Simple Tricks For Erectile Dysfunction: Are They Really Effective?

If you’ve been browsing the web for erectile dysfunction fixes, you’ve undoubtedly come across plenty of tips and tricks — many of which seem too good to be true. It can be challenging to navigate all the information available on the internet. Here’s what you need to know about the most popular treatments and therapies that work for erectile dysfunction.

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What is erectile dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction¹ is the inability to achieve or sustain an erection long enough to engage in sexual intercourse. Many men of all ages experience erectile dysfunction. However, it is more common with advancing age. Studies² show that over 40% of American men aged 60–69 and around seven out of ten men 70 and over experience erectile dysfunction. 

Occasional or persistent erectile dysfunction can affect a man’s confidence and quality of life. So it’s important to recognize the warning signs early and to get help. 

What are the signs of erectile dysfunction?

If you can’t achieve or maintain an erection long enough to have sexual intercourse, you have erectile dysfunction. If it’s unusual or new, it can be helpful to think about when it started. Sometimes, erectile dysfunction is a symptom of another condition (more on that below).

What causes erectile dysfunction?

An erection is triggered by increased blood flow into two areas of the penis called the corpora cavernosa. Various neurotransmitters, including hormones, send instructions to expand the blood vessels leading to the penis,  allowing more blood to flow into the erectile tissue and causing the penis to swell and become erect. 

Psychogenic erectile dysfunction results from conditions like depression, stress, and anxiety. In this type, the body releases extra noradrenaline — an anti-erectile neurotransmitter — in response to the stress.

Neurogenic erectile dysfunction happens when the body fails to send the right (or the right amount of) nerve signals to the corpora cavernosa. This type is secondary to a primary condition, such as diabetes, multiple sclerosis, or a traumatic brain injury. 

Vasculogenic erectile dysfunction is caused by vascular diseases or conditions that cause poor blood flow. It results from damage to the blood vessels caused by other conditions, such as high blood pressure.

Iatrogenic erectile dysfunction results from nerve injury, most often from radical pelvic surgery.

Other cases of erectile dysfunction are caused by abnormal levels or behaviors of hormones or muscle cells. In addition, certain lifestyle factors, including smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol, are also linked to erectile dysfunction.

Which tricks are effective in managing erectile dysfunction?

There’s a lot of information on the internet (some accurate, some not), and many websites claim to have found the miracle cure for erectile dysfunction. Here’s what you need to know about some of the tricks and therapies you may come across in your search for erectile dysfunction treatments: 

Acupuncture 

Acupuncture is a popular therapy for a range of health conditions. There is some evidence³ that acupuncture may help treat erectile dysfunction, but more research is needed to confirm its effectiveness. 

Herbal remedies

Herbal remedies have become increasingly popular in recent years to treat various health conditions. 

Herbal remedies may be appealing to treat erectile dysfunction, but they should be approached with caution, as research on the effectiveness and safety of herbal remedies is lacking.

For example, while there are plenty of websites and articles boasting the positive effects of ashwagandha⁴ for men with erectile dysfunction, research⁵ shows that the herb is no more effective than a placebo (a substance that looks like the one being studied but doesn’t contain the treatment) in treating psychogenic erectile dysfunction. 

Penis pumps

A vacuum penis pump⁶ increases blood flow into the penis to trigger or support an erection. However, there are several possible side effects, such as coldness, numbness, or bruising. 

There’s a bit of a learning curve, so you may need to practice using a penis pump a few times before you get it right. However, if you experience significant or sustained pain or discomfort from using the device, you should stop using it and consult your doctor. 

Medication

Erectile dysfunction medications are typically effective for men who struggle with erectile dysfunction. You’ve likely heard of Viagra, the most commonly prescribed treatment.

Viagra and other erectile dysfunction medications, including those containing tadalafil and papaverine, work by increasing blood flow to the penis. 

While these medications are effective and are typically safe when taken as directed, they can cause side effects, including headaches, dizziness, and skin rashes. It’s also essential to note that some men, including those with uncontrolled blood pressure and those taking alpha-blockers, may not be able to take erectile dysfunction medications.

Speak to your doctor about your health conditions and medications before starting treatment for erectile dysfunction.

Lifestyle changes 

Lifestyle changes can be highly effective in managing erectile dysfunction. Certain habits are linked to erectile dysfunction, including smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol.

Smoking damages blood vessels. Since sufficient blood flow is necessary to achieve an erection, this blood vessel damage may lead to erectile dysfunction. More research is needed, but existing research⁷ suggests that quitting smoking may improve erectile functioning. 

Changing your diet may also help manage erectile dysfunction. Studies⁸ have shown that men who are obese are more likely to experience erectile dysfunction. Therefore, changing your diet and exercising to reach and maintain a healthy weight may help.

If stress plays a role in your erectile dysfunction, employing stress reduction techniques may help resolve the issue. In some cases, it’s necessary to seek professional help.

If you’re struggling to deal with stress, depression, or anxiety, and you suspect it’s affecting your sexual performance (or any other aspect of your life), consider seeing a therapist. 

When to see a doctor 

Experiencing symptoms that are consistent with erectile dysfunction? Your doctor can help you decide which treatment or therapy options best suit your needs. If you want to make lifestyle changes to improve your sexual health, your doctor can also assist with that.

The lowdown 

There is no simple, fix-all trick for erectile dysfunction. It’s essential to consult your doctor if you’re experiencing any signs of erectile dysfunction, as it can be a sign of an underlying condition. Your doctor will help determine what’s causing your symptoms and guide you in treating them.

  1. Erectile dysfunction – an update of current practice and future strategies (2013)

  2. Prevalence and risk factors for erectile dysfunction in the US (2006)

  3. Acupuncture for erectile dysfunction: A systematic review (2016)

  4. An overview on Ashwagandha: A Rasayana (Rejuvenator) of Ayurveda (2011)

  5. Efficacy of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera Dunal. Linn.) in the management of psychogenic erectile dysfunction (2011)

  6. Treatment for erectile dysfunction | NIH: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)

  7. Effects of cigarette smoking on erectile dysfunction (2015)

  8. Erectile dysfunction and central obesity: An Italian perspective (2014)

Other sources:

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