Erectile dysfunction is a common fertility problem in males; it is even a common reason for divorce in marriages, it more common in older men but younger men are not left out. Over 40% of men worldwide are affected by this medical condition.
Erectile Dysfunction also known as weak erection and impotence is the inability to get or maintain an erection long enough to engage in sexual intercourse.
It is mainly caused by disorders that affect the nerves and blood vessels that are responsible for causing an erection; when a man is sexually aroused, nerves, blood vessels, hormones and muscles work together to create an erection. The brain signals the penis; this stimulates it and makes it to relax.
This leads to free flow of blood into the penis then the blood vessels close up so that the erection can be maintained; after sexual intercourse and arousal, the veins opens up and the blood is released out of the penis.
This condition needs urgent treatment; if not it can lead to health problems like inability to impregnate a woman, it can lead to depression and anxiety; it can affect the quality of life by triggering stress, embarrassment, low self-esteem, relationship problems and sexual dissatisfaction.
The symptoms of erectile dysfunction
For the condition to be diagnosed as erectile dysfunction or weak erection; there need to be a persistent occurrence of this symptoms:
- Reduced sexual desire
- Soft or weak erection
- Poor quality intercourse
- Difficulty getting an erection
- Experiencing erections during the night
- Difficulty maintaining or keeping an erection
Causes of erectile dysfunction
As said earlier; erectile dysfunction is common in older men and it is mainly caused by physical problems. The main causes of erectile dysfunction in older men are diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Others are:
- High cholesterol
- Low levels of testosterone
- Neurological problems
- Hormonal imbalance
- Parkinson’s disease
- Liver and kidney disease
- Peyronie’s disease
- Drug abuse
- Heavy drinking and smoking
- Side effects of some medications like antidepressants and high blood pressure
- Overusing Viagra
- Blood vessel disorders like hardened arteries or blocked arteries
- Multiple sclerosis
- Prostate cancer treatment
Young men between the ages of 20 to 30 can also be affected by this condition; a study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine confirmed the occurrence of this disease in young men. According to the report, one in four patients with erectile dysfunction is a young man.
The causes of erectile dysfunction in young men are based more on unhealthy lifestyle and psychological problems than physical problems and placebo is usually used to treat erectile dysfunction caused by psychological problems. Psychological causes of impotency can result from thought or feelings of anxiety; stress, mental disorders and factors like:
- Work related stress and anxiety
- Feelings of guilt
- Marital problems or relationship problems
- Prolonged emotional distress related to work, the economy, carrier or social issues
- Concern about sexual performance and
- Effects of past sexual trauma.
How Low Testosterone can cause weak erection
Testosterone is the primary male sex hormone and it is produced in the testes; it is the hormone responsible for the development of male sexual characteristics and it is also important for sexual and reproductive development in males.
It is involved in the development of male sex organ before birth; it is responsible for the development of secondary sexual characteristics at puberty like voice tone, growth of facial and body hair and increased penis and testes size.
This hormone plays a major role in sex drive; sexual arousal, production of sperm, and other ways it aids reproduction and a satisfying sex life; but a deficiency in this hormone can lead to a lot of health problems including erectile dysfunction or weak erection, low sex drive, lack of sexual desire and infertility.
Symptoms of low testosterone
The following are common symptoms of low testosterone:
- Reduced or low sex drive
- Soft and brittle bones that are prone to fracture
- Erectile dysfunction or weak erection
- Orgasm trouble
- More body fat
- A reduced level of fluid in the sperm
- Loss of muscle mass or hair
- Genital numbness
- Reduced size or shrinkage of the testicles
- Increased breast size
- Fatigue and decreased energy
- Shrunken and soften testes
- Low sperm count
- Hot flashes
- Mood swings and mood problems
- Mental problems like depression, irritability and inability to concentrate
Causes of low testosterone
This can be caused by a number of factors like:
- Underactive testes
- Cancer treatment especially prostate cancer treatment
- Testicular cancer and its treatment
- Hormonal disorders
- Chronic stress
- Inadequate exercise
- Nutritional deficiencies or insufficient nutrition
- Mumps orchitis; these are infections that can injure the testicles.
