Erectile dysfunction, or difficulty getting/maintaining an erection is a common concern many males of all ages face. There can be numerous causes such as stress, anxiety, cardiovascular disease (including high blood pressure, and high cholesterol), diabetes, obesity, multiple sclerosis, prostate concerns, etc. As there are several causes that are serious if left untreated, it is important to discuss your concerns with your health care provider. As a naturopathic doctor, here are some of the treatments we would might explore:
Nutrition optimization. Consuming a balanced diet HIGH in vegetables, fruits, and whole grains and LOW in trans-fat and processed/packaged foods are important to prevent cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Foods high in nitrates, such as root vegetables (like radishes, beets, and carrots), broccoli, cauliflower, and spinach should be increased as they promote relaxation of blood vessels which helps promote erections. Another reason why eating your veggies are a good idea!
Reducing stress. When the body is under stress, it goes into survival mode and shuts down function to systems that are not crucial to our immediate survival, including the reproductive system. Eliminate stress from your life by limiting the number of activities you do, getting enough sleep, as well as by ending unhealthy relationships and habits (such as tobacco and alcohol use). Nixing stress promotes a relaxed state in the body where an erection becomes possible.
Herbs. Naturopathic doctors are trained when and how to use specific herbs to promote healthy erections. Ginkgo can be beneficial to promote blood flow to the penis if there is a circulation issue but should not be used in people on blood thinners. Herbs like ashwagandha, and rhodiola can be helpful when stress plays a large factor in erectile dysfunction. Talk to your naturopathic doctor to see if there are herbs that are right for you.
Get moving. Regular physical activity promotes weight loss, relieves stress, improves body image, and promotes healthy circulation, all factors that aid in promoting a healthy libido as well as in getting and maintaining erections. So quit making excuses and start walking, running, cycling, or swimming!
Remember, serious conditions can be linked to erectile dysfunction so it is important to speak to your naturopathic doctor or health care provider so that appropriate physical exam, blood work, and imaging can be completed where necessary. And most of all, remember that health care professionals deal with these types of concerns on a regular basis so do not be shy or embarrassed when seeking help!