As alternative treatments for everything from high cholesterol to depression to high blood pressure become more popular, many are wondering if a natural approach to treating erectile dysfunction is a better option that conventional medications.
But unfortunately there is no way to answer that question. Treating ED is not as simple as you might think. That’s because there can be a number of different causes for erectile issues, including underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, side effects of medication or even psychological problems stemming from issues between a man and his partner.
These different causes mean that not every form of treatment will work in every case and that’s why there are new treatments being tried all the time.
In order to treat ED at its core, by addressing the actual physiology of the penis itself, the medical establishment turned to a class of drugs called PDE5 inhibitors.
These drugs, sold under the brand names Viagra, Cialis and Levitra, work by blocking an enzyme called PDE5 which breaks down chemicals that produce erections. In this way, they allow the blood flow to the penis to last longer, allowing the penis to remain erect long enough for sexual intercourse.
On the surface, these drugs have represented a real
breakthrough in the treatment of ED.
When taken before engaging in sexual intercourse they do allow most men
to achieve and maintain an erection.
They differ from each other slightly in terms of how far in advance of
intercourse you need to take them.
Levitra generally starts working within a half-hour and Viagra within an
hour, which can make timing tricky and take some of the spontaneity out of your
Unlike the other two, which must be taken on an ‘as needed’ basis, just before you plan to have sex, Cialis contains a lower dose of PDE5 inhibitors and thus is designed to be used on a daily basis. It will also remain effective far longer, up to as long as 24 to 36 hours. This makes it a more attractive alternative as it gives you a much wider window of opportunity.
So the benefits of prescription medications are...
1. They are very effective in many cases. Together these three medications have helped millions of people with impotence.
2. They are quick-acting. They don't need to build up in your system like some medications and natural supplements. So you can rest assured that you will be ready when the time comes.
3. They are well-researched. Because these drugs are such huge sellers, there is a lot of research behind them, and doctors are well aware of who is and who is not a good candidate for these medications. This helps minimize adverse reactions.
Unfortunately, all three medications are known to have some side effects. The most common is headaches, but some men have also reported minor visual problems, most notably a bluish tinge.
A much more serious issue is the fact that, because they increase blood flow, these medications can be very dangerous for men with heart problems, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
There is also a risk of priapism, an erection that lasts much longer than it should, often hours after intercourse.
Costs are another issue. Viagra can cost up to $40 per pill, which can really add up over time. This has a lot of people looking for cheaper alternatives, which can be ineffective or dangerous if it's not from a reputable source.
So the drawbacks of prescription medications are...
1. There are a lot of potential side effects, many of which can be quite serious. That's why it's crucial that you consult with your doctor before taking any ED medications.
2. Impotence medications are quite expensive. If you're spending $40 every time you have intercourse, think about how much you are spending over the course of a few months or a year.
3. There are a lot of fake pills out there. When searching for cheaper sources for prescription meds or generic versions to save a little money, you could end up with a fake pill. If it's a placebo that's not the end of the world, but it could contain other ingredients that cause you harm.
As the worries about safety increase with these traditional medications, more and more men are turning to natural alternatives, including supplements.
There are several natural substances that have been proven to help treat ED, including Ginseng, DHEA, tribulus, Horny Goat Weed, Zinc and Vitamin E, and Yohimbe. All of these substances have been tried with varying levels of success.
DHEA is a naturally produced steroid hormone that is particularly effective in cases where low levels of testosterone are an issue.
Ginseng and Horny Goat Weed are herbs that have both been used in ancient Chinese medicine and are known to have the ability to treat impotence.
Zinc and Vitamin E are two of several dietary supplements that have been linked to treating ED.
Yohimbe is a bark from an African tree and its primary component has been shown to help treat sexual dysfunction caused by drugs used to treat depression.
So the benefits of natural treatments are...
1. You can avoid the potential side effects of prescription medications. Yet keep in mind there are some potential adverse reactions with some natural supplements as well.
2. You can save some money. For the most part, natural impotence treatments are available for a fraction of the cost of prescription medications like Viagra...you can often get a full month's supply for the cost of one pill.
3. Most are beneficial to your health. Unlike conventional drugs that offer zero ancillary benefits, vitamins, minerals and herbal supplements are quite beneficial to other body systems as well.
There are also some potential drawbacks of natural treatments...
Like most steroids, DHEA can have certain side effects including acne.
On the down side, Ginseng is also known to lower blood sugar levels, making it particularly dangerous for diabetics. Horny Goat Weed, on the other hand, works very similarly to Viagra but at a much lower level of effectiveness so it can be hard to determine a proper dosage.
While there are no serious side effects to taking vitamins, there is also no concrete proof that they will have a positive effect. Zinc can have very serious side effects if you take too large a dose, as it will affect your immune system.
While Yohimbe seems promising, it has also been linked to a number of serious side effects including increased blood pressure, fast or irregular heartbeat and anxiety.
So the drawbacks of natural treatments are...
1. They may not work as well as their conventional counterparts. Some natural treatments can be quite effective for one individual, and do absolutely nothing for another.
2. They typically need to build up in your system. Although they can be effective, many take some time to work. They are not an on-demand solution like drugs are.
3. There isn't much research. Although there is plenty of anecdotal evidence of their efficacy, because there are no drug companies behind them there isn't a ton of research on any of the natural treatments. As such, most doctors really don't know much about them, so it's hard for them to make a recommendation. It's much easier for them to recommend a medication.
As you can see, there are pros and cons to both traditional and natural treatments for ED. Both can be effective, depending on the cause of your erectile dysfunction, and both can have some side effects, particularly as relates to cardiac function and diabetes.
As with any medical condition, if you are suffering from ED it is always recommended that you see your doctor before beginning treatment. Your doctor will be able to advise you about the best choice depending on your individual case and any underlying cause for the ED, so it is always the safest place to start.