Erectile dysfunction (ED) is one of the most common sexual problems encountered by men. It affects approximately 30 million men in the United States alone.

You must have heard many times how inclined UFC fighters are to become ED at some point in their careers. Factors like overtraining, steroid abuse, or a poor diet all contribute to this affliction. Erectile dysfunction, however, is treatable in most cases and can be combated with medications or natural remedies.

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

What is erectile dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is the inability to maintain or achieve an erection that is firm enough to have sex. It is normal for men to sometimes have erection problems.

Sometimes you might have difficulty getting an erection due to stress, anxiety, or alcohol abuse. Erectile dysfunction only becomes a problem if it occurs regularly or progresses over time. It could indicate a deeper underlying problem.

Erectile dysfunction can hamper your sex life and possibly undermine your self-confidence. It’s no secret that men often equate their sexual prowess with their masculinity. This thought process might be more important in athletes like UFC fighters, as their profession is built around power and brute strength.

What are the causes of ED?

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

You may have also heard of “performance anxiety,” a fear of sexual failure that causes a man to become overly anxious before sex and therefore fail to achieve or maintain an erection.

Medical conditions: Erectile dysfunction can also be due to an underlying medical problem. Men with conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure are more likely to suffer from erectile dysfunction. Nerve damage from an accident can also cause erectile dysfunction.

Hormonal issues: Hormonal imbalance in men can lead to erectile dysfunction. If a man has an increase in prolactin (a hormone that increases breast growth), he is more likely to have erectile dysfunction.

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

Why are UFC fighters developing ED?

You must have come across the rumor that UFC fighters are more likely to develop erectile dysfunction. The question remains, how much of the truth is there? Research has proven that exercising and maintaining a healthy lifestyle increases virility and increases testosterone levels.

UFC fighters spend hours on their fitness and work hard to train and perfect their bodies. So where do these rumors come from? Let’s take a look at why UFC fighters are prone to developing ED.

Diet: The fighters are subjected to diets rich in carbohydrates, proteins and fats. They often need to make a certain weight which measures similar to their opponent in a fight.

If a fighter’s diet is high in saturated fat, it can thicken their blood vessels, decreasing blood flow to the penis. Jeans Hendricks, a former champion, found himself in a mess after bragging about eating fast food burgers before a fight.

From the 2012 article on UFC.com. Hendricks was known for his love of foods that didn’t help with weight loss, shall we say later.

Not only did Hendricks fail to reach the right weight for his next game, he also continued to eat an unbalanced diet. Likewise, some fighters may indulge in a diet high in carbohydrates and fats which lead to erectile dysfunction.

Overtraining: HIIT exercises improve erection capacity while showing positive effects on your metabolic and sexual health. UFC fighters, however, often subject their bodies to vigorous overtraining. Everything, when overdone, ceases to be good for your body.

The 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 subject their bodies to intense training without adequate recovery, they also open up to fatigue, stress and anxiety.

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

Testosterone levels: In 2013, Alistair Overeem the 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 low testosterone levels.

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

Some studies have shown that lower testosterone levels can lead to erectile dysfunction. Rarely, low testosterone levels alone cause erectile dysfunction. Erection problems are often caused by other contributing factors as well as low levels of male hormones.

Nerve damage: Your body is controlled by nerves that run through every muscle. The penis is innervated by the cavernous nerve which can be damaged in pelvic fractures or injuries involving the groin area. Almost 69% of men with sexual problems have peripheral nerve damage.

Fighters often participate in risky matches resulting in serious injuries that can lead to serious nerve damage and bone fractures. A fighter who suffers from an injury to an erectile-controlling nerve is very likely to develop erectile dysfunction.

How do UFC fighters restore their sexual strength?

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

UFC fighters often use prescription drugs to fight erectile dysfunction. The case of Anderson silva, a former UFC middleweight champion, is a prime example.

The fighter tested positive for drostanolone, a banned anabolic steroid. He attributed the steroid’s presence to a contaminated erectile dysfunction drug he obtained from Thailand.

ufc champion Jon jones was banned for a year after taking a similar contaminated pill used to manage erectile dysfunction. The fighter thought he was taking Cialis, an erectile dysfunction drug, but ended up using Tadalafil that another teammate had bought.

Jon Jones often makes the headlines for mischief, “boners” so to speak. (Image from BBC website story)

In both cases, the fighters admitted to using erectile dysfunction pills when they failed their respective drug tests. Silva admitted that he didn’t mention his use of erectile dysfunction drugs before the embarrassment test. This stigma and shame associated with erectile dysfunction often makes it difficult for men to seek help even when the condition is treatable.

Treatments available for ED

There are several prescription drugs that can help men manage erectile dysfunction. These medicines belong to a group of medicines called PDE-5 (phosphodiesterase-5 inhibitors). Erectile dysfunction drugs contain chemicals from this group and work within 30 to 60 minutes.

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

ED treatment at Noah offers other authorized prescription drugs that contain sildenafil as an active ingredient and work just like Viagra.

Tadalafil: Tadalafil treats erectile dysfunction by increasing blood flow to the penis when combined with sexual stimulation. It relaxes the organ’s blood vessels 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 drug which shows its effect within 15 minutes of taking the pill. Avanafil has fewer side effects and fewer drug interactions. It is one of the safest and fastest drugs available today.

Natural treatments:

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

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

Yoga: The practice of yoga is an effective way to fight against stress and anxiety. Since psychological factors contribute to erection problems, yoga can help you relieve your erectile dysfunction symptoms effectively. Some daily light yoga is a great way to revitalize your energy and improve the signs of erectile dysfunction.

Final take

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

UFC fighters often have to follow strict diets and put their bodies under vigorous training. Any of these reasons could contribute to the development of erectile dysfunction in fighters at some point in their lives.

Sometimes a combination of these factors work together to affect their erectile function. This condition is treatable with medication and lifestyle changes. Many UFC fighters opt for erectile dysfunction drugs that help them deal with their sexual dysfunction, however, many are embarrassed to talk about it.


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