Penile erection involves a complicated relationship between halves of your autonomic nervous system (the sympathetic and the parasympathetic nervous systems), your circulatory system and your emotions. Electrical impulses from the brain, when stimulated, cause the nerves in the penis to release nitric oxide. This, in turn, increases the production of guanylate MonoPhosphate (cGMP) in the muscle cells of the corpora cavernosa (penis tissue, that consists of smooth muscles, spaces, fibrous tissues, arteries and veins). The cGMP triggers the muscles of the corpora cavernosa to relax and fill with blood, which causes the penis to expand. At any time, any of these can malfunction and bring about erectile dysfunction.
Symptoms include: a less firm penis, fewer erections and fewer spontaneous night time erections.
Men who are age 65 and older are more likely to develop erectile dysfunction than men younger than 65. Erectile dysfunction should not be considered a natural or acceptable part of getting older.
Smoking increases the risk of erectile dysfunction by around 50% for men in their 30s and 40s.
High cholesterol levels.
Medications used to treat high blood pressure are also important risk factors.
Trauma, whether through an accident or surgery, can increase your risk of erectile dysfunction.
Anabolic steroid use.
Natural Therapies for Erectile Dysfunction
L-arginine an amino acid is contained in foods like dairy products, meat, fish and poultry. L-arginine is used by the body to make nitric oxide, which relaxes the blood vessels and helps the penis maintain an erection. L-arginine has been shown to be safe in doses of 2-3 grams per day. Excessive doses can cause heartburn due to the amino acid's stimulation of the body's production of gastrin. L-arginine is not recommended for people with ulcers or people suffering from liver disease.
There is a limited amount of research, which suggests that gingko may be useful for erectile dysfunction, due to its ability to stimulate blood flow to the penis. In one study of 60 men with impotence due to poor blood circulation demonstrated a 50% success rate after 6 months. Gingko should not be used by anyone taking blood-thinning agents.
Though traditionally used to treat problems with enlarged prostate glands, Saw Palmetto can aid erectile dysfunction. It works by stimulating a low libido and increasing sexual energy.
Sarsaparilla has a history of being used as a tonic for male sexual potency and is thought to assist in the production of testosterone.
The essential oils used in aromatherapy create soothing aromas that relax the body and may help to create the right mood. Some evidence shows aromatherapy may actually increase blood flow to the penis, though no specific oil has been proven to affect all men.
Men whose erectile dysfunction has psychological foundations may be helped by acupuncture, which in traditional terms releases and rebalances the qi, or life force, by placing needles at specific "meridians" of the body. Medically the mechanism isn't fully understood, but acupuncture has been shown to release various nerve chemicals.