Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a common male sexual problem. ED occurs when a man has trouble achieving or maintaining an erection long enough to have sexual function.
ED is not as simple as the inability to achieve an erection when aroused. It is a complex multi-system dysfunction. Male sexual arousal involves many body systems including the brain, nervous system, blood vessels, muscles, hormones, and emotions. A problem with one part of the body can cause a problem elsewhere, which could then be the cause of ED.
ED is often a symptom and not a condition in itself. If your doctor can diagnose what is causing your ED, it can be treated. Treating the cause should ease the ED.
The most common treatments for ED include:
- prescription medicine
- penis suppository
- testosterone replacement
- a penis pump (vacuum erection device)
- a penile implant
- blood vessel surgery
Lifestyle treatments include:
- sexual anxiety counseling
- psychological counseling
- reaching and maintaining a healthy weight
- stopping tobacco use
- reducing alcohol use
In addition to prescription medications, traditional treatments and lifestyle changes, alternative treatments provide some helpful and beneficial options for men with ED. However, it’s important that you work with your doctor before beginning any alternative treatments.
These five herbs can be used to treat erectile dysfunction. It’s important to know that researchers and medical professionals believe these treatments need more study before they can be considered truly safe and effective.
The roots of ginseng, also called Korean red ginseng, are used to make medicine for several conditions, including ED. Panax ginseng has been studied as a treatment for ED in humans. The plant is regarded as a safe treatment that is possibly effective for treating ED. However, Panax ginseng should only be taken for a short time due to possible complications.
The most common side effect of Panax ginseng is insomnia or trouble sleeping. Ginseng can interact negatively with alcohol, caffeine, and some medications.
Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is a hormone produced naturally by the body. It can also be manufactured using wild yam and soy. DHEA has been studied as a treatment for erectile dysfunction in humans. DHEA is regarded as a safe treatment that is possibly effective for treating ED. However, research suggests DHEA may not be effective if a man’s ED is the result of diabetes or a nerve disorder.
DHEA can interact negatively with some medications. The most common side effects include acne, upset stomach, and hair loss.
L-arginine, or arginine, is an amino acid found in red meat, poultry, fish and dairy products. Arginine can also be created in a laboratory. Arginine is a vasodilator, which means that it helps expand blood vessels and increase blood flow. Arginine has been studied as a treatment for erectile dysfunction in humans. Arginine is regarded as a safe treatment that is possibly effective for treating erectile dysfunction.
Arginine can cause several side effects, including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach cramps. Arginine should not be taken with Viagra, nitrates, or any high blood pressure medications.
Yohimbe is an African evergreen tree. The bark of the tree contains yohimbine, a chemical that is used to make yohimbe. Yohimbe has been studied as a treatment for erectile dysfunction in humans. The tests have shown positive results, but yohimbe is considered possibly unsafe as a treatment for ED in humans.
Serious side effects include kidney failure, seizure and heart attack. Do not take yohimbe without doctor supervision. Do not take yohimbe if you also take antidepressants or stimulant medications.
Pinus pinaster is derived from the bark of a pine tree. Pycnogenol is a trademarked brand name for a supplement that contains the bark. Limited research suggests pycnogenol may help treat ED. However, a patient may need to take it for several months before any benefit is seen.
Side effects of pycnogenol include dizziness, headache, and mouth ulcers. Do not take pycnogenol if you take an immunosuppressant. Because pycnogenol has not had sufficient medical research, your doctor may not recommend you take this alternative medicine for your ED.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns men against purchasing supplements and creams that promise to treat ED. Studies have shown that these drugs can contain prescription medicines or other harmful ingredients. In most cases, these ingredients are not disclosed on the products’ packaging. These undisclosed ingredients might cause severe side effects or interactions. Consult your doctor before purchasing any over-the-counter or online ED treatments.
You should not feel ashamed or nervous to talk with your doctor about your ED. Think of the conversation as a way to talk about your health in general. Often, ED is a sign of another health problem: treating it may treat your ED, too.
Remember that ED is often easily treated; the sooner you speak with your doctor, the sooner you can return to normal, healthy sexual function.