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The Link Between Restless Legs Syndrome and ED

The onslaught of symptoms is starting to get annoying. Your body used to be just fine no matter how hard you pushed it, but it isn’t working as well as it used to. You’re having trouble sleeping, your leg twitches as soon as you hit the bed, and when you want to relax by having sex with your partner … well, that’s not happening either.

Whether you regard it as good news or not, many of your symptoms could be related, even though they don’t seem to have a logical link. Restless legs syndrome (RLS) and erectile dysfunction (ED), for instance, are two symptoms that tend to appear together. In fact, studies have shown that men who suffer from RLS at least 15 times a month are twice as likely to have ED than men without RLS. 

At Men's T Clinic — with locations in Dallas, Frisco, The Colony, Houston, Cypress, Pearland, and Pasadena, and Spring, Texas — our all-male physicians want you to feel comfortable and satisfied in bed, whether you’re having sex, snoozing, or both. Here they discuss some of the latest research on RLS and ED, and what you can do to feel happier at night.

It’s not in your head … except when it is

While no single cause has been identified for RLS, the condition is associated with low levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine. Your brain produces dopamine and uses it to send signals throughout your body. 

This powerful chemical messenger affects all kinds of functions, including your:

There’s more, but you can already imagine how having too little dopamine might lead to symptoms, such as excess movement in your legs, disrupted sleep, and insufficient blood flow to your penis.

It’s all about sleep

You might have difficulty sleeping these days (partially thanks to all of the articles you keep reading about how not getting enough sleep impacts your health). Having RLS compounds the issue. When your leg isn’t relaxed, the twitching, burning, and uncomfortable sensations wake you up … and then you think about those articles again.

Though reduced levels of dopamine might be affecting both your RLS and your ED, it’s the lack of restful sleep that’s having the most impact on your sex life. When you don’t get enough sleep, you can’t produce the testosterone you need to achieve a satisfying and lasting erection. And when your testosterone levels plummet, it’s harder to fall asleep and stay asleep, too.

Fix the RLS first

Our doctors recommend that you first adopt some lifestyle changes that might help your legs relax so you can get a good night’s rest. In addition to low dopamine levels, many men with RLS have deficiencies in important nutrients such as Vitamin D and iron. When your body doesn’t get essential nutrients, it can’t produce the hormones and chemicals it needs to stay healthy, including dopamine.

Try exercising earlier in the day. Include more fresh foods in your diet. Modify your bedtime routine by adding in a:

You might also try cutting down on caffeine and taking a vitamin D supplement and an iron supplement. If these measures don’t calm down your legs and give you a better night’s sleep, our doctors may prescribe a medication such as pramipexole, ropinirole, or gabapentin.

Once you’re sleeping better, your ED should improve, too. If not, your Men’s T-Clinic physician may recommend testosterone replacement therapy. 

Contact the office nearest you by phone or through the online booking form so you can get the deep, restful sleep you deserve to improve your health — and your sex life, too.

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