Friday, November 25, 2016
Erectile dysfunction, also known as impotence, is extremely common, yet is a condition that many men find embarrassing to discuss. Approximately 50% of all men aged between 40 and 70 will suffer to some extent, but many would rather find alternative treatments than face a doctor to talk about their condition.
Erections result from nerve impulses between the brain and the penis once a man experiences sexual arousal. Therefore, anything that causes interference with the circulation of the blood, the nervous system or the libido (sex drive) can lead to erectile dysfunction.
Causes of erectile dysfunction can be physical, psychological or even both.
The physical issues that can be linked to the condition include:
Psychological issues such as depression and anxiety can equally cause erectile dysfunction, as can injury to other parts of the body and surgery. Even external factors, such as alcohol, drugs, exhaustion or side effects from other medications can play a part.
Understandably, men can become embarrassed when faced with the condition, so it can be tempting to look for cures online rather than talking to a doctor. However, despite their claims, these ‘natural cures’ are not always what they seem.
Many natural treatments may appear to advertise themselves as a cure-all pill or supplement that will have you back to full health in no time. However, these claims are often unsubstantiated. At best, you could be taking an expensive placebo with no effect at all and at worst, you could be taking something which causes more problems.
One natural remedy that many believe can help with erectile dysfunction is pomegranate juice. This is believed to help keep nitric oxide, the molecule that helps our bodies to transmit signals between cells in the bloodstream for longer. However, this is an example of a supposed natural remedy that is not supported by scientific evidence. It is obviously healthier to drink fruit juice than alcohol or sugary drinks, but it is not a proven natural remedy.
A slightly more dangerous rumoured natural cure is Korean red ginseng. Although a study found that, when compared to a placebo, ginseng appeared to improve erections in a group of men, the group of 45 was considered too small to prove that it was a successful clinical treatment. In fact, this ‘cure’ has been linked to other health concerns, such as heart disease and problems with the immune system.
Chinese medicines found online, such as herbal tonics, are also rumoured to cure erectile dysfunction. However, these are probably the most risky course of action to take when looking into treatments. The problem with online treatments is that you can never be 100% certain which ingredients have been included. This recent news story reported that 19 Chinese manufacturers used Viagra in their herbal tonics to make them work faster and improve sales. A further 51 manufacturers are also under investigation. This just goes to show that even if a remedy is advertised as natural, you have to be carefully that it doesn’t include ingredients that will have adverse side effects. Without realising, those who took this ‘cure’ could have overdosed on the drug and suffered effects such as dizziness, blurred vision and, in severe cases, death.
Many lifestyle factors can have an effect on erectile dysfunction, so it is possible to improve the condition by making some lifestyle changes. These include giving up smoking and illegal drugs, reducing your alcohol intake and losing weight.
A recent study has also shown that exercise has a strong link to improving erectile dysfunction, with chances of developing the condition dropping by 43% for every half an hour spent participating in moderate exercise.
Reducing stress is another good way to improve erectile dysfunction, and yoga has been found to improve both erectile dysfunction as well as stress.
There are many things that you can do to try to improve instances of erectile dysfunction. However, if you find it is an ongoing problem, occurring for over a week, the best course of action would be to consult a doctor. Dr Helen Webberley, our dedicated GP, can give you the best and safest treatments, monitor your progress and rule out or treat any other health problems that may be causing the condition. Get in touch, regardless of your query.