Let’s face it, nobody likes to talk about erectile dysfunction. Even so, studies show ED affects 40% of men over age 40. Overall, the prevalence of ED increases with age. ED, or male impotence, occurs when a man is unable to achieve or sustain an erection sufficient for sexual intercourse. As you can imagine, this can lead to relationship problems, low self-esteem, stress, and even depression. Because sexual health is intimately linked to your well-being, it’s important to discuss your concerns with your doctor.
What Causes Erectile Dysfunction?
Sexual arousal is a complex process involving the brain, neurological system, hormones, muscles, and blood vessels. First of all, an erection begins in your brain. When aroused, it sends a chemical message through your nervous system to the blood vessels in your penis. Next, your arteries relax and allow more blood to flow in. After that, the veins close. This ensures that blood stays in the penis, and your erection lasts until after ejaculation.
Because erections begin in the brain, psychological issues often cause ED. Stress and depression can exacerbate the problem, and on top of that, the anxiety that comes with ED makes it even worse. It’s a cruel cycle. In addition to emotional issues, physical issues can cause erectile dysfunction, too.
ED Risk Factors
As you can see, there are many factors at play when it comes to ED. That said, here are the most common risk factors for erectile dysfunction in men:
Erectile Dysfunction Treatments: Commercial and Natural Solutions
Commercial Treatments for ED
Prescription medication for ED works by stimulating blood flow to the penis. Most noteworthy erectile dysfunction medications include alprostadil, avanafil, sildenafil (Viagra), and tadalafil. One, alprostadil, is an injection directly into the penis before sex. The others are oral medications, which you should take anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour before intercourse.
Before you resort to these commercial medications, know that these treatments are not without side effects. In addition to common headaches, other side effects can include nausea, upset stomach, painful erections, and vision and hearing problems.
Natural Treatments for ED
- Hormone replacement therapy – DHEA is a natural hormone made by the adrenal glands, which your body can convert into testosterone. Natural DHEA production peaks in your mid-20s and gradually declines with age. A double-blind study suggests that DHEA treatment is beneficial in treating ED.
- L-Arginine – L-Arginine is a naturally occurring amino acid in the body. It makes nitric oxide, which relaxes the blood vessels and facilitates a successful erection. Actually, one study showed improved sexual function in 31% of test subjects.
- Acupuncture – Acupuncture used for treating ED shows mixed levels of success. A pilot study of 16 patients showed promise, but there is no definitive conclusion. However, there are no side effects to acupuncture, so it may be worth a shot.
Lifestyle Changes for Treating ED
Lifestyle changes are an important component in erectile dysfunction treatment. Therefore, a few things you can do for your ED are:
- Maintain a healthy and balanced diet
- Exercise every day for optimal health
- Quit smoking
- Maintain a consistent sleep schedule
- Cut back on alcoholic beverages
Erectile dysfunction can affect any man. By implementing important lifestyle changes and an individualized treatment plan, you can improve your relationship and sexual health.