Unless you’ve been sleeping under a rock somewhere for the last decade or so, you’re probably well aware of the popular medications available to treat erection problems. Advertising for Viagra, Cialis, and other impotence drugs floods the airwaves and the pages of print publication as well.
Available now since the late 1990s, these medications have truly revolutionized the treatment of impotence and are clearly the best solution for men who have been unable to resolve their symptoms in any other way.
Other Options Available
However, for those whose erection problems are perhaps not so deeply entrenched, other treatment options are available and certainly should be considered before you resort to the use of prescription medications.
If you’ve been paying close attention to the advertising messages, you’ve probably learned that blood flow plays a central role in erectile function and that diminished blood flow may eventually result in the inability to get and keep an erection strong enough for intercourse.
If you are experiencing early signs of erection problems, you might want to look at various ways in which you can optimize blood flow to see if such measures don’t reduce your symptoms of impotence to some degree.
A good way to get started is with an honest assessment of your lifestyle choices and how they may or may not be adversely affecting your health in general and your erection health in particular. After reviewing these, we’ll look at some other steps you can take to fight back against erection problems.
Eating a Healthy Diet? If your diet of choice relies heavily on the Golden Arches or some other fast-food dispensary, you can probably do yourself — and your erectile health — a world of good by replacing this high-fat, high-calorie fare with a heart-healthy diet. Cut down on your intake of red meat, which carries high levels of saturated fat, and try to eat more seafood and low-fat poultry. Opt for reduced-fat dairy products in place of whole milk and full-fat cheeses. Substitute olive oil for butter. Steer clear of commercial baked goods, which often have dangerously high levels of trans fats. Eat lots of whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as high-protein legumes, beans, and nuts.
Need to Lose Some Weight? While closely related to the foregoing topic of diet, being obese or significantly overweight can be the result of unhealthy eating over a protracted period of time. But it’s never too late to try to turn things around. If you’re carrying around a lot of excess baggage, it’s time to start shedding those pounds. Don’t look for unrealistically fast ways to undo the damage you’ve done to your waistline over several years. Instead cut back on the total amount you’re eating, and focus on healthy foods, such as those outlined in the previous suggestions on diet. Also, get your doctor’s advice and counsel to lose weight in the healthiest ways possible.
Too Much Time on the Couch? Regular physical activity — appropriate to your age and overall health — can improve both cardiovascular health and erectile function. If you haven’t been exercising much, start slow and seek the advice of your doctor as to how much physical activity he would consider reasonable and attainable for you.
Still Smoking? Men who smoke are twice as likely to develop erection problems as those who don’t, according to WebMD. So if you’re still smoking, stop, and if you’re not a smoker, make sure you keep it that way. For those who have been addicted to nicotine for years, it can be a challenge to end this unhealthy habit, but to do so will pay multiple dividends healthwise. If you need a crutch, consult your doctor to see what he or she recommends in the way of smoking cessation products, either over-the-counter or prescription.
Go Easy on the Alcohol: If you enjoy an occasional glass or two of wine, there’s no reason at all for you to deprive yourself of this pleasure. However, drinking more than just a little can be counterproductive when it comes to getting and keeping an erection. On the other side of the coin, there is evidence from clinical studies that moderate alcohol consumption — as in a glass or two — is good for your cardiovascular health and, by extension, for your erection health.
Feeling Depressed? While the vast majority of erection problems can be attributed to compromised blood flow to the penis, 10 to 20 percent of impotence is believed to be psychological in origin. If you think that emotional issues, persistent feelings of sadness, or extreme anxiety may be playing a part in your erection problems, seek professional help. Counseling and/or medications may be able to resolve these psychological issues and get you back into the game.
Address Underlying Health Issues: Certain chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, atherosclerosis, hypertension, and hormonal imbalances, are closely associated with erection problems. Although you may not be able to find a cure for your condition, with a doctor’s help, you can find ways to manage that underlying health issue in a way that allows you to maintain a relatively normal sex life.
Keep Stress to a Minimum: Twenty-first century life is fraught with stress for most of us. Juggling the demands of the workplace with family responsibilities and driving on congested highways puts you under tremendous psychological stress, triggering your body to release adrenaline, the stress hormone. As adrenaline levels rise, blood vessels constrict, cutting off the strong blood flow that is essential to achieve an erection. Unfortunately, there is no way to eliminate stress from your life, but you can take the time necessary to recover from extreme bouts of stress before indulging in sexual activity. In cases where stress is avoidable, by all means avoid it.
Try a Natural Remedy: Some men have found relief for impotence symptoms from natural remedies, some of which have been used for centuries. WebMD offers an interesting overview of several such remedies, including acupuncture, the amino acid arginine, DHEA, ginkgo biloba, ginseng, horny goat weed, pomegranate juice, and yohimbe. Perhaps one of these might work for you.
Check Out Your Medicine Chest: Because of their mechanism of action, certain medications may cause diminished blood flow or otherwise interfere with normal erectile function. Common culprits among widely prescribed drugs are some blood pressure medications, including diuretics; antidepressants; anti-anxiety drugs; anti-epileptic medications; antihistamines; muscle relaxants; prostate cancer medications; and chemotherapy drugs. If your doctor prescribed such a drug, check to see if there is an alternative option that may be more erection-friendly. Under no circumstances should you take yourself off medication without first consulting your physician.
Don Amerman is a freelance author who writes extensively about a wide array of nutrition and health-related topics.
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