Understanding & Treating Erectile Dysfunction

What no guy wants to talk about

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is commonly called impotence. It’s a condition in which a man can’t achieve or maintain an erection during sexual performance. Symptoms may also include reduced sexual desire or libido. Your doctor is likely to diagnose you with ED if the condition lasts for more than a few weeks or months. ED affects as many as 30 million men in the United States.

If you’ve experienced erectile dysfunction (ED), you probably asked yourself two critical questions: “Is ED permanent?” and “Can this problem be fixed?”

It’s a difficult topic to discuss, but ED isn’t uncommon. In fact, it’s the most common sexual problem for men. It affects an estimated 30 million American men, according to the Urology Care Foundation. Making lifestyle changes can help improve your ED, but there are some factors you’ll have to talk to your doctor about.

Learn the causes of ED, also known as impotence, and how you can stop it.

How Erections Happen

When you’re sexually stimulated, nitric oxide signals a chemical called cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP) that causes the smooth muscle to relax, resulting in an inflow of blood into three tube-like cylinders in the penis which then leads to an erection.

With erectile dysfunction, an enzyme named protein phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5) interferes with the nitric oxide and cGMP that relaxes the smooth muscle in the arteries. As a result, the blood can’t move through the arteries and create an erection.

Mental Factors Can Cause Problems

For some people, sex isn’t as enjoyable as it could be. Depression, stress, fatigue, and sleep disorders can contribute to ED by disrupting feelings of sexual excitement in the brain, according to Mayo Clinic. While sex can be a stress reliever, ED can make sex a stressful chore.

Relationship problems can also contribute to ED. Arguments and bad communication can make the bedroom an uncomfortable place. This is why it’s important for couples to communicate openly and honestly with each other.

Bad News About Bad Habits

Now’s the time to finally quit smoking or cut down on your drinking if you’re looking for a treatment for ED. Tobacco use, heavy alcohol consumption, and other substance abuse all tend to constrict blood vessels, reports the National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse. This can lead to or worsen ED.

Time To Lose Some Weight

Obesity is a common factor related to ED. Diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease are also tied to obesity and ED. These conditions pose significant health risks and can affect sexual performance.

Cardiovascular exercises such as swimming, running, and bicycling help shed pounds and increase oxygen and blood flow throughout the body, including your penis. Added bonus: A slimmer, tighter physique might make you feel more confident in the bedroom.

ED As A Side Effect

ED can be caused by several other physical problems besides obesity and obesity-related diseases, including:

  • Atherosclerosis, or clogged blood vessels
  • Low testosterone levels
  • Diabetes
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Metabolic syndrome

Taking certain prescription medications can also lead to ED.

Medical Treatments For Impotence

There are several ways to treat ED besides quitting bad habits and starting good ones. The most common treatment consists of oral medications. Three common medications are sildenafil (Viagra), tadalafil (Cialis), and vardenafil (Levitra).

However, if you’re taking certain other medications or have specific cardiovascular diseases, these medications may not be appropriate for you. Other treatments include:

  • urethral suppository medications
  • testosterone supplement therapy
  • penile pumps, implants, or surgery
Over The Counter Male Enhancement

The most common form of treatment for Erectile Dysfunction is by prescribing medications such as Viagra. However, Viagra can be expensive, and many insurances won’t cover it. Plus, some guys just don’t want to tell the nurse why they’re there to see the doctor.

An option is to visit your local ‘adult store’ (you know, the place that sell’s lingerie and sex toys) to see what they have over the counter. Don’t be afraid to ask. Many guys buy this stuff just to give them more stamina. Buying doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t get it up. For all they know, you might just have a big night ahead of you. Ask the person at the counter if they’ve gotten any feedback about which pills work. Yes, guys really do go back and tell them how well they work, so they can recommend them to other customers.

I would suggest getting a single pill to sample first. If you get results, go back and get a bottle of it. I would also recommend that you not take the whole capsule. I’ve done that and it’s messed with my vision, and given me a bad headache. I’ve actually discovered that I can slide the capsule open and only take about a 1/4 of the contents at a time for good results. These pills may make your face look flushed (red) and warm if you take to much. You’ll have to find the balance that works best for you.

