December 15, 2021 6 min read
Original article published by: Medical News Today
Erectile dysfunction has many possible treatments, including prescription drugs, physical devices, and natural remedies. Do these methods work, and are they safe?
Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a common condition that refers to a recurrent inability to get or maintain an erection of sufficient rigidity and duration for sexual intercourse.
ED can be due to physical or psychological factors, such as problems with blood flow or anxiety over sexual performance.
It is not uncommon to experience problems with erections occasionally. However, if it happens routinely and disrupts a person’s life, they can try various treatments.
This article discusses the various ED treatment options, including natural remedies, alternative medicine, and prescription drugs. It also explores their risks.
ED happens when blood flow to the penis is limited. Determining its cause can help people find the most appropriate treatments.
In some cases, ED has a physical cause, such as a treatable health condition or circulation problem. Treating any underlying conditions will help. People can take steps to boost their circulation, such as doing regular exercise, quitting smoking if applicable, and making dietary changes.
A doctor may also recommend prescription ED drugs, such as sildenafil (Viagra).
Some people also try natural or alternative treatments, including over-the-counter (OTC) pills, herbal remedies, and acupuncture.
It is important to understand the possible risks associated with ED treatments, especially natural remedies, which the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved.
A person should speak with a doctor about treating ED.
While many natural remedies for ED are available in stores and online, none have received FDA approval.
The Urology Care Foundation agrees, saying that although supplements are popular and often cheaper than prescription drugs, they are not guaranteed to be safe or effective.
There are very few studies on the safety of natural remedies for ED. Some remedies have side effects varying from mild to severe.
The following list looks at some common natural remedies that people use for ED:
L-arginine is an amino acid, which is a building block of protein. It is a vasodilator, meaning that it can help open up the blood vessels. In theory, this could increase blood flow to the penis and help produce an erection.
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However, scientific studies have not proven that taking L-arginine supplements can treat ED. More research is necessary before researchers know the safety and effectiveness of this remedy.
People should avoid taking L-arginine alongside prescription ED drugs, such as Viagra, as this combination can cause blood pressure to drop too low. It can also lead to headaches or flushing.
That said, more studies are needed before researchers know the actual safety and effectiveness of this treatment.
Side effects are usually mild and can include a skin rash, nausea, diarrhea, and heartburn. This substance may not be safe for people with vascular disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, or liver cirrhosis, among other conditions.
Ginkgo biloba may increase blood flow to the penis, which could improve sexual desire and counter ED.
It can also increase the risk of bleeding and may be dangerous for people taking blood thinners, such as warfarin (Coumadin), or those with other bleeding disorders.
Ginseng, or Panax ginseng, is a popular home remedy. Certain chemicals in this plant may promote the relaxation of the body’s smooth muscles, helping produce an erection.
Yohimbine, the main component of an African tree’s bark, is a traditional aphrodisiac.
Yohimbine hydrochloride, a different form of yohimbine, is available as a prescription drug for ED. This is a different product than dietary supplements made from tree bark.
Certain activities or a lack of activity can affect ED. People who have not already adopted the following lifestyle measures may find that they improve the symptoms of ED:
Exercise can benefit ED by improving blood pressure, blood flow, mood, and stamina. It is also an effective method for improving overall health.
A healthy diet helps keep the circulatory system and the rest of the body healthy. Eating a varied, nutrient-rich diet reduces the risk of heart disease, clogged arteries, obesity, and diabetes, which are risk factors for ED.
Smoking is a major risk factor for ED as it reduces blood flow to the penis. Drinking excess alcohol can also have an effect.
Stress and anxiety can have a significant effect on sexual desire and erectile function. Common sources of stress include health, work, finances, and relationships.
Some people try alternative therapies, such as acupuncture and yoga, for ED. There are few studies available to support their effectiveness for the condition. However, they may help reduce stress, which could improve ED.
Prescription medications can increase blood flow to the penis. The four main FDA-approved drugs for ED are:
These drugs, known as PDE5 inhibitors, relax the muscles in the penis to enhance blood flow.
Side effects of prescription ED drugs can include:
Prescription ED drugs are not safe for everybody, including people with very low blood pressure, uncontrolled high blood pressure, or liver or kidney disease.
People who are taking nitrate-containing medications should also avoid these drugs.
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Taking erectile dysfunction pills is still the easiest way for most older men to manage their ED. The drugs work quickly to increase blood flow to the penis to help produce and maintain an erection, and the effect can last several hours, usually with minimal side effects. But ED pills don’t work for everyone, or the results are inconsistent.