Impotence: Erectile Dysfunction - Natural Treatments
Treating Impotence Naturally
Erectile dysfunction, otherwise known as impotence, affects more than 30 million men each year. Yet only about 200,000 of those affected seek help from a physician. Impotence remains largely unrecognized simply because most men do not discuss sexual problems with their doctors. In addition, many physicians do not ask or are uncomfortable dealing with the subject. Erectile dysfunction is defined as the inability to sustain an erection well enough to perform intercourse and ejaculation. While almost all men will experience some degree of sexual difficulty at one time or another, only those who are unable to have successful intercourse 75 percent of the time are considered impotent. Contrary to popular belief, aging does not inevitably cause impotence. It does, however, take elderly men longer to develop erections, and the force of their ejaculations is generally diminished.
Erectile dysfunction can be broken down into primary and secondary impotence. Primary causes are rare and may be associated with low androgen levels, genetic defects and severe psychopathology. Secondary impotence is much more common and, as the name implies, results from something else such as diabetes, arteriosclerosis, neurological disorders, psychological issues, prolonged stress or previous surgery to the genitalia. Blood pressure medications and antidepressants may also lead to impotence, especially in the elderly.
Psychological causes account for the majority of impotency complaints, yet dietary factors, largely ignored by conventional medicine, also fuel the problem. Men with diets high in caffeine, sugar and alcohol experience more erectile dysfunction, as do men who smoke and use recreational drugs. (1)
Erections are often a result of combined tactile, visual and memory stimuli, and a deficit in one or more areas can lead to impotence.
According to Tyler(2), Psychogenic factors such as sexual anxieties, guilt, fear, feelings of inadequacy, and the like, are responsible for 50 to 60 percent of erectile dysfunction. The remainder of such cases are caused by organic factors.
A number of diseases can be associated with impotence, especially diabetes and arteriosclerosis. Both conditions affect the blood flow into the penis, making it more difficult to achieve and susttain an erection.
Conventional medical doctors usually treat impotence by prescribing a drug regimen or performing surgery -- but both have drawbacks. Oral medications such as ErecAid(R) or testosterone are rarely effective unless the condition is due to low testosterone levels. Penile injections of papaverine or prostaglandin E(1), which affect penile blood flow, can prolong erections, yet they also require other drug therapy to counter the effects. Such therapies may cause burning and eventual fibrosis of the penis. Lastly, malleable or inflatable prostheses, used in severe cases of impotence, require surgical implantation and are uncomfortable and subject to periodic failure.
In contrast, vitamins, minerals, herbals and homeopathic medicines can correct impotence by treating its primary cause.(1)
As with any genitourinary tract condition, a good nutritional program is a must. Most impotency problems, be they of a psychological or physiological nature, respond to nutritional therapy. For instance, caffeine and tobacco are stimulants, yet both also relax muscles and deplete nerve endings of neurotransmitters, making it more difficult to maintain an erection. Prolonged use of tobacco, c