- Type II diabetes
- Imbalanced levels of microflora
- Low levels of vitamin D
- Chronic liver or kidney disease
- Physical injuries to the testicles
- Pituitary disorders caused by drugs, kidney failure or small tumors
- Kallmann syndrome
- Inflammatory diseases
- Inflammation of the testes
- Surgical removal of the testes
- HIV/ AIDS
- The process of aging
- Medications like pain killers and steroids
- An underlying medical condition
- Undescended or absent testes
- Injury resulting in loss of testes
- Genetic abnormalities
- Damage to the testes from alcohol or heavy metals
This condition is treatable; lifestyle changes (like weight loss, increased exercise and healthy eating) and use of medications are usually employed, male enhancement pills and testosterone replacement therapy is also used to improve this condition.
It is not advisable for young men to have supplemental testosterone; it can turn off the production of sperm, once a young man goes off the supplementation, there is a chance that his sperm count will be affected and might not return to what it was before he started.
Alternative treatments should be used for men of reproductive age; because the supplementation can affect sperm count and turn off the production of sperm, there is a chance that sperm count will not return to what it was before the supplementation; hormone replacement therapy also has lots of side effects and its best to avoid this and go for an all-natural approach, there are also effective natural remedies for this and they include:
Natural ways to increase the production of testosterone
Intermittent fasting: This is the first option in natural remedies to boost testosterone; it increases the levels of testosterone by over 200%, close to 400%. In this type of fast, you skip breakfast and eat your meals close together; you can take your launch at 1 P.M, another at 3 P.M and the last meal for the day around 6 P.M. This gives your organs a break and allows them to relax; it also refreshes the liver which plays a vital role in balancing testosterone naturally.
Get quality sleep: Quality rest and sleep at the right time are effective ways to increase the levels of testosterone; an adult should have not less than 8 hours sleep at night, it resets the circadian rhythm of the body and this releases chemicals like cortisol that improves hormone balance and prevents low levels of testosterone.
Detoxify your liver: A liver cleanse is a natural way to boost the levels of testosterone; the liver plays a vital role in balancing the levels of testosterone and when it is loaded with toxins, it functions will be affected and the levels of testosterone will be affected too. A study published in the Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology showed that the level of serum testosterone is reduced in up to 90% of men with cirrhosis of the liver and it decreases more as the disease progresses.
Reduce your body fat: To significantly increase the levels of testosterone naturally; one has to lose weight; obesity is a risk factor for low testosterone which leads to a weak erection, so reducing body fat percentage will help improve this condition. To lose weight naturally; exercise regularly, stop eating refined sugar and processed foods and eat healthy foods.
Regular exercise: Heavy weight training and interval training (High Intensity Interval Training workouts) are natural testosterone boosters. Go to the gym at least three days a week and lift heavy weights to boost low levels of testosterone. A study found that this can induce growth hormone and release testosterone; another study showed that even moderate and light weight lifting can increase the levels of serum testosterone.
Review your medications: If you have been placed on a medication by a doctor and you suddenly start noticing a weak erection; you might want to review them and talk about the side effects with your doctor. Some medications like opioid drugs, glucocorticoid drug and anabolic steroids cause low testosterone as a side effect. So tell your doctor about it.
Reduce stress: Chronic stress not only affects the quality of life, it also reduces the level of testosterone; chronic stress can also be caused by frustration, anger issues, unforgiveness and other negative energy and feeling that drops the level of testosterone. A study showed that high levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) elevates the levels of testosterone but after that the level diminishes below normal. Avoid stress and negative emotions.
Get enough zinc: A deficiency of this mineral has been linked to low levels of testosterone and infertility; studies show that this vital mineral plays an important role in regulating the amount of serum testosterone in healthy men. Rich sources of zinc are oysters, beans, nuts, crab, whole grains, poultry and red meat.
Intake of healthy fats: Include lots of healthy fats in your diet to improve the levels of testosterone; a study published in the Journal of Steroid Biochemistry showed that a decrease in the intake of healthy fats reduced the serum concentrations of androstenedione and testosterone. Low fat diet and consumption of too much carbohydrates and junk foods can risk factors for low testosterone.