Over time, you’ll discover that these pills will no longer be available, and will be replaced by a pill with a different name.

Case in point is Super Panther 7K. The last pill I had success with was Super Panther 7K distributed by SX Power Co. of Brooklyn, NY. I scooped out a 1/4 of the capsule contents at a time and got great results. But like most pills that ‘work’, it was recalled by the FDA because it was “tainted with undeclared” sildenafil (ingredient in Viagra) and tadalafil (ingredient in Cialis).

The ingredients that were actually listed were:

  • Tribulus Terrestris – 270MG
  • Yohimbe – 200MG
  • L-arginine – 200MG
  • Zinc Oxide – 15MG
  • Vitamin B12 – 10MG
  • Vitamin C – 50MG
  • Vitamin D3 – 10MG
  • Lycopene – 260MG

(For more on what these ingredients do, look for them listed further down this page.)

Taking this pill not only made me rock hard, but my girl could always tell when I took it because I “felt bigger”. If you read above about how erections happen, you know that it’s caused by blood flowing in to (3) tube like cylinders in your penis. This pill would cause so much blood flow, that I could feel that it was stretch and bulging as far as physically possible. Think about it, you’ve seen your penis when it’s limp, and you’ve seen how much bigger it can get erect. If you can bend you’re penis during an erection, it’s not 100% erect, which means it’s not at 100% of it’s potential size. ED pills won’t make you’re penis grow larger, but it will maximize 100% of it, which you may not be doing.

Now obviously, Super Panther 7K was recalled, so I wouldn’t expect to buy it with those “undeclared ingredients”. It’s just an example that you can get over the counter stuff that works.

If you don’t want to go to an ‘adult store’, you may want to see if there’s a health food store nearby. I would recommend a small local store and not a big “chain store”. Some of these smaller local stores have male enhancement pills behind the counter just like the adult stores. In fact, I’ve been purchasing my pills from a small local health food store.

Natural Supplement Options

Other options involve purchasing natural supplements that are typically found in the above mentioned pills you can get from the “adult stores”. The key here though is that you need to incorporate them in to a daily diet. They’re not something you can take 30 minutes before you have sex.

Horny Goat Weed

Horny goat weed has a long history of use in traditional Eastern medicine. According to legend, its name came about because a goat herder noticed his flock became sexually stimulated after eating the plant.

The botanical name for horny goat weed is Epimedium. It’s also called yin yang huo, barrenwort, rowdy lamb herb, randy beef grass, and brain tonic of the immortals. The plant is native to parts of China, Japan, and Korea. Today, it’s widely grown as an ornamental plant in many areas of the world, including the United States.

Horny goat weed is sold over the counter. The active ingredient is icariin, the extract of a Epimedium plant that’s reported to benefit men who have ED. It’s sold as a tablet, capsule, powder, and tea. Icariin inhibits the activity of the PDE5 that’s blocking dilation of the arteries in the penis. This allows blood to fill the arteries and the three cylinders in the penis and create an erection. The prescription medication sildenafil (Viagra) works in much the same way.

Tongkat Ali

Tongkat Ali (TA) is essentially a medicinal herb native to Southeast Asian countries including Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia and Vietnam. The locals call this plant the Malaysian ginseng, whereas scientists refer to it as Eurycoma longifolia.

Tongkat Ali is widely referred to as a “home-grown Viagra” in Malaysia due to its ability to enhance sexual desire. According to a study appearing in the Journal of Tropical Forest Science, this plant contains a class of peptides called “eurypeptides” that improve sex drive. To achieve this goal, eurypeptides restore normal levels of testosterone by increasing the rate of release of “free” testosterone from the sex-hormone-binding-globulin (SHBG). As such, it works differently than say anabolic steroids that boost testosterone levels by enhancing “testosterone synthesis.”

