Dr Tatenda Simango
I hope I find you well. This week we have a deeper look into diets and treatment methods available for erectile dysfunction.
Psychological treatment is a major part of the treatment as it helps in strengthening communication in a romantic relationship. Even when erectile dysfunction has a physical cause, psychotherapy can help. A therapist can teach the man and his partner techniques to reduce performance anxiety and improve intimacy. Therapy can also help couples adjust to the use of vacuum devices and implants.
Despite the male being with erectile dysfunction, your partner is also affected. Talking openly about erectile dysfunction will help your partner understand the diagnosis and treatment options. This can reassure them that you haven’t lost interest. Sharing intimate times that do not involve sex go a long way in relaxing and boosting the confidence of the male partner.
Erectile dysfunction is less common among those who follow a Mediterranean diet; favours fresh, plant-based foods with fish and a little meat over processed foods and a high intake of meat.
Garlic in your diet may help keep your arteries healthy and clear as you age.
Lycopene, an antioxidant that’s good for your heart, prostate, and skin is also useful. Sources of lycopene include:
– Watermelon — which also contains citrulline, a compound that helps relax blood vessels and improve blood flow.
– Red peppers — You might spice up your love life by adding some chili peppers to your diet. Pepper relaxes the arteries and that helps blood flow to the heart and other organs including the penis. Chillies can also help lower blood pressure and cholesterol and prevent blood clots
– Papaya (commonly confused with a pawpaw).
Nitric acid boosters
According to the American Urology Society L-arginine is an amino acid naturally present in your body. It helps make nitric oxide. Nitric oxide relaxes blood vessels to facilitate a successful erection and is essential for healthy sexual functioning. Natural foods that are rich in L-arginine include fish, red meat, poultry, soya, whole grains, walnuts/pistachios nuts, beans and dairy products.
Flavonoids increase blood flow and the concentration of nitric oxide in the blood, examples include dark chocolate, red wine, green tea.
Grapefruit and pomegranate juice have been seen to boost nitric acid production.
Kale (vegetable in the cabbage family) are also a nitric-oxide booster. Aside from the possible benefits to your sex life, leafy greens are nutritional powerhouses. They’re packed with vitamins, minerals and omega-3s.
Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is a natural hormone produced by your adrenal glands. It can be converted to both oestrogen and testosterone in the body. Scientists make the dietary supplement from wild yam (madhumbe/magogoya) and soya.
A Massachusetts male aging study showed that men with erectile dysfunction, those receiving the DHEA were more likely to achieve and maintain an erection.
Olive oil may help your body make more testosterone. It’s also full of the good-for-you monounsaturated fat, which can help get rid of the bad cholesterol in your body.
Men who drank two cups’ worth of caffeine a day were less likely to have erectile dysfunction, a Harvard study found. That’s because caffeine helps boost blood flow.
In 2010, a Mayo clinic study found that those who consumed three or more drinks a week and smoked tobacco were more likely to have erectile dysfunction than non-smokers who drank the same amount and did not appear to have a higher risk. Interestingly, moderate alcohol consumption may decrease the risk of erectile dysfunction.
Other alternative therapies thought to help erectile dysfunction include zinc supplements (especially for men who are low in zinc), the herb Indian ginseng, and ginkgo biloba, but more studies are needed to know with certainty. Yohimbe supplement which is extracted from the bark of the African yohimbe tree has shown positive effects on erectile dysfunction.
Acupuncture, for those into exotic treatment, improved the quality of erections and restored sexual activity in over 20 percent of participants.
On the exotic tip, oysters (shellfish) may boost your testosterone levels, and that can help with sex drive. They’re also chock-full of zinc, a nutrient your body needs. Make sure you know where they come from, and that they’re cooked properly.
Medical treatment, tablets and injections, work by improving blood flow to the penis during arousal. They’re generally taken 30-60 minutes before sexual activity and should not be used more than once a day. One might get a stronger erection from injecting medication directly into your penis.
That’s because these drugs widen your blood vessels so your penis fills with blood. Another option is a medicated pellet you put into the opening at the end of your penis. The pellet can trigger an erection within 10 minutes. Commonly used drugs are sildenafil (Viagra), tadalafil (Cialis), alprostadil (Carverject) — which is available as an injection or as a suppository.
Testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) injections may be given if one has a deficiency of testosterone.
You may also want to consider vascular surgery (to improve blood flow in the penis) or penile implant surgery. If erectile dysfunction comes from a blocked artery leading to the penis, surgery can restore blood flow. The procedure usually works best on men under 30. Doctors don’t recommend it for older men with widespread narrowing of the arteries.
If you have long-term erectile dysfunction, a penile implant could help you have sex again. An inflatable implant uses two cylinders you can pump full of pressurised fluid.
A malleable implant uses rods that let you adjust the position of your penis.
Penis pumps are another option if you’re looking for non-invasive, non-drug treatments. They may be most effective if you have moderate erectile dysfunction. Vacuum devices for erectile dysfunction, also called pumps, offer an alternative to medication. You’ll place your penis inside a cylinder and use a pump to draw the air out. This creates a partial vacuum around your penis, which causes it to fill with blood and leads to an erection. You’ll wear an elastic band around the base of your penis to keep the erection while you have sex.
Talk with your doctor before trying supplements for erectile dysfunction. They can contain 10 or more ingredients and could make other health conditions worse. Some men say alternative treatments help them get and keep an erection. Unfortunately, the long-term safety of these products isn’t known, so most doctors don’t recommend them. These pills often contain prescription drugs not listed on the label, including the active ingredient in sildenafil (Viagra). This can cause problems if the medication interacts with something else you take.