Erectile Dysfunction (often more discretely referred to as ED) is a vexing problem for many men and can be a result of issues both internal and external as well as physical and mental. Many men (like you) have come online to search for a magic cure to their ails. Well, fortunately you have landed here, where we promise to give you the truth about how to treat ED (and not try to sell you any pill).

Why Do I have ED?

If you are having trouble sustaining an erection, you are not alone. It is estimated that 30 million men suffer from ED and that almost every man experiences it at least once in their life. WebMD states that it is nothing to worry about if it happens less than 20% of the time, but if it creeps up to more than 50% you may need some form of treatment.

There are a variety of factors that can lead to ED. First, let’s look at some of the physical.

Obesity: Men who are overweight are more likely to have ED because of blood flow problems and lower testosterone. Kevin Billups, M.D. in an article for CNN about erectile dysfunction instructs men to get naked, stand up and look down. “If you can’t see your penis, that’s a problem.”

Diabetes: ED can be a sign of diabetes because high levels of glucose can damage blood vessels, restricting its flow. 

Smoking: Cigarette smoking is associated with plaque build up in the arteries, which can prevent blood flow to the penis. A Chinese study found men who smoked 20 cigarettes daily had a 60% higher chance of ED.

Alcohol: Although it may get you “in the mood,” alcohol is also a depressant that can lead to failure to perform in bed. 

And now some of the mental:

Stress: Worry about job, home, or other life’s problems can hinder your ability to relax or focus.

Performance Anxiety: Fear of not being good enough, or perhaps even fear of not being able to get it up can paradoxically cause more problems, leading to the dreaded “impotence domino effect.”

Depression: If you’re down, you’re down – studies show up to 47 percent of people with depression have problems with their sex life, and 40 percent of those on an antidepressant medication have issues as well.

Boredom: This is one of the most common causes of ED. Making love to the same person, which should be a wonderful thing, often gets routine. After all, an erection starts in the brain. 

Generally speaking, if you are able to still get an erection during masturbation or have “morning wood,” your problem is likely psychological. If it develops gradually over time, it may be more physical. If it happens abruptly, especially if you are a young man, it may have components of both. 

What can I do about my ED?

There are a variety of remedies for erectile dysfunction, depending upon its cause. The most obvious remedies for physical problems are to lose weight and quit smoking. Take a yoga class to stretch and relax and learn to mediate.

Stepping up from that, if you are in a relationship and the “spark” seems to be gone, talk to your partner about your sex life. This can be awkward – a poll on Today found 34% talked about sex, but rarely, 14% treaded lightly, and 5% never discussed it at all. 

The important things are to be honest, don’t criticize the other person, and listen. This candid conversation will also bring you closer together. More in-depth advice can be found here

If these lifestyle changes do not work, it’s time to make an appointment with a doctor as ED could be a sign of something more serious.

What about all those herbal supplements they sell online that promise to help get rid of ED?

Avoid them. The vast majority of these companies that claim to be able to cure ED with products they label “herbal Viagra” or with names like Virility X3 have not been tested for safety or effectiveness by the FDA. While certain herbs have been traditionally used for ED for hundreds of years, there is little science to back up their claims.

“…until you have about 20 well-controlled studies over several years, you really don't know what you are working with," said Richard Harris, MD, a urologist at Gottlieb Memorial Hospital in an article about ED for Everyday Health. 

There are a few herbal ingredients that show promise, but with some caveats. For example, there is some evidence 5 grams of L-Arginine helps men achieve erections, but it also can have side effects of nausea, cramps, or diarrhea. Panax ginseng is another potentially beneficial herb, but should only be used on a short-term basis and may have hormone-like effects. And while Yohimbe, made from African tree bark may help ED in people taking SSRI’s, there is insufficient evidence it works better than a placebo for others, and has serious side effects like rapid heartbeat, kidney failure, or seizure.   

If you are interested in some of these types of remedies, first check with your doctor to make sure it won’t interact with medications you are taking, don’t buy any pill that has more than one ingredient, and ONLY buy from companies that carry the US Pharmacopeia (USP) Seal. USP is a non-profit lab that independently verifies that what is listed on the bottle is actually in it.

Finally, a word about Viagra. Since the introduction of the famous blue pill, millions of men have used it safely and successfully. However, you need to remember that this is a prescription drug that needs to be monitored by a doctor. You can’t have low blood pressure or heart conditions and side effects include blurred vision, dizziness, shortness of breath, and headaches.  

Buying Viagra from an online pharmacy is strongly discouraged because you don’t know what you are getting. It could be expired, contaminated, or fake. One review found only 4 percent of Internet pharmacies were in compliance with the law. Besides, relying on these pills for recreation can actually create a dependence on them.

In sum, here’s what we suggest:

  • Start with lifestyle changes
  • Reduce stress in your life
  • Talk to your partner
  • If symptoms persist over 20% of the time, talk to your doctor

We hope this helps ED-ucate you about ED. Let us know what you think below!