Men's Health

What Is ED? Learn What You Can Do About It

The inability to “get it up” afflicts even the best of men from time to time. Let’s face it, not even world-class athletes do their best during every game, match, or tournament.

A weak, short-lived erection or no erection at all doesn’t mean you have erectile dysfunction (ED). It means you’re a normal guy. You deal with stress, fatigue, and illness, and these occasionally interfere with performance in bed.

Related: Blood in Semen: How Serious It is, Causes & Treatment

So then, what is ED?

“Men who cannot get or maintain an erection (75% of the time that they attempt sex) are considered to have erectile dysfunction,” says WebMD.com. The National Institutes of Health estimates 5% of men over age 40 and 15-25% of men over age 65 fit that ED description. However, it affects younger men, too.

Let’s explore what ED is and what you can do about it.

How an Erection Works

The corpus cavernosum are two sponge-like chambers that run the length of the penis. When stimulation occurs, the body releases nitric oxide, which dilates blood vessels. This allows more blood to flow into the penis where it becomes trapped in the corpus cavernosum.

As those chambers become engorged in blood, the penis enlarges and hardens. When stimulation stops, What Is ED blood is released from the corpus cavernosum and the penis returns to its normal size.

All these factors must be in place for an erection to occur and last:

  • Physical and/or mental stimulation must happen
  • Penile nerves must function properly
  • Blood circulation must be sufficient
  • Veins must trap blood inside the penis

If a temporary issue comes up, your sexual performance may suffer for the night. But an ongoing condition that interferes with these factors may lead to clinical ED.

What Causes Erectile Dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction is most commonly caused by diseases or factors that affect 4 critical areas:

  • Brain
  • Nerves
  • Blood circulation
  • Veins

Although stimulation occurs by touch, as well as emotional stimuli, it all comes back to the brain. The brain sends signals to the penis to cause an erection. Stress, depression, and anxiety are psychological issues that may hamper the brain’s ability to send those signals. If these issues are ongoing, ED may ensue.

Nerve disease or damage (e.g. caused by injury to the penis) could prevent signals from going to or coming from the brain; leading to ED.

Atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) or insufficient nitric oxide production may affect blood flow, which is critical for strong erections.

Coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and peripheral vascular disease may reduce the ability of veins to transport and trap enough blood to maintain an erection.
Natural Ways to Treat ED

Sometimes, ED is caused by a condition or disease that only a doctor or medication can treat. But other times, you can treat ED naturally without stepping foot into a doctor’s office.

Stay Active

If you’re not physically active, it’s a lot harder to stay sexually active. Being active or exercising reduces the risk for disease, improves blood circulation, strengthens veins, and boosts stamina. What’s more, physical activity releases mood-boosting endorphins, and reduces stress and depression.

Eat the Right Foods

First, let’s talk about the wrong foods. If you eat foods high in LDL cholesterol, bad fat, and sodium, your risk increases for cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and poor circulation. And all these factors contribute to ED.

Eat a healthy diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, lean meat, whole grains, and good fats. Make sure you’re getting enough vitamins and minerals, too. Zinc, for example, aids sperm, semen, and testosterone production.

Use Herbal Remedies

Natural ingredients such as tribulus terrestris, horny goat weed, and eurycoma longifolia are popular for boosting testosterone, increasing nitric oxide, and enhancing libido. Research indicates these 3 ingredients can be used to treat ED caused by low testosterone or declining nitric oxide levels.

What Is EDD-aspartic acid, L-arginine, and L-citrulline are naturally-occurring amino acids also used to treat ED.

ED – It’s Not the End

Just because you can’t get it up every time you want to have sex doesn’t mean you have ED. ED is an ongoing condition, which is usually the symptom of an underlying issue or disease.

If you think you might have ED, talk to your doctor about treatment options. Sometimes medication is required or lifestyle changes are in order. Although the risk for ED increases with age, the condition is not considered normal and is completely treatable. ED doesn’t have to signal the end of your sex life.

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