Research & Education

Erectile Dysfunction


They say that memory is the first to go as we age.  For many that may or may not be true. As both genders age and as we move away from optimal reproductive years we all experience or will eventually experience a progressive and not unexpected change in hormone levels. For women the phase of life known a menopause brings with it symptoms of hot flashes a radical decrease in menses and mood and sleep issues to name a few. In men on the other hand the journey to andropause the male version of menopause can be a little less overt and more subtle.

Erectile dysfunction (ED) understandably the bane of many men can actually be one of the first things that go and a typical symptom of male andropause. While ED is a complex process normally associated with a decrease in testosterone production there are other factors that can contribute to ED independent of testosterone and at the same time can also be indicative of other associated health problems.

For instance those men suffering from hyperthyroidism have a dramatically increased risk of developing severe ED.  Obesity may also be associated with an increased risk as those that are significantly ov erweight appear to have circulation problems which will affect not only blood flow to the penis but also blood flow to the heart subsequently increasing the risk for cardiovascular disease including heart attacks.

While it may be obvious that depression could play a role in the development of ED and for that matter vice versa  I bring this up as SSRI type anti-depressants a front line medication used to address depression can also bring with it the common side effect of ED further complicating an already difficult situation.

Smoking has become a classic risk factor for increasing ones risk of developing ED. It is also dose dependent with those who smoke more cigarettes experiencing more potential difficulty.

Another interesting correlation was identified by researchers who found that men with ED were 53% more likely to have coronary artery calcification. Now being of a nutritional mind could vitamin K which is responsible for calcium metabolism in the blood be in a deficient state in such a population? 


Viable natural alternatives

There are various natural compounds that have been shown to help address ED. Most work to increase the production and release of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is a compound largely responsible for venous dilation and therefore improved blood flow. Some of these include the nutrient l-arginine as well as the medicinal herbs ginko biloba and maca.

While all the negativity surrounding ED may lead one to feel rather depressed (oh oh!) a positive fascinating and yet simple preventative was discovered by scientists who reported that those men between the ages of 55-75 that had intercourse once per week had a significantly less incidence of experiencing the condition than men who had sex less than once per week.

Now the above raises some questions including were the men with the more active sex lives actually reflecting of higher levels of testosterone than the others study subjects or were those having more sex living healthier lifestyles? Regardless of these simple study confounders this simple solution may at the very least be the most enjoyable.

Michael Fuhrman D.C