Panax Ginseng

Called the herbal Viagra, Panax ginseng (red ginseng) has solid research behind it. Researchers reviewed seven studies of red ginseng and ED in 2008. Dosages ranged from 600 to 1,000 milligrams (mg) three times daily. They concluded there was “suggestive evidence for the effectiveness of red ginseng in the treatment of erectile dysfunction.”

More current research is examining how red ginseng influences ED. Ginsenosides are one element present in Panax ginseng extract that have action at the cellular level to improve erection.

The action of Panax ginseng appears to be most effective for those with high lipids in their blood and metabolic syndrome. This herb is known to have anti-inflammatory action, improve lung function, and improve blood flow in other diseases — all characteristics that may reduce ED.


This supplement is extracted from the bark of the African yohimbe tree. Some studies have shown positive effects on sexual performance with use of this drug.

However, the American Urological Association doesn’t recommend yohimbe as an ED treatment. This is because there’s not a lot of evidence proving it works. Its side effects might be damaging to health. These include increased blood pressure and heart rate, irritability, and tremor.

If you decide you want to try yohimbe, be sure to talk to your doctor beforehand.


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.

Researchers studied the effects of L-arginine on ED. Thirty-one percent of men with ED taking 5 grams of L-arginine per day experienced significant improvements in sexual function.

A second study showed that L-arginine combined with pycnogenol, a plant product from tree bark, restored sexual ability to 80 percent of participants after two months. Ninety-two percent had restored sexual ability after three months.

Another placebo-controlled study found that L-arginine in combination with other medications was well-tolerated, safe, and effective for mild-to-moderate ED.

Maca Root

The maca plant, known scientifically as Lepidium meyenii, is sometimes referred to as Peruvian ginseng. It mainly grows in the Andes of central Peru, in harsh conditions and at very high altitudes — above 13,000 feet. Maca has been heavily marketed as being effective at improving sexual desire, and this claim is backed by research. A review from 2010 that included four randomized clinical studies with a total of 131 participants found evidence that maca improves sexual desire after at least six weeks of ingestion.

When it comes to male fertility, sperm quality and quantity is very important. There is some evidence that maca root increases men’s fertility. A recent review summarized the findings of five small studies. It showed that maca improved semen quality in both infertile and healthy men. One of the studies reviewed included nine healthy men. After consuming maca for four months, researchers detected an increase in the volume, count and motility of sperm.

Tribulus Terrestris

Tribulus Terrestris is a small leafy plant. It’s also known as puncture vine, Gokshura, caltrop and goat’s head. It grows in many places, including parts of Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Both the root and fruit of the plant have been used medicinally in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Indian Ayurveda medicine. Traditionally, people have used this plant for a variety of potential effects, including to enhance libido, keep the urinary tract healthy and reduce swelling.

Researchers found that Tribulus Terrestris may increase testosterone in some animal studies, but that this result is not usually seen in humans. Although this supplement may not increase testosterone, it may boost libido. Some researchers found that when men with reduced sex drives consumed 750–1,500 mg of Tribulus Terrestris daily for two months, their sexual desire increased by 79%. However, studies in men with erectile dysfunction have yielded mixed results. Some research shows that taking 800 mg of this supplement per day may not effectively treat erectile dysfunction. Other reports showed significant improvements in erections and sexual satisfaction with a dose of 1,500 mg per day.

While it seems that Tribulus Terrestris may improve libido in women and men, more research is needed to clarify the extent of the sexual effects of this supplement.

Lycopene (Lyco-Pene)

Lycopene is a phytonutrient and carotenoid that naturally helps blood vessels relax and increase blood flow to the penis. Processed tomato products are actually a big provider of Lycopene.

Talk to your doctor

If you have symptoms of ED, it’s important to check with your doctor before trying any treatments on your own. This is because ED can be a sign of other health problems. For instance, heart disease or high cholesterol could cause ED symptoms. With a diagnosis, your doctor could recommend a number of steps that would likely improve both your heart health and your ED. These steps include lowering your cholesterol, reducing your weight, or taking medications to unclog your blood vessels.