Erectile Dysfunction (ED) is a condition that affects around 30 million men worldwide. And although it is not rare for men to experience some problems with erections from time to time, when the condition is progressive or begins happening routinely during sex, professional diagnosis and treatment are required. Not to be mistaken for poor libido, individuals with ED find it hard to get or maintain an erection that is firm enough for sex. And without treatment, ED can make sexual intercourse a difficult task! Other side effects associated with ED include low self-esteem, depression, and distress for both parties in the relationship. This blog aims to educate our readers about the causes, symptoms, and treatments of ED. Despite this being an interesting and informative read, if you think that you may have ED it is highly recommended that you go and see your healthcare provider for an accurate diagnosis.
There are many causes of ED, including stress, lifestyle factors, and disease. However, the most common causes of ED are a lack of blood flow or nerve damage in the penis. Thankfully, there are a number of ways in which we can treat and prevent the risks of ED, and more often than not it’s a very easy fix. (PHEW, you can relax!) ED treatment aims to enhance or eradicate the symptoms of ED, help circulatory health, and improve a man’s quality of life. Therefore, if you have experienced any of the symptoms of ED, think that you may be at risk, or simply would like to learn more, keep reading and we will discuss this further!
Who gets ED?
Sexual dysfunction and ED are present in 1 in 5 men and become more common as they age. The percentage of complete ED has been found to increase from 5% to 15% as age increases from 40 to 70 years. However, these statistics do not mean that growing older is the end of your sex life! ED can be treated at any age, and there are many things you can do to prevent its onset. In terms of trends, ED may be more common in Hispanic men and in those with a history of diabetes, obesity, smoking, and hypertension. Furthermore, research shows that African-American men sought medical care for ED twice the rate of other racial groups. ED can affect pretty much any male in some way shape or form, so the best way to tackle it is to educate yourself and take the necessary steps to avoid its onset.
What causes ED?
An erection occurs when blood fills two chambers in the penis knows as the corpora cavernosa. This increased blood flow causes the penis to expand and stiffen (a bit like a water balloon as it’s filled with water). This process is triggered by impulses from the brain and genital nerves. Therefore, anything that blocks or restricts these impulses will affect blood flow and may result in ED. As well as the physical and emotional causes, there are a number of risk factors that are also thought to be associated with the prevalence of ED such as:
Being over the age of 50
Having high blood sugar (Diabetes)
Having high blood pressure
Having cardiovascular disease
Having high cholesterol
Using drugs (recreational or pharmaceutical) or excessive alcohol consumption
Lacking exercise/Leading sedentary lifestyle
Generally speaking, Erectile Dysfunction causes can be categorized into two main groups, physical and emotional. And although psychological assistance may be advised to tackle the emotional side of things, there is often a psychological response to some of the physical benefits seen from treatment.
Here is a list of some of the Erectile Dysfunction causes:
Physical Causes of ED:
There is not enough blood flows into the penis. Many health issues can reduce blood flow
into the penis, such as hardened arteries, heart disease, high blood sugar (Diabetes) and
The penis cannot trap blood during an erection. If blood does not stay in the penis, a man
cannot keep an erection. This issue can happen at any age.
Nerve signals from the brain or spinal cord do not reach the penis. Certain diseases, injury or
surgery in the pelvic area can harm nerves to the penis.
Diabetes can cause small vessel disease or nerve damage to the penis
Cancer treatments near the pelvis can affect the penis; functionality. Surgery and or radiation
for cancers in the lower abdomen or pelvis can cause ED. Treating prostate, colon-rectal or
bladder cancer often leaves men with ED. Cancer survivors should see a Urologist for sexual
Drugs used to treat other health problems can negatively impact erections. Patients should talk about drug side effects with their primary care doctors.
Stress at home or work
Stress from social, cultural or religious conflicts
Worry about sex performance
Diagnosis and Treatment for Erectile Dysfunction:
To diagnose ED, your doctor will ask questions about your symptoms and medical history and will carry out a physical exam. The physical exam often aims to uncover signs of poor circulation, nerve trouble, as well as abnormalities in the genital area that may cause/affect ED. Following this, lab tests can provide more categorical evidence measuring hormone levels, blood sugar levels, blood cell count and liver function tests. These lab tests can identify any underlying conditions that may be affecting or contributing to ED.
