Erectile Dysfunction (ED) is defined as a difficulty to get and keep an erection that is firm enough for sex.
It’s pretty common. Erectile Dysfunction affects approximately 10% of men in each life decade. According to a University of Wisconsin study in 2019, 50% of men in their 50s are or have been affected by ED.
What Causes Erectile Dysfunction?
First off, let’s start with how an erection works. Erections start in the brain. When a man is stimulated by a sight, smell or touch, this thought sends a message to their blood vessels in the penis via the nerves. One’s arteries then relaxes and lets blood flow. Blood is rushed into the Penis and it gets trapped within what’s called the corpora cavernosa. The penis expands and this is where the erection is held.
ED can happen due to a problem at any step in the erection process. Whether blood flow, the nerve supply or hormones, any of these systems can affect the erectile function.
Causes can be both physiological and psychological. The common physiological causes are due to heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity as well as due to smoking, alcoholism, and substance abuse.
Psychological causes include depression, anxiety, stress, or relationship problems. Make sure to address your mental health with a licensed therapist if you believe it is one of these!
How to address ED?
Because there are multiple causes, there are multiple treatments. If psychological, the best way to help would be to speak with your doctor or a licensed therapist. The most common physiological treatment is via the use of medication, a.k.a. ED Drugs.
The four most common ED drugs are:
Avanafil (Stendra), Sildenafil (Viagra), Tadalafil (Cialis), and Vardenafil (Levitra). If you want to use these, you should definitely speak with your doctor.
The natural over-the-counter (OTC) treatments for ED are vitamins and herbal supplements.
What vitamins are good for erectile dysfunction?
Vitamin D, also known as the sunshine vitamin, is a fat-soluble vitamin that promotes calcium absorption in the gut and helps maintain strong bones.
There is a correlation between ED and Vitamin D Deficiency.
Studies have shown a correlation between people who experience erectile dysfunction and are vitamin D deficient. In addition, a 2018 study suggested that reaching a healthy level of Vitamin D can improve testosterone levels, which increases erectile function.
Although there is a strong correlation, it does not expressly imply causation. But, it definitely doesn't hurt to ensure you are vitamin D sufficient. Additionally, upping your vitamin D intake helps boost your immune system and supports bone health.
Niacin is an essential nutrient that is made and used by one’s body to convert food into energy. It aids in keeping the skin, nervous and digestive system healthy.
Niacin is also known to aid in decreasing high blood pressure, and lower hardening of arteries as well as high cholesterol. These are all known to cause erectile dysfunction.
In a 2011 study, patients with moderate to severe ED who received niacin showed a significant improvement in scores on the International Index of Erectile Function.
Vitamin C is an essential nutrient and is used to repair tissue and help in the enzymatic production of neurotransmitters. Vitamin C increases the Nitric Oxide (NO) enzyme process. This process is essential for health because it lets blood, nutrients and oxygen travel efficiently to each part of the body.
In a 2010 study, Vitamin C in combination with Folic acid, calcium and Vitamin E supported the biochemical pathways, which led to NO release.
According to the study, “After production of NO and cyclic GMP are improved, use of phosphodiesterase-5 inhibitors should result in greater success in treating remaining erectile dysfunction.” In essence, this combination showed promising results in treading ED. Exciting news for the vitamin C fanatics!