Erectile Dysfunction – What You Need To Know
Erectile dysfunction affects about 3 million men in the U.S. If you are experiencing this condition, you aren’t alone. We will look at the causes for e.d. as well as treatment options. If you are suffering from this condition, there are things that can help.
Erectile dysfunction means that you can’t get or maintain an erection for sexual intercourse. If it happens occasionally, it’s nothing to worry about. If it happens often, it is a problem that needs to be treated.
Symptoms of e.d. include trouble getting or keeping an erection and reduced sexual desire. It’s a good idea to talk to your doctor if you are experiencing any type of sexual dysfunction, if you have diabetes or a heart condition, and if you are having other symptoms. It can be a sign of an underlying condition. While it may be embarrassing to bring it up with your doctor, you should know that they have probably heard similar stories in the past.
Heart and Blood Vessel Issues
Many heart and blood vessel problems can affect blood flow and cause e.d. These include:
- Heart Disease
- Clogged blood vessels or arteries
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
There are a host of other diseases that can cause e.d. including:
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Metabolic Syndrome-increased blood pressure, high insulin, high cholesterol, and excess weight around the waist
- Peyronie’s Disease-Scar tissue inside the penis
- Sleep Disorders
Drugs That Can Cause E.D.
Certain drugs can cause e.d. These include:
- Drug Abuse
- Prescription and Over the Counter Medications
- Treatments for prostate problems
Surgeries around the pelvic area or spinal cord can also cause e.d.
This is one reason why your first line of treatment for e.d. should be your doctor. If one of these underlying health conditions is causing the problem, it is important to treat them.
There are also many psychological causes of e.d. These include:
- Anxiety, depression, or other mental health problems
- Relationship issues including lack of attraction to your partner, anger, poor communication, and other issues
As you age, you may find getting and keeping an erection more difficult. This may be a sign of an underlying condition, but it is natural for it to occur to some extent when you age. However, if you can’t get and keep an erection to have sexual intercourse most of the time, this isn’t a normal part of the aging process.
Prescription, over the counter, and illicit drugs can cause e.d. Some drugs known to cause e.d. are antidepressants, blood pressure medications, pain medications, antihistamines, and drugs for prostate conditions. If you began having trouble shortly after taking a medication, it may be to blame. However, you should never discontinue any prescribed medication without talking with your doctor.
Illegal drugs that can cause e.d. include amphetamines (methamphetamine, adderall, phentermine), barbiturates, cocaine, marijuana, and heroin. If you were a long term drug user in the past, your past drug use may be the cause of your e.d.
72% of alcoholic men said they had e.d. The more alcohol they consume, the more it affects their ability to keep an erection. You may also find if you drink occasionally you experience e.d. Alcohol abuse actually shrinks your testicles and kills your sperm count. So if you are in college and plan on having kids one day, take it easy on the alcohol. It also lowers your testosterone levels, and it kills the cells that are responsible for you getting an erection.
What Happens When It Is Psychological
Many times erectile dysfunction can be traced to a physical issue. However many times the cause is psychological. If you are having problems getting an erection, you should have a complete physical exam to see if that is the cause.
Be careful though. Many doctors are so conditioned to prescribe a pill, they may simply prescribe you Viagra without ever mentioning that they didn’t find a physical cause. It can be an uncomfortable conversation on both ends, so many doctors avoid it altogether.The problem is a pill may fix the erection issue, but if there is an underlying psychological cause that needs to be addressed as well.
The line between psychological and medical becomes blurred where depression is concerned. Depression is a known cause of e.d., but so are many of the medications used to treat it. Generally if depression is the cause of your e.d. you will have a low sex drive as well. You may have little to no interest in sex. If you are depressed, you should be seeing a therapist or psychologist to help you work through the issues causing it in place of, or in addition to, medication.
Anxiety is a very complex subject because there are so many different types and causes. Your level of anxiety should determine the course of treatment. Many life changes including losing a job, financial struggles, retiring, or problems in your relationship can cause anxiety. You may be able to work through it on your own. Herbal treatments like Valerian can work wonders for stress and anxiety. If you have severe anxiety, you may find you need medication for it and therapy to help you deal with it.
Exercise and meditation can help relieve anxiety and depression, in addition to helping with your e.d. itself. Cardiovascular exercises like walking and swimming are good because they actually raise your endorphin (happy chemical) levels. Meditative exercises like Yoga can also be very beneficial for fighting these problems.
Relationship problems can be the cause of your e.d., but e.d. can also cause problems in your relationship. If you are constantly angry, resentful or hurt by your spouse, there is a good chance this is the root of your e.d.
On the other hand, you may have started experiencing relationship problems because of your e.d. Women want to feel wanted. No matter how long you’ve been together, if you can’t get and keep an erection to make love to your lady, she may feel it is her fault. She may worry that you aren’t attracted to her anymore. She may think you don’t care about her sexual satisfaction. She may even suspect you of cheating.