The first look when it comes to treatment is identifying corrections in a person’s lifestyle, for example, giving up smoking, drinking alcohol or taking drugs. Losing weight and increasing exercise, or increasing the intensity/duration of exercise, can also help due to improved overall health and increased blood flow. Oral medications for ED such as Viagra, Levitra, Staxyn, and Stendra all work by improving blood flow to the penis during arousal. Other vascularity supplements such as the OptiNOs: NO Booster can also help ED through similar mechanisms, enlarging the blood vessels and facilitating blood flow to the area. While taking pills and dietary supplements are often more convenient, some men opt for injections, which provide a stronger dose with more potent results. This treatment works by widening the blood vessels, leading to a higher capacity for blood flow. Other treatments include vacuum pumps, surgery, and inflatable implants. Before beginning any treatment, it is important to consult a healthcare practitioner and receive a positive diagnosis. However, positive changes to lifestyle and diet will always be recommended!
Nutrition for ED:
There are a number of foods that are colloquially thought to enhance ED. And although there is scientific rationale that suggests benefits from these, more research is needed in order to solidify these claims! Nevertheless, there is no harm in trying some of these out and incorporating them into your daily routine.
Watermelon is said to have a similar effect to ED meds on your blood vessels, increasing blood flow throughout the body (and you know where). Furthermore, it is loaded with the antioxidant lycopene which helps with heart, prostate and skin health.
Oysters are full of zinc and have also been found to boost testosterone levels. Both of which are key factors in sexual health. Coffee may act as a little ‘pick me up’ in more than one way. One study claimed that men who drank 2-3 cups worth of caffeine a day were less likely to have ED. Caffeine, also found in teas and sports drinks, helps to boost blood flow throughout the body. This may help with ED.
Dark chocolate consumption (an ounce a few times a week) has been shown to be good for heart health. And as heart health is a contributing factor for ED, dark chocolate may be a winner in the bedroom too. If it’s good for the heart, it’s good for other parts!
Oily fish is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, which may boost nitric oxide in your body. Regular consumption can reduce blood pressure (a risk factor of ED) and the risk of heart attacks.
OptiNOs NO Booster for ED:
Nitric Oxide (NO) is a naturally occurring gas that is found in the body, and one of its primary functions is to promote vasodilation and blood flow. This effect leads to greater blood flow to the working muscles, which may have a number of benefits to both sports performance and ED. Nitric oxide is secreted by the endothelial cells which line the inner walls of the blood vessels, and when NO is present it triggers the smooth muscle cells to relax. This blood flow mechanism plays an important role in many bodily functions including controlling blood pressure and maintaining erections. Having said this, when you look at the ingredients of our NO Booster you will not find NO specifically. No Nitric Oxide supplements actually contain NO per se, instead, they contain substrates that aid the production of NO, for example, L-arginine and L-citrulline. Given the fact that blood is responsible for carrying blood and other substrates to the working muscle, this increased delivery provided by NO supplements may lead to increased workout duration and enhanced recovery. Theorists also claim that increased blood flow might increase the ‘pump’ from your workout (making your muscle appear enlarged, and your t-shirt’s tighter!), as well as assisting issues related to ED.
Erectile dysfunction is a common problem amongst males which can affect your emotions, relationships and confidence. There are a number of factors affecting its onset and the risks of obtaining it. But thankfully, there are also many mitigating measures that we can take to reduce the risks or relieve the symptoms. Stopping smoking, reducing drug and alcohol intake, increasing exercise and eating better can all play a huge role in your everyday health as well as your sex life. Furthermore, by educating yourself on the causes and symptoms, you should now be in a better position to take the next steps to a happier and healthier you. Alongside methods of lifestyle change, vascularity supplements like our NO Booster may also help to improve the symptoms of ED through vasodilation and increased blood flow. NO Boosters can aid sports performance too, with evidence pointing towards increased exercise capacity, enhanced recovery and a bigger ‘pump’. You can find our NO Booster products available on our website!
If you are concerned about ED or would simply like to learn more, check in and see your local health care professional. Its 2019 now and there is no need to suffer in silence, with so many ways to ‘perk-up-the-pecker’ it’s time to be proactive!