Erectile dysfunction is a condition marked by the inability to achieve and maintain an erection before romantic intercourse. Lately, erectile dysfunction has come around as an indicator of deeper, more serious health concerns. Here is what men — and women — should understand about erectile dysfunction and how to treat it.
What Causes Erectile Dysfunction
A cause of erectile dysfunction was previously believed to be atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is the accumulation of a hard plaque against the artery wall — the single greatest precursor to a heart attack. Plaque impairs blood flow, which in turn affects the lining of the blood vessels or the endothelium. A chain reaction occurs that leads to reduced blood flow to the penis. This also contributes to the onset of atherosclerosis and affects the heart. However, erectile dysfunction itself is not a guaranteed sign of a hidden heart-related condition.
Risk Factors of Erectile Dysfunction
Men who drink and smoke artificially elevate their chances of getting it. Alcohol plays a role in eventual heart disease by elevating bad cholesterol (LDL) and raising blood pressure. It’s known to impair erectile maintenance. Smoking is a major cause of vascular disease, as well — this applies to users of chewing tobacco, too.
Diabetic and obese men are already at risk of both erectile dysfunction and cardiovascular diseases. If they add alcohol and tobacco to the mix, things will get much worse.
Age and low testosterone levels play significant roles in erectile dysfunction and myriad other health concerns. As noted by Dr. Robert James of the Sutter Pacific Medical Foundation, age affects the performance of a man’s erection to the point “use it or lose it” loses its status as a running joke. Elections tend to become less firm the more a man ages. Inversely, an underlying heart condition in a younger man — 45 or under — may be the culprit behind the difficulty in achieving.
Two conditions that are frequently linked, atherosclerosis — the buildup of arterial plaque deposits — and high blood pressure, are still leading causes of erectile problems. Medications and diuretics prescribed to men with these problems may also affect performance in bed.
L-arginine and L-carnitine are two amino acids that have less of a presence in the average man’s health due to today’s excesses. L-arginine boosts nitric oxide levels to dilate blood vessels — the same thing Viagra does. L-carnitine is a metabolism agent that also plays a role in blood flow. Both L- compounds can be purchased as supplements (drink lots of water with them to avoid kidney problems) and can be found naturally in animal proteins — chicken, fish, red meat — and walnuts and peas and other foods.
Niacin and Zinc: deficiencies related to these nutrients are common. Both play important roles in the circulatory maintenance and serum testosterone levels. Zinc deficiency can also lead to other problems. Both are readily available as nutraceuticals.
Weight loss is another no-brainer. Excess weight is intrinsic to inflammation and conversion of testosterone into estrogen. One study saw the restoration of $exual function in a third of obese men following an intensively controlled weight loss regimen.
Erectile dysfunction does not need to be debilitating. Nor should it be a reason for a man to invalidate himself. The key to controlling and beating erectile dysfunction is to identify it and proactively curb its effects.