Are you unable to maintain an erection during sex? You may be dealing with erectile dysfunction (ED) or impotence. You might have heard that magnesium supplementation can improve ED, but studies don’t show much to support this idea. Here’s more about ED, its symptoms and risk factors, and different treatment options available to you.
If you are having trouble keeping an erection from time to time, it’s usually not a reason for concern. When the issue is ongoing, however, it may indicate a bigger health concern like heart disease or diabetes.
The symptoms of ED include:
- difficulty getting an erection
- difficulty maintaining an erection
- loss of interest in sex
- premature ejaculation
As much as 4 percent of men in their fifties and up to 17 percent of men in their sixties have ED. Younger men can also experience regular difficulty reaching and keeping an erection for a variety of reasons.
Risk factors and diagnosis
Getting an erection involves both the brain and the body, and many things can disrupt the balance. If you’re experiencing any ED symptoms and you have risk factors, you may want to visit your doctor for a checkup. The risk factors for ED include:
- advanced age
- conditions like diabetes, heart disease, anxiety, and depression
- prostate problems
- use of medications to treat medical and psychological conditions
- a body mass index (BMI) in the overweight or obese ranges
- previous injuries, surgeries, or medical treatments
- heavy use of tobacco products, drugs, or alcohol
- a history of avid cycling over long periods of time
ED is typically diagnosed by asking for a person’s sexual history and by doing a physical exam. You may also have laboratory tests to check hormones and other levels. A psychosocial evaluation can assess you for any psychological factors that might contribute to your condition.
Magnesium and ED
Magnesium is a mineral that is responsible for regulating many of your body’s reactions, including:
- protein synthesis
- muscle and nerve function
- blood glucose control
- blood pressure regulation
You can find it in foods like nuts, seeds, and green leafy vegetables, or in various dietary supplements and certain medications.
In 2006, BJU International published a study exploring a possible link between low magnesium levels and premature ejaculation. Results from this small study remain inconclusive, but the study has sparked discussion about magnesium and ED on many online resources.
There have been no recent studies conducted to back these claims. In the end, there’s little evidence that taking in more magnesium helps with ED.
Side effects of magnesium
If you choose to supplement regardless, do so wisely. Too much magnesium from food sources poses little threat to your health. Your kidneys help your body get rid of the excess through your urine.
Too much magnesium from supplement or medicine sources may give you unpleasant gastrointestinal side effects, including:
- stomach cramps
If you have kidney disease, excessive magnesium intake can be risky. Talk to your doctor before taking supplements or over-the-counter medicines containing magnesium.
Your best bet for maintaining healthy magnesium levels is a diet rich in healthy fruits, vegetables, legumes, and other mineral-rich foods. Still concerned you might be deficient? Your doctor can test your blood to determine your levels and prescribe the appropriate supplementation, if necessary, for your general health.
If you suffer from ED, simple lifestyle changes may help.
- If you smoke, stop today. While you’re at it, limit your use of alcohol and steer clear of other drugs.
- Get regular exercise. Moving your body can help you lose weight, lower cholesterol and blood pressure, increase energy levels, and help with anxiety and sleep issues.
- Reduce stress. The body copes with stress in different ways.
- Eat a healthy diet.
- See your doctor to rule out any larger health issues that might be causing your ED.
Beyond modifying your lifestyle, there are various treatments your doctor may prescribe or recommend.
There are different oral medications that help to increase blood flow to the penis. These include:
These medications do have side effects, including headache, upset stomach, and nasal congestion. They also have interactions with other drugs. Many men, however, have taken them successfully.
There are also different medications you can administer with a needle or in suppository form. Testosterone therapy is another option for cases where ED is caused by low hormone levels.
If medicines don’t do the trick, your doctor may also explore some of the following options and their associated risks with you:
- a penis pump, which creates an erection by pulling blood into the penis
- a penile implant, which involve rods that are inflatable or semi-rigid for erections on demand
- surgery, which can work if you have blood flow issues preventing an erection
When to call your doctor
Before you try treatment for ED at home, make an appointment with your doctor. Since ED can be a symptom of other health issues, it’s important to understand the root cause so you can find the best solution.
ED is a common issue for men of all ages, so don’t hold back any information that might help with your diagnosis. The more details you can give, the better chance your doctor can find the right course of action for you.
Erectile dysfunction is a complex issue that can affect you physically and psychologically. With the right treatment, including simple lifestyle changes, many men are able to find relief from their symptoms.