We frequently work with the sensitive topic of erectile dysfunction, a common condition for men 40 and older. It can be caused from various physical or mental ailments and is often a combination of the two. Luckily, there is plenty that can be done to mitigate this issue, starting with sorting out the facts versus the fiction around erectile dysfunction (ED).
First and foremost, there are a number of factors that contribute to ED such as your overall cardiovascular health. The penile artery is a terminal artery, meaning there is only one artery bringing blood to the penis, so when it is damaged as a result of high blood pressure, metabolic diseases such a diabetes, or long standing autoimmune conditions, performance can be affected. With proper health care, function can be restored for most men. Secondly, your metabolic status is a factor. Men who do not exercise, are overweight, and have poor diets loaded with carbohydrates/sugars, are at higher risk for blood sugar problems later on in life. The high circulating blood sugar has many bad effects, one of them being damage to the blood vessel in the penis. Another major risk factor is smoking, which directly damages your arteries and can affect performance. If erectile dysfunction is an issue for you, this one’s a non-negotiable, it is time to stop smoking.
Psychologically, stress plays a major role here. One of the reasons men may struggle to achieve erections with their partners, but not by themselves using visual stimuli, is because of the stress factor. Fears of “it happening again” often deter men from the bedroom more often than you would think. Furthermore, in our computer based society, it’s not uncommon that most men’s orgasms are achieved by themselves, in front of the computer, which creates a learned response to your brain that “this is where it’s safe to orgasm.” After a few failed attempts at sex with a partner, it is not uncommon for men to resort to an easy system that works and avoid the stress of “it” happening again. If this is a habit for you or your partner, consider opening an honest and welcoming discussion. There should not be a stigma with someone’s reaction to stress, and if it is a problem, just talking it out and knowing no one is at fault can help decrease stress and invite intimacy.
There are many myths around ED that actually increase men’s concern so let’s get the facts straight.
Myth #1: ED is irreversible. Fact #1: ED is often reversible.
Myth #2: ED is a disease all its own. Fact #2: ED is actually a symptom of a health issue not a disease in and of itself.
Myth #3: ED only happens to old men. Fact #3: ED can happen even in young men.
Myth #4: ED is a punishment from the heavens for sexual transgressions. Fact #4: ED can be understood when looking at one’s physical health and mind and can also be resolved by dealing with health and mental issues.
ED is a very modifiable condition and you should feel comfortable talking with your doctor about this concern. Additionally, ED can bring up concerns about masculinity and “being a man”. This notion is simply antiquated and false.
What you can do
Now you know ED is a multi-factorial condition that can be helped with medical evaluation to determine the cause and lifestyle changes and stress reduction can make significant improvements; there are also supplements known to help.
- Panax ginseng: Long touted as a panacea herb, indeed research shows that regular use of ginseng leads to increased stamina, libido, and indeed, less incidence of ED. Use with caution or under a doctor’s supervision if you have high blood pressure.
- Yohimbe: The bark of this African tree is well known to enhance energy and virility. That said, it it’s a dose dependent supplement, so it is best to consult a naturopathic doctor before employing this herb as too much of it can lead to increased anxiety, and even heart palpitations.
- L-Arginine: This is an amino acid precursor to a chemical your body makes to help relax your blood vessels, by giving your body the building blocks it needs to make the products it uses to promote lasting erections, your body is then capable to do just that. That said, arginine gets hijacked in our bodies by the herpes virus to replicate, so if you have had a herpes infection, it’s best to skip this one to prevent a flare up.
- Yoga: Studies have found the practice of yoga, not just simply stretching, has been shown to help men to suffer from low libido and ED. The combination of internal calm and modest physical exercise are the prefect recipe for enhancing the
So when you are working with the issue of erectile dysfunction know that there are many questions that can be easily answered and problems that can be treated to restore vibrant sexual health. Dr. Brian Keenan and Dr. Zoe Wells are here to help.