Erectile Dysfunction is the inability to achieve and/or maintain an erection for satisfactory sexual performance at least 25 percent of the time.
Erectile Dysfunction (ED) is a common medical problem in men between 40 and 70 years of age, but may occur in any male capable of having an erection. As many as 100 million men worldwide experience some degree of Erectile Dysfunction.
An erection is the result of a number of physiological processes. Arousal may begin in the brain (from something seen, smelt or thought) or by stimulating the penis. The nerves along the spine send signals to release certain chemicals into the body, which make the blood vessels in the penis dilate and more blood to flow into the penis. This blood is trapped in the penis to maintain the erection. Once the chemicals subside, blood vessels return to normal and the penis loses the erection.
Any physical or psychological condition that affects the nerves, blood vessels or hormones may affect the ability to produce and maintain an erection.
• Vascular (blood vessel) disorders, e.g. atherosclerosis.
• Diseases of the nervous system, e.g. multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease.
• Trauma including spinal cord injury or other nerve damage.
• Medications including antihypertensives (for high blood pressure), antidepressants, antihistamines, tranquillisers, cimetidine (for ulcers) and appetite suppressants. Medication is thought to be the cause of up to 25% of Erectile Dysfunction cases.
• Alcohol, tobacco, narcotics and marijuana are other substances that may contribute to Erectile Dysfunction.
• Hormonal disorders, e.g. low testosterone levels.
• Surgery, e.g. prostate surgery may injure nerves or blood vessels necessary for an erection.
• Renal (kidney) Failure can cause Erectile Dysfunction due to vascular and endocrine changes and the effect of medication.
• Ageing can result in decreased testosterone levels and a loss of sensitivity in the penis. .
Erectile Dysfunction with a physiological origin usually affects all erections (intercourse, masturbation, nocturnal or early morning erections, or response to erotic stimuli).
• Stress, anxiety, guilt, depression, self-esteem issues, fear of failure (sexually).
There are a number of risk factors and characteristics, which increase your chances of developing permanent Erectile Dysfunction. These include:
• Being of caucasian decent with fair complexion
• Sperm count in excess of 300 million
• Medium to low body weight (being slightly overweight has an unexplained protective effect)
• Premature balding i.e. significant hair loss before 40 years of age
As with all conditions, your Doctor should be consulted to diagnose and treat this condition.
Treatment options vary and may include:
• Changing existing medication that may be the cause.
• Vacuum devices.
• Surgical implants.
• Drug therapy, e.g. sildenafil, alprostadil, yohimbine.
Discuss your treatment options with your Doctor.
• The diet should revolve around wholesome foods to make the body as healthy as possible.
• Limit the intake of coffee and alcohol.
• Always buy fresh green, leafy, vegetables. Cook lightly to retain nutrients.
• Raw seeds, nuts and wheat germ are good sources of vitamin E, which is needed to maintain good blood circulation.
• Avoid fatty, high calorie and low nutrient foods. Include plenty of fibre in the diet e.g., wholemeal breads and cereals, whole grains such as brown rice, vegetables and beans.
• Have at least 6 to 8 glasses of fresh, filtered water each day.
• Traditional Chinese medicine associates kidney function with sexual function. Poor kidney function may be associated with low libido. Kidney tonic herbs such as Rhemania glutinosa or Schisandra chinensis may be used.
• Ginseng (Panax) may be effective in the treatment of impotence and poor sperm count. Ginseng may also improve mood in some individuals and has been used to assist in improving the symptoms of depression.
• Zinc is an important nutrient in maintaining the health of the prostate. Zinc may be of assistance if Erectile Dysfunction is associated with prostate problems.
• Ginkgo biloba is known to improve circulation to the periphery and may help prevent vascular damage associated with peripheral vascular disease.
• Damiana has been used as a traditional remedy for impotence.
Ask your MedAux Pharmacist for advice.
1. Follow the Diet Hints.
2. Your Pharmacist can advise on any medication prescribed.
3. Avoid or learn to manage stress more effectively.
4. Exercise regularly.
5. Ask your MedAux Pharmacist about the range of products available to help you stop smoking. Tobacco may be a cause of erectile dysfunction.
6. Drink alcohol in moderation.
7. If your diet is inadequate, consider some nutritional supplements.