Erections are a complex process that is controlled by many factors, including nerves, hormones, and vascular supply. If one of these factors is not functioning correctly, impotence or erectile dysfunction can result. Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a very common problem and affects men between the ages of 35 and 70. There are many causes for ED, but it is often treatable.
Vitamins for sexual health, do they work, or are they mostly sugar pills? There are a lot of sexual health supplements sold online, and many of those supplements are advertised for erectile dysfunction, it can be hard to sort out what's based on science and what's just clever marketing.
So, What is Erectile Dysfunction (ED)?
ED is the inability to achieve and maintain an erection for sexual intercourse. The disorder can be either physical or psychological. ED can also be due to physical factors that are not necessarily involved in sexual function, such as diabetes or an enlarged prostate. ED can also be the result of certain medications, including antidepressants, some heart medications, some antianxiety medications, and some anti-cancer medications.
When a man is sexually stimulated, the brain sends a signal to the nerves in the penis, which causes the muscles in the corpus spongiosum to contract. This squeezes the urethra shut. The muscles in the corpora cavernosa then contract, causing blood to flow into the penis. As the penis becomes engorged with blood, it enlarges and stiffens, causing an erection.
When an erection can't be maintained, or even achieved, it can really leave a man feeling helpless and frustrated, but it can be helped.
As a note: ED is often a sign of poor cardiovascular health, and can also be an early warning sign of heart disease. Please double-check with your physician if you’re someone with ED who eats a lot of red meats or other fatty foods.
Herbal Supplements for ED
1. Horny Goat Weed (Epimedium sagittatum). Horny Goat Weed contains a chemical called Icariin, which has been shown to improve blood flow to the penis and increase the body's own production of testosterone, the hormone responsible for sex drive and the ability to have sex.
2. Ginkgo Biloba. Ginkgo Biloba is a potent antioxidant with a long history of traditional use as a remedy for memory loss and sexual dysfunction. Some studies have shown that Ginkgo Biloba improves the endothelial function in the penis and protects against damage to the lining of the arteries, which may in turn help with erectile dysfunction.
3. Oyster Extract (Pinctada fucata.) Oyster Extract contains a substance called Aphrodisiac Acid, which can improve overall sexual function in men. Although Oyster Extract is not specifically marketed for ED, it may help to improve erection quality.
4. Maca (Lepidium meyenii). Maca is another food and medicinal plant used for centuries for increasing energy and stamina and improving sexual performance. Maca appears to increase the amount of dopamine and testosterone, as well as the free testosterone/SHBG ratio, which may contribute to improved sexual function.
5. L-Arginine. L-Arginine is an amino acid that is an important precursor for nitric oxide production. Nitric oxide is a signaling molecule that helps the blood vessels relax and dilate, which in turn leads to improved blood flow and erections.
Safety Considerations for Vitamins and Herbal Supplements for ED
To ensure that you're taking the right vitamins and herbal supplements for your condition, always consult a qualified medical professional, such as your doctor or a registered dietitian. In fact, some foods and supplements can interact with certain prescription medications and cause dangerous side effects, so it's important to let your doctor know about any complementary health therapies you're taking.
If you're purchasing online, be sure to carefully read product labels and do some research to make sure you're buying from a reputable company. It's also a good idea to double-check that the supplement is approved by Health Canada or the US Food and Drug Administration.
For more information about vitamins and herbal supplements for ED, talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian.
Other Medical Treatments for Erectile Dysfunction
Sildenafil and Tadalafil are the best nitric oxide supplements for ED.
Nitric oxide (NO) is a chemical that acts as a neurotransmitter in the body. It is involved in the transmission of nerve signals in the brain and in the dilation (widening) of blood vessels. For men, NO is most important in the penis, where it causes smooth muscles in the penis to relax, which allows for increased blood flow and, as a result, an erection.
1. Sildenafil, generic for Viagra.
Sildenafil is one of the first drugs to be approved for the treatment of ED and remains the most popular ED drug.
Sildenafil works by blocking phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE-5), which is an enzyme that breaks down the chemical nitric oxide. When PDE-5 is blocked, nitric oxide levels increase, which leads to blood vessel dilation, increasing blood flow to the penis and improving erection quality.
Sildenafil has been shown to be effective for up to four hours after ingestion. Sildenafil is available in pill form and is taken about 30 minutes to an hour prior to sexual activity.
2. Tadalafil, generic for Cialis.
Tadalafil is another PDE-5 inhibitor and works similarly to Sildenafil.
It is available in pill form and taken only when sexual activity is desired. Tadalafil is effective for about four hours, so it may be taken 30 minutes to an hour before sexual activity.
Tadalafil works by inhibiting PDE-5, which in turn inhibits the breakdown of nitric oxide, leading to increased blood flow to the penis.
How Can I Get ED Medication?
For a lot of men, talking to your doctor about ED can be nerve-wracking. However, it doesn’t have to be. Phoenix Health’s telehealth platform allows patients to communicate with their doctor via text chat, which is a much more comfortable way of having a conversation about these sensitive issues.
At Phoenix Health, we understand the importance of the doctor-patient relationship, which is why we want to help men who are struggling to regain their sexual health by prescribing medications that can help them.
Our appointments are camera-free, and you don't even need to talk on the phone. You and a licensed physician who’s dedicated to your privacy and comfort will be able to text together and discuss your treatment options.
You can get ED medication without leaving your home. Make an appointment today!
This blog post is for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical or other professional advice. Your specific circumstances should be discussed with a healthcare provider. All statements of opinion represent the writers' judgement at the time of publication and are subject to change. Phoenix and its affiliates provide no express or implied endorsements of third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products, or services.