At the risk of receiving spam, and embarrassing or offending some people, I’m going to talk about Erectile Dysfunction (ED) because it’s the most common sexual problem among men, affecting 25% of those over 50 years old. ED is the inability to achieve or maintain an erection. It’s important because it’s a major risk factor for heart disease. It can also cause depression, a lack of confidence and relationship problems.
Now the good news is that it is usually reversible, but completely curing it depends on the cause.
Most often the cause of ED is diabetes or atherosclerosis. But that doesn’t mean you have one of them. ED can also be caused by hypothyroidism, nerve damage, psychological issues, use of drugs (antidepressants, beta-blockers, antihistamines, anticancer drugs, antihypertensives, anticholinergics, antipsychotics), alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, hormonal imbalances, smoking, stress, anxiety, depression, and lack of sleep.
It becomes more common as you age but age does not cause ED. Men are capable of erections well into their 80’s.
Now, what about those bicycle seats? It’s thought that the seats can compress arteries and nerves causing temporary “numb nuts”. But can it lead to ED? Older studies seem to have suggested that bike seats did increase your risk of ED however more recent (and better studies) say that it’s just not true. For more information and adjustments you can make to your bike see https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/can-cycling-cause-erectile-dysfunction.
Before we look at natural treatments, let’s have a look at those little blue pills. Viagra, Cialis, and Levitra all work by increasing nitric oxide which increases blood flow. Common side effects include headache, painful or prolonged erection, upset stomach, heartburn, itching or burning during urination and back pain. Occasional side effects include hearing loss, fainting, chest pain, and heart attacks.
So, what can we do naturally to increase blood flow and get that tent pole up?
Some essential oils increase circulation, balance hormones, calm and boost your mood and are aphrodisiac. Clary sage stimulates blood flow, balances hormones, calms nerves and is an aphrodisiac. Lavender, when combined with a pumpkin pie scent (what?), increased penile blood flow by 40% in one study. Rose increases testosterone levels and improved function in those with depression and those on medication. Ylang Ylang was helpful in those with depression and stress and is an aphrodisiac. Patchouli is an aphrodisiac, regulates hormone production and helps with stress.
Cinnamon is an aphrodisiac and ginger may also help. Aha - the pumpkin pie connection!
You may have to try more than one essential oil to find what floats your boat.
You can use the essential oil in a diffuser or dilute it in oil for the bath or for an abdomen and lower back massage.
Zinc increases the level of testosterone, and you can find it in pumpkin seeds, oysters, soybeans, liver, nuts (especially cashews), and legumes. Be sure to get enough fiber and vit E, and avoid food high in saturated and trans-fat, and minimize refined flour and sugar.
Studies on gingko biloba show that its helpful when ED is caused by antidepressants or diabetes. Potency wood (muira puama) also showed improvement. Carnitine, grape seed extract, and arginine (in maca) may also help. Human studies show inconsistent results for ginseng though.
Exercise of all kinds improves blood flow and circulation. Even walking has shown successful results. Some studies show that squats increase testosterone and blood flow and strengthen pelvic muscles.
Men can do kegels too! Many studies show they strengthen the pelvic muscles, particularly the bulbocavernosus muscle which squeezes blood into the penis and squeezes urine out.