In women, reduced blood flow to the genital area can impede arousal, make it harder to reach orgasm, or make orgasms less satisfying.
Scary stat: Researchers at the Mayo clinic followed men ages 40-49 with erectile dysfunction and found they were twice as likely to develop heart disease as those with no sexual health problems.
Another study looked backward and found that two out of three men being treated for cardiovascular disease had suffered from erectile dysfunction, often for years, before they were diagnosed with heart trouble.
Why it happens: Narrowing and hardening of the arteries restricts blood flow to the penis, which can give men trouble when it comes to getting or keeping an erection.
And because those arteries are smaller than the ones leading to the heart, erectile dysfunction can occur before any other sign of artery stiffness.
Lack of oxygen can also lead to ongoing fatigue and weakness, which can sabotage libido, so lack of desire may accompany lack of success.
What to do: If you or your partner has difficulty getting or maintaining an erection or has problems with sexual satisfaction, that’s reason enough to visit your doctor to investigate cardiovascular disease as an underlying cause.
Get a full workup to assess possible causes of erectile dysfunction or difficulty with orgasm. (Guys, see your GP, not just a urologist; gals, don’t just see an ob/gyn.) If your doctor doesn’t mention heart tests, request them.