If your e.d. is caused by a medical issue, bring your partner along so the doctor can explain the cause of the problem to her. If It is psychological, be honest with her about just what the problem is. If it is a relationship issue, the two of you need to work together to fix it. If it is something else, letting her know what it is will allow her to be supportive instead of thinking she is the problem.
Erectile Dysfunction Drug Abuse
If you take any medication that isn’t prescribed to you, you are abusing the drug. Prescription drugs are prescription for a reason. Usually because it isn’t safe for anyone to take them just because they feel like it. There is a trend among young men to take drugs for erectile dysfunction without a prescription. Some do it because they have e.d. and don’t want to have an uncomfortable conversation with their doctor. Others do it because they want to see what effect it will have on their sex life. While it may seem harmless, it isn’t. There are four big reasons why you shouldn’t take e.d. medication that isn’t prescribed to you.
E.D. medications have side effects and risks like any other medicine. You could be allergic to it, or it could counteract with one of the medicines you are already taking. These reactions are dangerous, even life threatening.
You Don’t Know What You Are Taking
If you get the medication from someone else, you don’t know what you are getting. Sure you can search the internet and make sure it is the right pill. However, that can’t answer things like is it out of date. There are also people that make very convincing counterfeit pills that may have dangerous ingredients. Many people die from taking counterfeit pills.
You may become psychologically dependent on the pills, and think that you have to have them to achieve an erection.This can be a big problem, especially when you run out.
Possessing e.d. pills might not seem like a big deal, but it is illegal. You could be arrested and charged for possession.
Treatments for Erectile Dysfunction
If you have E.D. because of an underlying medical condition, your first line of treatment should be to correct the root cause if possible.
Exercising, eating healthy, and managing chronic medical conditions may correct your e.d. However, there are many medical and natural options for treating the e.d. itself.
There are many natural treatments for e.d. that you may want to try before resorting to prescription drugs. However, you should always discuss any herbs or supplements with your doctor first to make sure they won’t interact with anything you are currently taking.
Supplements With Little or No Side Effects and Positive Study Results:
- Panax Ginseng – This traditional Chinese remedy seems to be effective for e.d.
- DHEA – Studies suggest it improves erectile function and men and increases libido in women
- L-arginine – Thought to improve blood flow. Shouldn’t be taken with Viagra
- L-carnitine – Shown to be more effective than Viagra alone when they are combined
Yohimbine can improve e.d., especially when the e.d. is a side effect of certain antidepressants. However some people experience increased blood pressure or heartbeat and anxiety. It is suggested that you use it with a doctor’s supervision.
Supplements With Questionable Effectiveness
- Ginkgo – Ginkgo does increase blood flow to the penis, but so far it hasn’t been proven effective for e.d.
- Horny Goat Weed – The herb hasn’t been studied in people, although there is anecdotal evidence that it works. It can affect heart function, so you shouldn’t take it if you have heart problems.
Risk of “Natural” Treatments Found Online
Many people seek natural treatments for their e.d. as a way to reduce the risk of side effects associated with prescription drugs. The problem is some of these treatments that claim to be natural and safe really aren’t. Here is what you should know before buying an e.d. supplement online.
One study found that over 30% of e.d. supplements actually contain prescription medication or similar substances. About 40% of these contained the active ingredient in Viagra or Levitra. The rest contained substances very similar to these prescription drugs. These can have side effects on their own, or they may dangerously interact with things you are already taking.
Many of these products are manufactured outside of the U.S., so there isn’t any way to know for sure what is in it without doing laboratory testing. You can find a list of potentially dangerous supplements here. It is also a good idea to do some research before ordering any type of sexual supplement online. The FDA, BBB, and online reviews are great places to check to see if a product lives up to its hype.
Prescription Drug Treatments
If you are considering a prescription e.d. medication, you may find it helpful to understand the different medications before talking to your doctor. E.d. drugs aren’t safe for you If you take nitrates for chest pain or have high or low blood pressure. They can also be dangerous if you are on dialysis or have severe liver disease.
Viagra is the most well known drug for erectile dysfunction. You need to take it 30 to 60 minutes before sex, but you can take it up to four hours before sex. It doesn’t take effect until you become sexually aroused. It has an 80% rate of effectiveness.
- Take it only when you need it
- Good for up to four hours
- Has to be taken at least 30 minutes before sex
- Possible side effects
Rarely seen side effects are an erection lasting more than four hours, hearing loss or ringing in the ears, and vision loss. More common side effects include headache, upset stomach, flushing, and blurry vision. Back or muscle pain, stuffy or runny nose, rash and dizziness.
