In recent years, the advent of drugs like Viagra has made erectile dysfunction less of a taboo topic of discussion. Today, men can easily access a variety of drugs and medical procedures to help treat their erectile dysfunction. However, there are still many men who wish to pursue more natural means of treating this condition rather than opting for medical treatment. In this article, you’ll learn about the natural remedies for erectile dysfunction that are available today, and whether they really work or not.
What Is Erectile Dysfunction?
Erectile dysfunction (ED) occurs when a man has trouble achieving and maintaining an erection that is firm enough for sexual intercourse. The older a man gets, the more likely he is to experience ED. In some cases, the problem is temporary or happens only rarely. But for others, it is an ongoing problem that can affect an individual’s sex life, relationships and self-confidence. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, suffering from difficulties having or keeping an erection more than 25 percent of the time is considered a problem.
In the past, men were often led to believe that ED had to do with self-confidence or mental issues. However, today’s doctors are aware that ED can often be a signal of a physical problem. Some of the many possible causes of erectile dysfunction include:
- Nerve damage
- High blood pressure
- Heart conditions
- Thyroid conditions
- Neurologic disorders
- Stress or anxiety
- Spinal cord injuries
- Taking certain medications, such as sleeping pills or antidepressants
What many men don’t realize is that medications are not the only way to treat ED. In fact, one of the first suggestions that many doctors make is making lifestyle changes in order to treat erectile dysfunction before trying prescription drugs. Some lifestyle changes which may relieve or cure erectile dysfunction are:
- Quitting smoking
- Cut down on alcohol and illegal drug use
- Exercise regularly
- Eat a healthy diet
- Get plenty of rest
- Take time to relax and get rid of stress
When these changes do not work, some alternative remedies may be used in the treatment of ED. The following are some of the more popular natural remedies for erectile dysfunction:
- Ginkgo: This supplement helps increase blood flow to the penis and can help ease the sexual side effects that are caused by taking antidepressants. Side effects include an increased risk of bleeding, which is especially dangerous if you plan to undergo surgery or are taking any blood-thinning medications.
- Zinc: Men with a zinc deficiency may find that zinc supplements improve their erectile function. Side effects of taking too much zinc can include immune system damage and other health conditions, so never take it in high doses.
- Ginseng: This traditional Chinese medicine is used to treat many conditions, and there are a few studies showing that it can potentially help with ED. It can cause lowered blood sugar levels so it may not be a good choice for diabetics. Also, check with a doctor before using this supplement if you are taking antidepressants.
- DHEA: Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is involved with the body’s sex hormones and can help men with low testosterone. Side effects include acne and lower levels of “good” cholesterol. Talk to a doctor before using this remedy.
- Epimedium: This is another traditional Chinese medicine that may help with erectile function. Side effects can include blood thinning and lowered blood pressure. There is little information about safety and side effects of epimedium so use caution when utilizing this remedy.
- Yohimbe: This herbal remedy comes from the back of a yohimbe tree. It is particularly useful for men with ED caused by psychological issues. However, high blood pressure, irregular or rapid heartbeat and anxiety may all occur as side effects.
- Folic acid and vitamin E: Some men take this along with Viagra to improve their erectile function. There are generally no side effects to be worried about unless these vitamins are taken in high doses.
If you do choose to use an herbal remedy or supplement to treat ED, tell your doctor to be sure that you are not putting yourself at risk for any other health conditions.
Drugs Versus Natural Remedies
Choosing the right treatment for erectile dysfunction often depends on what works best for the individual. For many, it is the side effects of prescription drugs for ED that causes them to choose natural remedies. Others prefer medications because they have found natural treatments unsuccessful or because they like the ease of simply taking a pill. However, it is important to address the underlying health issues that may be associated with ED before using either type of treatment. For example, those who have ED due to being overweight should try to lose weight either before or while using medications or natural remedies. Talk to you doctor about which treatments and remedies will be most effective for you.
Although ED is more common among older men, it is not a natural part of aging. In some cases, erectile dysfunction can signal other health issues going on in the body. Therefore, even if you prefer to use natural remedies for your erectile dysfunction, you should still tell your doctor about the condition so that you can be examined for other potential health risks. It is especially important to see a doctor if you have ED combined with any of the following health conditions:
- Low back pain
- Abdominal pain
- Changes in urination
- ED which occurs after an injury or prostate surgery