A recent study makes the link between older men with restless leg syndrome and the problem of erectile dysfunction. Apparently the magnitude of this association increased along with the higher frequency of RLS symptoms.
Leading the study
is Xiang Gao, MD, PhD, instructor at Harvard Medical School as well as associate epidemiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and research scientist at the Harvard School of public health in Boston. Dr. Gao says that the results of this study suggest that it is likely that the two disorders of RLS and erectile dysfunction share common mechanisms. “The mechanisms underlying the association could be caused by hypofunctioning of dopamine in the central nervous system, which is associated with both conditions
The authors of the study have made a special note that the association between RLS and erectile dysfunction could also be related in part to other sleep disorders that co-occur with RLS. For example, obstructive sleep apnea and sleep deprivation may decrease circulating testosterone levels.
Restless leg syndrome
RLS or restless leg syndrome
is a condition caused by a disorder in the central nervous system and the name really tells you exactly what it is. The disorder can worsen with age. The symptoms are unpleasant sensations in the legs, an uncontrollable urge to move while trying to rest. Some describe the sensations as if there are insects crawling inside the legs together with a burning, creeping or tugging feeling. These sensations can vary from just plain uncomfortable, to irritating, to really painful and distressing.
The big problem is that the condition only arises when you go to lie down, rest and try to sleep. Sufferers have difficulty both falling asleep and staying asleep so that that they suffer from exhaustion and the quality of their lives can be severely affected.
Life becomes one vicious cycle.
If you suffer from RLS especially if it is mild, you can help the condition by following these tips
During the day:
- Reduce, or preferably cut out altogether, caffeine, alcohol and tobacco use.
- Take iron supplements if you have low iron levels – but be sure to get tested first as too much iron in your system can be dangerous.
- Try wrapping your legs in ace bandages or wear compression stockings to see if this helps.
- Start an exercise program such as every half hour or hour at work, get up, stretch and walk around for 5 minutes. Do leg stretching exercises frequently.
- Keep a sleep schedule so you have a record if you need to show your doctor.
- If you have to go on a long car trip or long distance flight, make sure you exercise and stretch or just walk around as frequently as you can.
- Stretch your legs, do knee bends or rotate the ankles.
- Massage your legs and use a healing natural product for relief and treatment.
- Relax with meditation, yoga or deep breathing.
- Have a bath or soak your feet in hot water. Apply a hot water bottle or heating pad. Some people find comfort from a cold compression.
- Try lying on your side with a pillow between your knees.
If nothing is helping, then make sure you seek medical help. Insist on a correct diagnosis and help with treatment. This is a surprisingly common condition and it sometimes takes a night in a sleep lab so that proper observation and monitoring can be carried out to rule out any other sleep disorder.
If you are also suffering from erectile dysfunction as well as RLS, then you will know from the recent study mentioned at the beginning of this article that you are not alone. It is now known that many men have both conditions. Erectile dysfunction is very common and affects nearly 50% of all men over the age of 40 at some point, with 70% of cases thought to have physical causes and 30% psychological causes. But some have both. ED is considered to be a serious problem when it occurs consistently or for a long period of time.
Apart from RLS these conditions can all be causes: diabetes, vascular disease, veno-occlusive disease, MS, spinal cord injury, Parkinson’s disease and damage following surgery. Psychological causes such as anxiety and guilt, relationship issues, stress, depression, boredom and sexual orientation are also a possibility. In addition, medicines and lifestyle can be contributing factors.
It is important to remember the following when treating ED
Although the numbers of men who suffer from both conditions are thought to be small, the prevalence increases with age.
- Share your worries.
- Place less emphasis on intercourse and more on developing other forms of sexual intimacy.
- Think about undergoing a course of counseling or therapy.
- Practice a healthier lifestyle.
- Research what treatments are available.
- Consider a natural healing product which will boost your self esteem and confidence by allowing you to get an erection and maintain it for as long as desired.