What is Erectile Dysfunction?
Erectile dysfunction (ED), also known as impotence, is a type of physiological problem that can affect males. You can google “erectile dysfunction” but probably don’t need a description. Still, it simply refers to the inability to get or maintain an erection long enough to consummate sex act. It will happen sometime in your life, but it’s not the end of the world. If you place too much attention on this factor, you may create unneeded stress. (x)
What else is ED? Around 30 million men deal with it either temporarily or long-term. (x) You might have underlying severe physical causes or something as benign as a little performance anxiety or a long day at the office.
Uncovering the cause of ED can help you determine what steps to take to remedy it. And as awkward as it may be to discuss this issue with a healthcare professional, it may be well worth it for the sake of your health, relationships and well-being. You have every right to view the matter as a physical problem that may stem from lack of exercise, poor diet and unhealthy lifestyle choices.
Erectile Dysfunction Symptoms
What causes an erection in the first place? A combination of mental and sensory stimuli causes the muscles of the penis to relax. Your body then signals increased blood flow to the muscles of the penis, which makes it enlarge and stiffen. From there, a membrane helps keep the increased blood inside, sustaining the erection. (x)
Ideally, you would like to get an erection on demand and have it last as long as necessary to complete the sexual experience, whatever that may be. Most commonly, this just means sustaining it long enough to have sex. (x) With impotence, you may not be able to have an erection at all, as often as you’d like, or maintain it long enough. While advancing age isn’t a cause of impotence, it affects men more often as they get older. (x)
A quick word on nocturnal penile tumescence, or “morning erection,” occurs because of activity of the parasympathetic nervous system during sleep. A full bladder and dreams can also contribute to what is usually a sexually neutral phenomenon. That said, morning erections offer clues as to underlying causes of impotence. If someone finds himself impotent in intimate situations but still gets morning erections, the issue is probably not because of problems within the vascular system. (x)
Erectile Dysfunction Causes
While the symptoms of ED are pretty straightforward, the causes may not be. Several physiological factors can contribute to the condition. Mostly like you can easily fix the health concern while others may take a medical intervention. Some leading causes are:
- Cardiovascular Issues
One of the significant concerns about ED is that it means an underlying problem with the cardiovascular system, such as atherosclerosis (plaque deposits on arteries). Not only can impaired venous function can cause it, but it can also be a predictor of whether someone will develop cardiovascular disease in the future. (x)
Erectile dysfunction affects many men with type 1 and 2 diabetes, possibly over 50 percent. (x) This is because of complications of diabetes, including nerve damage, vascular issues, oxidative stress and hormone disturbances. (x)
- Stress and Anxiety
ED is most often a function of some initial physiological factor. However, “accidental sexual failures” may lead to anxiety about engaging in future sexual activity. (x)
- Sleep Apnea
Men with sleep apnea are more likely to experience ED. Researchers believe this may be because of poor sleep quality and decreased oxygen intake is essential for erections. (x)
Several medications, some that even address the above-mentioned medical conditions, can cause erectile dysfunction. Psychotropic drugs are high on the list. Drugs include: (x)
- Blood pressure medications
- Muscle relaxants
- Cancer treatments
- Hormone-altering drugs
- General Health
Lifestyle factors like smoking, drinking alcohol in excess, and taking recreational drugs can impact the quality of erections. In addition, being overweight and sedentary also contributes to ED. (x)
Erectile Dysfunction Remedies
If you look at your lifestyle, most likely, you see a remedy already. Do you drink alcohol every day? Eat poorly? Take drugs? Smoke? These are factors to consider when resolving why you can’t complete a sexual act. Some keep points to follow:
- Lifestyle Adjustments
The healthier you are, the healthier your sex life will probably be as well. While some things are out of our control, refraining from activities like smoking and alcohol abuse can go a long way. And not only maintaining a healthy weight and engaging in exercise helps prevent chronic conditions like heart disease and diabetes, but these habits can also reduce sexual dysfunction. First and foremost, change your lifestyle, and even discuss this with your physician.
Choosing foods that are rich in particular nutrients can help. For example, the research found that men with ED were more likely to have low B vitamin folic acid levels. (x) Foods highest in folate (the form of folic acid found in food) include beef liver, spinach, asparagus and black-eyed peas (x).
Zinc, a trace mineral found in food and water, also contributes to men’s sexual health by promoting adequate testosterone levels. (x) It is one reason oysters, a food very high in zinc, are considered aphrodisiacs. Some small studies suggest an increase in zinc intake can improve erectile dysfunction in certain situations. A study performed on rats concluded that zinc therapy helped their sexual competence. (x) (x) Foods high in zinc include oysters, beef, fortified cereals, crab and lobster. (x)
What may be good news to some, a large population study uncovered a trend. Men with higher daily intakes of caffeine (85-303 mg per day) were less likely to experience erectile dysfunction. In other words, a cup of coffee or two per day can help prevent impotence. (x)
Finally, the Mediterranean diet — a diet high in vegetables, fruit, olive oil and other healthy fats and moderate amounts of high-quality meat and dairy products — can reduce the risk of sexual dysfunction, including ED. Researchers believe the antioxidants supplied through the diet help protect against cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Established by four clinical trials, the results are incredibly positive. (x)
Supplements for Erectile Dysfunction
In addition to a well-rounded diet, certain dietary supplements can also help with ED. It would help if you discussed with your physician about taking any new supplements. Some known for positive effects:
L-arginine is an amino acid that produces nitric oxide (NO) in the body. NO is a vasodilator, meaning it relaxes blood vessels and allows blood to flow more efficiently to muscles and organs, including the penis. (x) Studies show that low levels of this amino acid can contribute to ED and that supplementation can help. (x) (x)
- Panax Ginseng Root Extract
Panax ginseng, also called Korean ginseng, has been a classic go to for sexual health dating back thousands of years. Why? First, it increases nitric oxide in the body (like L-arginine). In addition, it can improve cardiovascular risk factors as well as exert an effect on the brain that increases sexual arousal. (x) Several studies prove the validity of taking ginseng with an extensive report documenting the overall outcome-based variables per participant. (x)
- Horny Goat Weed
As the name suggests, this botanical exerts a specific effect not just on goats, also on humans. Horny goat weed helps with no production results and promotes healthy testosterone levels. Studies show it can help ease problems with erections. Several studies outline this plant’s effectiveness in maintaining male potency. (x)
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When diet, lifestyle, medical intervention and supplements don’t work, other solutions for ED exist. These include oral medications like Viagra and Cialis and even ones that can inject directly into the penis. Manual erection enhancers like vacuum pumps and penile implants can also help. But studies prove that a healthy, well rounded lifestyle produces the best results. If you abuse our body, you will pay for your wrongdoings. (x)
The Bottom Line
When things don’t work the way, you need them to, it can be frustrating. For some, it’s devastating to their self-esteem, relationships and overall well-being.
Impotence is not uncommon. Sometimes it has a temporary and transient nature, while other times, it persists. While its causes can seem complicated and related to more severe health conditions, there are many remedies out there.
Addressing any underlying medical problems, seeking spiritual help if necessary, and living the healthiest lifestyle possible is significant first steps. Changing your lifestyle and dietary supplements can also help. It’s not a quick fix but it’s a healthy one.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.