Vardenafil (Levitra, Staxyn)
Drugs like Levitra actually relax the blood vessels which allows for increased blood flow to the penis. It must be taken about one hour before sexual activity, and it can only be taken once in a 24 hour period. Just like Viagra, you won’t get an erection unless you are sexually aroused. While it is taken on an as needed basis, it can be taken once a day.
- Taken As Needed
- Can Be Taken Daily
- Effective up to seven hours
- Takes 1 hour to be effective
- Possible side effects
Rare side effects that require immediate medical attention include loss of vision and hearing, seizures, memory loss, an erection lasting more than four hours, and a fast or irregular heartbeat. More common and less serious side effects include headache, flushing, runny or stuffy nose, sensitivity to light, blurred vision, and trouble distinguishing colors.
Cialis can be taken in smaller daily doses or in larger doses as needed. It is also used to treat prostate problems. It relaxes the muscles in the prostate and bladder to increase blood flow to the penis. If you take it as needed, you need to take it at least 30 minutes before you have sex. Cialis has the advantage of remaining effective for 36 hours if you take it as needed. If you take it daily, you can have sex anytime. It also has the advantage of helping to treat prostate problems, which can be the cause of e.d.
- Can be taken daily or as needed
- Can also treat BPH
- Lasts for 36 hours
- If taken as needed, needs to be taken 30 minutes before sex
- Possible side effects
Rare and serious side effects that require medical treatment include loss of hearing or vision, allergic reactions, and an erection lasting more than 4 hours. More common and less serious side effects include headache, back or muscle aches, stomach upset, and dizziness.
Lifestyle changes can be implemented on their own, or in conjunction with other treatments for e.d. For some these changes may be all they need to treat their e.d. For those who do need prescription treatments, they are likely to be more effective along with lifestyle changes. These changes will also improve your overall health, so they are well worth doing.
Exercise is the number one change you can make to prevent or help reverse e.d. Cardiovascular exercise improves blood flow and helps stabilize blood pressure. In essence it has the same impact on blood flow as Viagra and similar drugs. Weight lifting exercises help to raise testosterone. It is the hormone considered responsible for sex drive and having a strong erection.
A Healthy Diet
The food you put into your body has a direct effect on how well it performs. It is essentially the same concept as putting gas in your car. Premium gas will help your car have peak performance. Put it watered down gas, however, and it will run poorly. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fish are good for you, and they may help reduce instances of e.d.
Obesity is a big risk factor for e.d. Men with a 40 inch waist have a 50% higher risk of e.d. than those with a 32 inch waist. Obesity is also a risk factor for health problems known to cause e.d. like diabetes and high blood pressure.
Get Your ZZZZ’s
Getting your sleep can help your sex life. Your body releases testosterone when you are sleeping, If you aren’t on a regular sleep schedule, you may have low testosterone. Being tired can also keep you from being able to get an erection, so get your rest guys.
I’m sure you’ve heard about many of the nasty things tobacco can do, but you may not know it can cause e.d. It can cause the veins in the penis to get smaller, reducing the blood flow. If you have vascular disease, quitting smoking can help to reverse the condition.
In addition to what we talked about earlier, alcohol reduces nitric oxide in the penis. Without nitric oxide, you don’t have an erection. If you’ve ever had too much to drink, and then tried to get it up, you know what I am talking about.
While it may not be effective for all forms of e.d., accupuncture was found to be effective in treating e.d. from antidepressants. It is thought that between 50% to 90% of men who take SSRI’s or SNRI’s have erectile dysfunction.
Foods For Erectile Dysfunction
We covered foods briefly earlier, but now we are going to take an in depth look at certain foods that may help prevent or treat e.d.
Eat Your Greens and Your Beets
Leafy greens like spinach, celery, and lettuces contain nitrates, which help improve blood flow to the penis. Today’s medications for e.d are actually based around this concept, so it is a good place to start. Beets are also very high in nitrates. In addition to helping with erectile dysfunction, these foods will also make your workout more effective and boost your testosterone levels. That’s why you see a whole host of pre-workout supplements with nitric oxide. You can also add these vegetables to a smoothie if you don’t like the taste.
Watermelon contains lots of lycopene, which is good for your heart and prostate. In addition to helping with e.d., it can also boost your sex drive. Other foods high in lycopene include guava, tomatoes, papaya, and sweet red peppers, So come on guys, do the watermelon crawl.
There is a reason oysters are considered an aphrodisiac. They raise your testosterone levels, and they contain lots of zinc. Zinc is essential for testosterone levels. It also contains B vitamins which may also help you get and keep an erection. Legend says that Casanova had 50 oysters for breakfast each morning, so it is worth trying.
Studies show that men who drink two to three cups of coffee per day were less likely to have e.d. Caffeine helps improve blood flow. Blood flow is of course what makes Mr. Happy happy.
