Impotence, also referred to as erectile dysfunction, is a man's inability to attain or sustain an erection sufficient for normal, satisfying sexual intercourse. It was once thought that almost all impotence was caused by psychological factors, but we now know that as many as 85 percent of cases are brought on by physiological disturbances. No matter what the cause, it helps most men to realize that they are not alone. Nearly every man experiences impotence at some point, and almost 20 million have chronic or recurring problems.
Many physiological factors may contribute to impotence, but the most frequent are hormonal changes, medications, diet, and chronic illness. Low levels of testosterone, the male sex hormone, are a critical link to male impotence. The most common cause of impotence is atherosclerosis, which is hardening of the arteries with plaque build up. This causes a problem with blood flow to the penis. Also, dilation of the arteries and blood flow to the genital area are dependent on a chemical produced in the body known as nitric oxide.
In addition, many prescription drugs can cause reduced blood flow to the genitals or can interfere with brain activity, hormones, or nerve transmission. If you suffer from impotence and are on a prescription medication, talk to your doctor. He or she may be able to find alternatives for you.
Diet is another common cause. Just as a high-fat, low-fiber routine can inhibit blood flow to the heart, it can also block the arteries that lead to the penis. Men with high blood pressure or arteriosclerosis may have difficulty maintaining erections. Other chronic illnesses, especially diabetes, can take a toll as well.
It is important to note here that aging is not a cause of impotence. While it's true that impotence affects older people more frequently than it does the rest of the population, this situation can be attributed to the increased incidence of disease and medication in the elderly. And disease itself is not an inevitable part of aging. If you are healthy and content, you can be sexually vigorous well into your eighties and beyond.
If you are not chronically impotent-that is, if you are impotent only in certain situations or can achieve an erection on your own or in your sleep, then it's likely that psychological factors are causing or contributing to your problem. Overwork and fatigue have reached epidemic levels in our society, and many men-especially those who have children-simply feel too tired to enjoy sex. Depression, anxiety, stress, fear of failure, and fear of pregnancy are other frequent causes.
Many cases of impotence can be successfully treated with an improvement in lifestyle and dietary habits, as well as with nutritional supplements, but anyone with a chronic problem should see a doctor first to rule out underlying disorders.
** All of these prescriptions below have been proven effective; level of effectiveness depends on the individual. Please consult your doctor when taking any and all supplements.
The top 7 vitamins and supplements shown to
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product containing 24 percent flavone glycosides and 6 percent terpene
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Prescription # 6 Potency wood (Muira puama) Take 500 mg three
times daily. Studies have shown this herb from South America to improve
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- Inability to achieve or maintain an erection:
- Low levels of DHEA and testosterone
- Prescription medications
- Street drugs
- A diet that's high in fat and low in fiber
- Underlying illness (most often, arteriosclerosis, high blood pressure, and diabetes)
- Hormonal imbalance
- Stress or anxiety
- Other psychological factors (fear of pregnancy, fear of failure, lack of desire)
- Heavy metal poisoning
If an underlying condition or a medication is causing impotence, check with a doctor before undertaking any changes in your diet, medication, or habits.
Eat a healthful diet that's high in fiber and nutrients. Good sources of fiber include fresh raw vegetables, apples, oats, and whole grains.
Vitamin E dilates blood vessels and improves blood flow. Foods that are high in this nutrient include wheat germ, soy products, leafy green vegetables, and whole grain cereals.
Enjoy soybeans, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds as snacks or in salads. They're excellent sources of zinc, which aids the prostate and improves testosterone levels.
Watercress leaves, sesame seeds, and bee pollen are libido enhancers. Add some to your meals every day.
Foods to Avoid
Avoid foods that are high in saturated, hydrogenated, or partially hydrogenated fats, including red meat, butter, margarine, shortening, and refined vegetable oil. A high-fat diet causes circulatory problems and blocks the flow of blood to the genitals.
Eliminate junk and processed foods from your diet. Not only are they generally fatty and lacking in nutrition, they contain chemicals that might affect sexual performance.
Don't eat large meals just before sex. Your body will be too focused on digestion to concentrate on desire.
Moderate your intake of caffeine and alcohol. While a cup of coffee or a glass of wine should not pose a problem for most people, overindulgence can lead to temporary or chronic impotence.
A three-day juice fast will help clear your body of toxins and generally improve your circulation.
- Niacin (vitamin B3) is a vasodilator and improves blood flow. Take 250 mg three time daily
- Zinc is a mineral that's required in the synthesis of testosterone. Take 30 mg twice daily, along with 3 to 5 mg of copper.
- Tribulus terresteris ("Puncture Vine") is a folk remedy for improving libido and erectile function. Take 500 mg three times daily.
- Damiana (Turnera diffusa) is a traditional remedy for impotence that improves blood flow to the genitals. Take 400 to 800 mg or 2 to 3 cc of the tincture three times daily.
- Ashwagandha (Withania somniferum) is an ancient Ayurvedic medicine used to treat stress and impotence. Take 1,000 mg three times daily.
- Yohimbe (Pausinystalia yohimbe) increases blood flow to erectile tissue and increases libido. Take a product standardized to yohimbine hydrochloride at a dosage of 10 mg three times daily. It should be used under the supervision of a doctor and should be avoided by people with high blood pressure, and cardiovascular condition, or kidney disease; by pregnant women; or by individuals being treated for a psychological disorder.
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any disease. As always, consult your physician before taking any and all
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