Health & Fitness

Managing erectile dysfunction linked to lower back pain

It all starts with admitting to the problem.
It all starts with admitting to the problem. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Our bodies are a complex structure of connected parts that can either work well together or cease to function properly when one area is affected. When your back hurts, you do not feel like having sex. Men suffering from both back pain and erectile dysfunction may be surprised to find out that the back pain could be causing the erectile dysfunction commonly referred to as ED. It is always a concern when that happens.

The process of getting an erection begins when something sexually stimulating impacts the senses, making the muscles of the penis relax and blood flow increases to the area which then pushes against the veins carrying blood out so that they are blocked and thus an erection is created. Erectile dysfunction is then usually caused by blood flow being disrupted, slowed or hindered throughout the body.

Back issues can cause ED when veins and nerves are pinched, leading to less blood flow to the pelvic area. Several causes of back pain that can cause ED include:

•Tight hip flexors

•Pinched nerves


•Herniated discs

You do not need to live with nerve damage that decreases sensation in your groin and creates lack of blood flow in your penis. To prevent back pain and ED from being permanently linked in your life, you need to understand the three ways that back pain and ED are linked. Then you need to take action to prevent and reverse any of these issues that could be impacting your sexual performance.

Tight hip flexors and ED

Do you know where your psoas are? These muscles run from your low back spine through your groin and into your hip; simply called hip flexors. When they become tight they can cause compression in your groin area. That compression can lead to reduced blood flow and other problems. You do not believe that is possible? Surgeries or injuries that affect the pelvic area or spinal cord have been listed as one common cause of ED.

Sitting down may be the worst thing for tight, painful hip flexors. Sitting causes your hips to shift forward and your legs to rotate. The hip socket gets compressed, causing all sorts of tendons, joints and muscles to pull in ways they should not. That makes your back hurt. It makes your hips hurt. It makes your legs hurt. The pain and problems cause you emotional and physical stress and that sends a signal to your brain that something is wrong.

Your reproductive system gets the message too. The hips are really important for most guys when having sex, losing the ability to flex your hips correctly can lead to a less satisfying experience.

Pinched nerves and ED

The pudendal nerve allows you to have sensation in your genitalia and the surrounding area, so it is pretty important. Obviously, damage to this crucial nerve can cause ED, loss of sexual interest and many other problems. This nerve has a unique relationship with the low back/lumbar spine. It is known that lumbar spine inflammation can cause pain in the lower back. It is also known that inflammation can cause compression on the pudendal nerve. This leads to chronic numbness in the penis, scrotum and testicles. When you solve the inflammation, you solve the two problems.

Herniated disc and ED

This can cause ED as well; since spinal disc herniation can disrupt many bodily systems. Watch out for so-called “slipped discs”, because the condition is a bulge rather than a slip when:

•You have a hard impact on your back

•You lift something that is too heavy

•You cough and sneeze in the wrong way

•You have an idiopathic (don’t know what happened to cause damage) tear in the ring around a disc.

It is known that lower back issues can negatively impact your sex life. Not enough attention is paid to sexual problems by the average medic. You need to take action to deal with your back pain and related ED.

Painkillers are not the answer. In a study in the journal Spine (Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2013 May 15; 38(11): 909–915.), more than 11,000 men with back pain were in the study, and more than 19 percent of those who took the highest-dosage painkillers over the long term also got prescription impotence. And things got worse with age.


•It all starts with admitting to the problem.

•Work with a chiropractor and a physical therapist to deal with your back pain and ED before things get worse for you. This will deal with herniated disc and pinched nerves.

•A therapist will relieve inflammation and any muscle spasm. Give exercises to strengthen weakened muscles in the hip and lower back.

•It is important to avoid sitting too long which makes the hip flexors shortened.

•Choose to lead a healthier, more active lifestyle and habits that increase rather than inhibit your ability to have satisfying sex.

EUNICE KABANA, Chiropractic & Physiotherapy Health Centre