"The problem with alternative treatments for any medical problem, including erectile dysfunction, is that until you have about 20 well-controlled studies over several years, you really don't know what you are working with," cautions Richard Harris, MD, a urologist at Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, part of the Loyola University Health System in Chicago.
If you search the Internet, you’ll find lists of specific foods that are supposed to be good for erectile dysfunction. We’ve researched this topic extensively, searching databases of clinical studies, and found no evidence that these foods provide significant benefits from men with ED. (We suspect that most of the sites on the web are simply copying lists from one another.)
The art of acupuncture has become the new treatment for everything from back pain, depression, and even ED. Impotence could be more of a state of mind, and acupuncture may help. Through this alternative therapy, fine needles are placed in various parts of the body to relieve pain or stress. Although there are many mixed studies for acupuncture and ED, many tend to confirm positive results. A 1999 study found acupuncture improved the quality of erection and even restored sexual activity in 39 percent of participants.
In addition, when research has shown a nutrient such as zinc or niacin to improve sexual function, it's usually in people who are deficient in it. So, before you stock up on over-the-counter nutritional supplements for ED, speak with your doctor. He can test you for deficiencies and steer you toward the most effective and safest way to treat your erectile dysfunction.
During sexual stimulation, sexual thoughts, or nocturnal erections, the neurotransmitter nitric oxide (NO) is released from the endothelial cells and the parasympathetic nerve terminal causing relaxation of two cylinder-like muscles called the corpora carvenosum. Nitric oxide influences an increase in concentrations of cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP), which after numerous pathways triggers smooth muscle relaxation, and simultaneous closing of small veins traps blood in the cavernosal muscles, keeping blood in the cavernosal tissues that cause and maintain an erection.
Poor sleep patterns can be a contributing factor for erectile dysfunction, Mucher says. One review published in the journal Brain Research emphasized the intricate relationship between the level of sex hormones like testosterone, sexual function, and sleep, noting that testosterone levels increase with improved sleep, and lower levels are associated with sexual dysfunction. Hormone secretion is controlled by the body’s internal clock, and sleep patterns likely help the body determine when to release certain hormones.