater caffeine intake and reduced instances of impotence. Not surprisingly, coffee was not the only source of caffeine the men were drinking. Other beverages they listed as part of their caffeine intake were tea, sodas, and energy drinks. If you want to consider a daily dose of caffeine consumption to potentially benefit your health, however, you should definitely cross the sodas and energy drinks off your shopping list. While they can provide 30 to 35 mg of caffeine per 12-ounce can of cola and up to more than 200 mg of caffeine in a serving of some energy drinks, they also offer lots of extra sugar and additives and have been linked with conditions ranging from obesity and diabetes to tooth decay.
Black tea, on the other hand, can provide some positive effects, including lowering blood sugar levels along with a dose of caffeine. But since many types of tea are decaffeinated and even those with the highest levels of caffeine only offer 15 to 70 milligrams per cup, coffee is often the drink of choice for individuals seeking that caffeine boost. Just be careful not to overdo it. While it's true that drinking coffee has been linked in studies to various health benefits such as preventing Alzheimer's disease, protecting the liver, and reducing the risk of stroke, overloading on caffeine can contribute to quite a few problems including insomnia, irritability, and headaches.
As in most things in life, take your coffee consumption in moderation. In the current study, men benefited the most when they drank one to two cups a day. Get your caffeine kick in the morning, when you are most likely to need the jolt it provides anyway, then try not to have coffee or any other sources of caffeine for the remainder of the day. That should give you the health advantages without nearly so many of the adverse effects of caffeine.
- 1. Preidt, Robert. "Coffee May Help Men Keep Impotence at Bay." WebMD. 21 May 2015. Accessed 27 May 2015. http://www.webmd.com/men/news/20150521/coffee-may-help-men-keep-impotence-at-bay