Many men who experience erectile dysfunction (ED) would rather suffer in silence than speak out about it. A 2002 Wall Street Journal article indicated that 80 percent of men never seek treatment for their condition.
ED is defined as the inability to achieve or maintain an erection that is firm enough to begin or complete sexual intercourse. Once thought of as a disorder that affected only men older than 60, newer accounts indicate that almost half of men over age 40 experience ED at one time or another.
Why aren’t we more aware of such numbers? When was the last time you heard a man confiding in others about his lack of sexual prowess?
What’s the Prostate Got to Do with It?
Most men begin to experience some degree of prostate disorder–benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), prostatitis (prostate inflammation or infection), or both–with advancing age. It is no coincidence that ED and prostate disease are closely related since the prostate is an integral part of a man’s sexuality, and proper ejaculation is dependant upon the health of the gland. In fact, half of all men who suffer from prostate disease also suffer from ED.
The majority of early prostate disorders eventually lead to prostate cancer. In numerous studies, excess body fat–especially in the abdominal region–seems to be a determining factor when it comes to both ED and prostate cancer risk.
Although exact reasons for this are still unclear, speculation that the reduction of testosterone and the increase of estrogens as well as plaque buildup (especially in the arteries of the penis) from excess fat interfere with the health of the male reproductive system.
There is even speculation that ED may be an early sign of heart disease. Researchers from the University of Minnesota School of Medicine believe that anyone experiencing ED should be immediately assessed for cardiovascular risk as the body isn’t likely to concentrate fat deposits in one area of the body.
Feeling Blue Without Testosterone
Mention sexual problems such as ED and almost everyone thinks of “the blue pill.” Despite the fact that ED drugs such as sildenafil don’t work for everyone and are associated with numerous possible side effects, this doesn’t stop millions of men from using them. Figures show that one out of every five men over the age of 40 has tried ED drugs, with 48 percent experiencing at least one side effect.
The problem with most is that these pills do nothing to increase sexual arousal. Just because the blood is pumping doesn’t mean you’re in the mood to make things happen. This is where testosterone–the key hormone of desire–comes in. As testosterone levels decline through age, libido also declines. Studies show that low testosterone can lead to ED–especially in diabetics.
Research presented in the International Journal of Impotence Research shows that testosterone supplements should be considered in the treatment of ED. The study indicated that testosterone therapy was able to alleviate ED in 34 percent of men who were unable to experience benefits from sildenafil alone, whereas 38 percent showed improvements by using testosterone along with the ED drug.
Things are looking up for that silent (ED) majority.
- Eat a healthy diet. Italian researchers discovered that those who most closely followed the Mediterranean diet had the lowest incidence of ED.
- Exercise regularly, which effectively reduces blood sugar and helps to clear occluded arteries (yes, even that one).
- Supplement with nutrients such as beta-sitosterol, flower pollen extract, natural lycopene, stinging nettle root, pygeum, selenium, and zinc, which have been shown to help maintain healthy prostate function.
- Supplement with tongkat ali root. Animal studies indicate that a water-extracted 100:1 extract of tongkat ali root can help to naturally elevate testosterone levels and increase libido. Tongkat ali root has been used for centuries throughout Asia as a traditional remedy for sexual dysfunction and lack of energy.