By far the most common cause of ED is vascular dysfunction. When the arteries that supply the penis with blood to achieve and maintain an erection are blocked or hardened, or the lining of these arteries are damaged, blood flow is reduced. Vascular dysfunction not only affects the small arteries of the penis, but the larger coronary arteries of the heart too. Astute doctors now recognize that ED may actually be an early warning sign of impending cardiovascular disease, showing up several years before a cardiovascular event like a heart attack or stroke.2 To maintain healthy vascular function, and in turn, normal erectile function, consider these supplements:
Between 2001–2006, one-third of the US population had insufficient amounts of vitamin D, according to the Institute of Medicine. Risk factors for vitamin D deficiency include obesity and high BMI, not enough sun exposure or outdoor activity, having darker skin and suffering from certain from inflammatory conditions like Crohn’s disease. You can get a blood test to find out if you’re vitamin D deficient.
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While Western medicine emphases the link between cardiovascular function and ED, TCM places importance on liver and kidney ailments as causative factor for development of ED. Western medicine involves a step-wise approach by targeting the relevant organ systems to treat various clinical symptoms; but TCM focuses on restoring the balance between various organs to achieve harmony and holistic approach to inner sense (4). The following article reviews our current understanding regarding the philosophical approach, and evaluates the evidence surrounding various ED therapies between mainstream Western medicine and TCM (see Table 1).
In Western medicine approach, health and disease are clearly divided entities. The emphasis is on protection of the individual body from disease or how to replace the body’s lost functions. Antibiotic therapy is used to combat harmful bacteria during infections, exogenous synthetic hormones are used to replace hormone-deficient individuals and artificial prostheses are applied when an organ loses its functions. This is very different from the holistic Eastern approach where the treatment entity is taken as a whole, and the objective is to seek harmony between different bodily systems.
The use of penile support device such as penile cast worn externally during intercourse has been tried to provide length and rigidity to the penile shaft (24). Each device can be customised to the patient’s penile size and provided an option for patients who are seeking non-pharmaceutical/non-invasive treatment, or have end-organ failure who may not be candidates for, or unable to afford, penile prosthesis implant.

The same device is considered a vacuum erectile device (VED), when it is used to increase inflow of the blood to the penis without a constriction band. Regular use of VED in post-prostatectomy patient increases penile oxygenation and is accepted as a valid option in penile rehabilitation. Recent study reported transient increase in oxygenation to the glans penis and corporal bodies were detected by oximetry after VED was applied, providing proof for possible role for VED to counter the early penile hypoxia, cavernosal fibrosis and long-term ED after radical prostatectomy (9).
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

If you can't take one of these oral medications, your physician may have you try Caverject (alprostadil for injection), a hormone that you inject into your penis using a fine needle, or Muse (alprostadil urogenital), a tiny suppository that you insert into the tip of the penis. Both of these will bring on an erection within five to 15 minutes without sexual stimulation.
ED can be caused by a handful of things, but one thing’s for sure: You need a healthy supply of the neurotransmitter nitric oxide (NO) to get and maintain an erection. NO is produced in nerve tissue and helps jolt your Johnson by relaxing the smooth muscle so blood can fill the penis. After the initial release of NO, your body releases a cascade of chemicals—including more of the neurotransmitter—to help keep you hard and happy, according to a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
To achieve and maintain an erection, healthy blood vessels and an optimum blood flow are essential. Significantly, therefore, Dr. Rath’s research has proven that specific micronutrients play key roles in maintaining the structural integrity of blood vessels and optimizing blood flow. Such micronutrients include vitamins C and E, the amino acids lysine and proline, and the mineral copper.
Pay attention to your vascular health. High blood pressure, high blood sugar, high cholesterol, and high triglycerides can all damage arteries in the heart (causing heart attack), in the brain (causing stroke), and leading to the penis (causing ED). An expanding waistline also contributes. Check with your doctor to find out whether your vascular system — and thus your heart, brain, and penis — is in good shape or needs a tune-up through lifestyle changes and, if necessary, medications.
A recent study in the journal Circulation found that flavonoids in dark chocolate improve circulation. That could be good for erection problems that are due to poor circulation. Flavonoids are naturally-occurring antioxidants that protect plants from toxins and help repair cell damage. Studies show that flavonoids and other antioxidants have similar effects on people. They may help lower blood pressure and decrease cholesterol, both of which are factors that contribute to erectile dysfunction.
Taking one of these tablets will not automatically produce an erection. Sexual stimulation is needed first to cause the release of nitric oxide from your penile nerves. These medications amplify that signal, allowing some men to function normally. Oral erectile dysfunction medications are not aphrodisiacs, will not cause excitement and are not needed in men who get normal erections.
Nitric oxide is made internally from L-arginine, which is an amino acid found in red meat, poultry, fish, and dairy products. In other words, L-arginine is the building block for nitric oxide, which is essential for erections. A lack of one can lead to a lack of the other. However, there’s a problem when it comes to treating L-arginine deficiency with supplements.

10 ways of knowing that you are properly squeezing your pelvic floor muscles (PFM): 1) The base of your penis retracts inwards towards the pubic bone as you contract your PFM. 2) The testes rise towards the groin as you contract your PFM. 3) When you place your index and middle fingers in the midline between the scrotum and anus you feel these muscles tighten as you contract your PFM. 4) You can pucker your anus (not the gluteal muscles) as you contract your PFM. You feel the anus tighten and pull up and in, known as “anal wink.” 5) You get the same feeling as you do when you are ejaculating when you contract your PFM. 6) When you touch your erect penis, you feel the erectile cylinders surge with blood as you contract your PFM. 7) You can make your erect penis elevate (lift and point) as you contract your PFM. 8) You can stop your urinary stream completely when you contract your PFM. 9) You can push out the last few drops of urine that remain after completing urination when you contract your PFM. 10) After pursuing PFM training, you notice improvements in erectile rigidity and durability as well as better quality ejaculations, ejaculatory control and improvement in urinary control.


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These chilly-sounding mollusks have the ability to heat things up quick, with more than three times the recommended daily value of Vitamin B12. A 3-ounce serving also has 20 grams of muscle-boosting protein, with only 4 grams of fat and 150 calories. Like clams, they’re rich in iron, which helps ensure that your blood flows everywhere it needs to. They’re also high in magnesium, a natural enhancer; low levels of the mineral have been shown to contribute to ED. Boost your levels even further with these magnesium-rich foods.
As men age, their estrogen levels gradually rise, while testosterone levels fall. Anti-cancer coupounds called indoles can help strike a balance. Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli are rich in indoles, which boost testosterone production by breaking down and flushing the system of excess estrogen, which inhibits the production of male sex hormones. In one study, supplementing with indole-3-carbinol from cruciferous vegetables for just 7 days cut the estrogen hormone estradiol in half for men. Another study found indole supplementation significantly increased urinary excretion of estrogens.
Yohimbine: The main component of an African tree bark, yohimbine is probably one of the most problematic of all natural remedies for ED. Some research suggests that yohimbine can improve a type of sexual dysfunction that is linked with a drug used to treat depression. However, studies have linked yohimbine to a number of side effects, which can include anxiety, increased blood pressure, and a fast, irregular heartbeat. Like all natural remedies, yohimbine should only be used after advice and under supervision from a doctor.
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