Healthy fats to take are saturated fats, omega-3 fatty acids and monounsaturated fats; rich sources of healthy saturated fats are coconut oil, raw and fermented dairy products like goat milk kefir, yogurt, raw goat or sheep milk cheese; avoid conventional diary, it reduces the levels of testosterone.
Rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids are salmon, tuna, mackerel, fish oil supplement, flaxseeds, chia seeds and walnuts; while rich sources of monounsaturated fats are avocado, olive oil and almonds; these will help to boost the levels of testosterone naturally.
Increase your intake of vitamin D: Vitamin D3 is a very important nutrient that can boost the production of testosterone; a study showed that this vitamin boosts the levels of testosterone by up to 30% in overweight men. A deficiency in Vitamin D3 reduces the levels of testosterone; a natural way to get this vitamin is to stay in sunlight for 30 minutes each day.
Cut or reduce your intake of sugar: Stop taking refined sugar completely if you want to normalize the levels of your hormone; high intake of sugar depletes the levels of testosterone and it can also lead to diabetes which is a risk factor for erectile dysfunction.
Ginseng: This powerful herb boosts healthy levels of testosterone; take it regularly to boost the level of testosterone.
Diagnosis and treatment of erectile dysfunction
It is important for the root cause to be known; this will aid treatment and hasten healing. Tests used to diagnose this condition are:
- Complete blood count which checks for low amount of red blood cells
- Urinalysis is carried out to measure the amount of protein and testosterone in the urine
- Hormone profile is also carried out to check if the levels of sex hormones are low
- Nocturnal penile tumescence is carried out at night during sleep to measure the function of erection during sleep.
Treatment option varies and they include vacuum devices, surgery, medications injected into the penis, medications injected into the urethra and medications taken orally. There are also effective home remedies for this condition.
Home remedies for erectile dysfunction
Garlic: Apart from its powerful antibacterial and immune boosting properties; this wonderful herb is a sex rejuvenator and can boost sexual activities. It is also used by those who overindulge in sex to treat exhaustion; it treats impotence and boosts the production of sperm thereby aiding fertility.
Ginseng: Chinese have used this powerful herb for centuries to increase vitality and stamina; it is also used for longevity and it increases sexual energy and fertility.
Asparagus: This is used in treating impotency and premature ejaculation. Boil the root powder and take it daily to improve the situation.
Yohimbine: This tree extract has long been used in Africa as an aphrodisiac; it also has other medicinal purposes but it is mainly used in the treatment of impotence. Its effects can last for three hours and it can take up to 30 minutes to take effect.
Ginger: Ginger root is a powerful aphrodisiac; it treats sexual weaknesses and problems, take ginger juice daily to reverse this condition.
Horny goat weed: This herb as the name sounds is potent in treating impotence; it raises the level of testosterone and improves sex drive and libido.
Okra: Also known as lady’s finger; they improve and restore sexual vigor. Take regularly.
He Sho Wu: This is another potent Chinese herb that is effective in raising the levels of testosterone; it is commonly used in China to increase sexual energy, vitality and fertility.
Dried dates: These sweet fruits restores sexual libido, improves endurance and stamina.
Pine bark extract: This contains an active compound called proanthocyanidins; this compound improves the flow of blood and reduce the symptoms of weak erection. Avoid this herb if you are taking chemotherapy, anticoagulants and immunosuppressive medications.
Saffron: This popular Ayurvedic herb is used to relax the nerves and arouse sexual desire; it is usually consumed for sexual vigor.
L-arginine: This supplements helps in treating the symptoms of ED and increases the flow of blood to the body and penis. Natural sources of l-arginine are red meat, dairy, fish and poultry.
Onions: This is one of the best natural remedies for boosting libido; add it generously to meals and you can crush them and mix with honey, take this mixture daily on an empty stomach.
Carrots: Carrots are potent in treating impotency; take them regularly to relieve the symptoms of impotency and builds sexual stamina.
Raisins: Ayurvedic system of healing makes use of black raisins to regain and build sexual vigor; they are usually boiled with milk and both the milk and black raisins are eaten together.