At this time of the year, it’s common to have a stuffy nose and feel a bit under the weather. This can leave you feeling tetchy and low in energy, and interfere with your sleep and ability to concentrate. It can also have a negative effect on men’s sex lives, dampening desire or causing difficulty with getting or keeping an erection.

In most cases, sexual function will return to normal once the cause of the irritation has passed, whether that’s a cold virus or an allergic reaction. However, for men who suffer from chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS) the problem may be more difficult to resolve. 

Studies have shown that there is a link between CRS and erectile dysfunction (ED). Scientists believe that this is because CRS is caused by irritation to the lining of the nose triggered by toxins. This inflammation can spread through the body and cause a narrowing of the tiny blood vessels that allow blood to flow to the penis and produce an erection. 

Fortunately, CRS is a treatable condition and this can also improve sexual function. If the irritation is caused by allergies, it may be treated with steroid sprays or medication. If over-the-counter medications are not improving the situation, then surgery may be required to unblock the nasal passages.

Once the CRS has been successfully treated, men may find that they sleep better, have a more acute sense of smell, and have more energy as well as a return of normal sexual function. If the problem with ED persists, it may be worth considering seeking a separate treatment.

The first step is to book a GP appointment to rule out any other underlying conditions that may be causing ED. There’s no need to feel uncomfortable or embarrassed about this, because it’s a very common medical condition that affects most men at some stage in their lives. 

The doctor may carry out some tests such as blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and blood sugar levels to establish if there may be other health conditions such as type 2 diabetes or heart disease. These are all common causes of ED, as well as being serious health issues that require immediate treatment. 

The doctor is also likely to ask you some questions about your lifestyle, including how much alcohol you drink, if you smoke, how you eat and how much exercise you take. They may recommend some improvements such as cutting back on booze, taking daily exercise and eating more healthily. 

Psychological factors can also contribute to ED, such as stress, depression and anxiety, so it’s important to be honest if you have been struggling with your mental health. If no serious health conditions are diagnosed, the doctor may recommend an oral treatment such as Viagra, which takes up to 30 minutes to one hour to take effect.

For men who cannot tolerate or do not respond well to oral ED treatments, there is an alternative topical gel treatment that can be applied externally to the penis. This is clinically proven to be safe and takes effect within ten minutes.