Another food that is considered a legendary aphrodisiac is chocolate. The flavanols in chocolate help to increase blood flow and lower blood pressure. It also helps increase nitric oxide levels.
Nuts for Your Nuts
Walnuts are high in arginine. We looked at arginine earlier as a supplement, but you are better off to get it from your diet if you can. Arginine actually helps your body make nitric oxide. Pistachios also have lots of arginine. Nuts also have a host of other benefits, so eat your nuts for your nuts.
Grape juice can also increase your nitric oxide levels. The polyphenols in grape juice are also great for your heart and general health, so drink up.
Garlic can actually help you keep your arteries clear. Clear arteries mean good blood flow, and good blood flow means good sex.
Fish is high in Omega 3’s. This may raise your nitric oxide levels. Omega 3’s are also great for your brain and your heart. So eat up.
Spice it Up
Hot peppers contain capsaicin. This relaxes the arteries, which increases blood flow. It can also lower blood pressure and prevent blood clots. Some studies suggest it may also fight arthritis.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Olive oil can help your body to make more testosterone. It has plenty of other health benefits, so it is a great addition to your diet.
An Erectile Dysfunction Fighting Menu
Here is an erectile dysfunction menu perfect for a romantic dinner at home.
Bruschetta is made from fresh tomatoes, spices like cilantro, and olive oil. It is served on toast.
Have a salad with a mix of arugula, kale, and spinach. You can also use your favorite lettuce and add one of these in with it. Try a sweeter salad with some guava or papaya if you are feeling brave. Add some walnuts to the salad.
Fish or Oysters
Oysters are probably the most effective, but any type of clam and mussel are good choices too. If you don’t like any of these, go for salmon or tuna steaks. Try adding some red peppers sauteed in olive oil or butter with a little jalapeno mixed in for heat. Add some lemon juice when you are almost done sauteing the peppers. This makes an excellent topping or pasta sauce.
Of course dark chocolate will be the dessert of choice, You can fancy it up a bit by making some dark chocolate mousse, or you could make a fudge pie. Pair it with a sweet red wine for an extra special treat.
Cook this up for your lady and not only will you look like a romantic and culinary genius, these foods should have everything performing at peak levels. While these foods are more effective when eaten on a regular basis, a sexy meal is always a good idea.
Myths About E.D.
There are many myths surrounding e.d. Sex and all the issues associated with it have always been fraught with myth. Perhaps it is because the act of sex itself is mysterious. Perhaps it is because it has always been a somewhat taboo subject. Here are the most common myths about erectile dysfunction.
E.D. Is Normal As Men Age
It does become more common as men age, but it isn’t a normal part of the aging process. It is a medical issue that has an underlying cause besides age.
It Doesn’t Affect Women
Men may get all the press, but ed can make a woman feel unattractive or inadequate. It also affects her ability to enjoy sex with her partner. Women are sexual creatures to, and many women desire sex just as much as men.
It Is Caused By Tightie Whities
Wearing tight underwear can affect a man’s fertility because it raises the temperature of the testicles. This affects their ability to produce sperm. However, as many men with vasectomies can attest, fertility doesn’t affect a man’s ability to function sexually.
E.D. Is Caused By Relationship Problems
While e.d. can be caused by relationship problems, the majority of cases are physical instead of psychological.
Medications Like Viagra Are The Only Treatment
While prescription e.d. medications do have their place in a treatment plan, they shouldn’t be the first or only line of treatment. The focus should be on identifying and treating the underlying problem.
Men With E.D. Don’t Want Sex
Most men with e.d. have the desire for sex. Desire for sex is regulated by hormones, and these hormones aren’t impacted by e.d. Function and sex drive aren’t mutually exclusive. However, some men may avoid attempting to have sex out of fear of not being able to perform.
Any Erection Trouble Is a Sign Of E.D.
Most men have an off day occasionally. They may not be able to get or maintain an erection occasionally. It may be hard enough for sex, but not as hard as they are used to. Hormone fluctuations, tiredness, stress, alcohol, or an inability to let go of the day’s problems can all lead to occasional erection problems.
E.D. Is Just a Sex Problem
The fact is e.d. can be a sign of a serious medical condition. It should be looked at as a potential health problem, instead of just a sexual inconvenience.
I Can Treat It On My Own Without Seeing A Doctor
While I am all for natural treatment options, you need to be careful when it comes to e.d. First you should see your doctor to determine if it is being caused by a health condition that needs to be treated. Second, you should talk to your doctor about any supplements you are considering to make sure that it doesn’t interfere with anything you are currently taking. Third, you should be very careful when choosing an all natural supplement, as we discussed.earlier.
Now you know everything you need to know about e.d. Remember there are natural and prescription treatment options as well as lifestyle changes to keep you functioning like you should.