Male Erectile Disorder

What is Male Erectile Disorder?

While many may think they know about male erectile disorder based on what has been seen in the media in recent years, the condition is far more complex than assumptions presume. For instance, there isn’t any one cause, just as there are a number of treatments available to give sufferers relief from the condition.

Simply put, male erectile disorder is an inability for a male to experience an erection and/or maintain a full erection long enough to engage in sexual intercourse.

For most males, the occasional incident of impotence is normal and usually doesn’t indicate anything out of the ordinary. However, when a male experiences frequent or ongoing difficulties in maintaining an erection, it can create a stressful situation, affect one’s self-esteem, and even lead to the breakdown of romantic relationships. Additionally, a long-term inability to obtain an erection may indicate other physical problems or the onset of health hazards. Oftentimes, the treatment of one of these underlying conditions will also cure the problems of erectile dysfunction.

Symptoms of Male Erectile Disorder

The two most obvious symptoms of male erectile disorder are the inability to achieve an erection and trouble maintaining an erection throughout the sexual encounter. The subject may also experience a lack of sexual desire. Some patients reported experiencing premature or delayed ejaculation as well.

It’s recommended that a male should seek out the advice of a doctor in cases where other physical symptoms have been observed in addition to poor sexual performance.

Causes of Male Erectile Disorder

A deeper look at the causes of male erectile disorder reveals that underlying physical conditions are often to blame, even though the patient may not have observed any other problems. However, this makes sense, considering the vast biological processes that occur whenever a male achieves sexual arousal. A number of different systems are affected by arousal from activating the pleasure center of the brain to stimulating hormonal activity and emotional responses. Even nerves, muscles, and blood vessels all become a part of the process. The sudden onset of erectile dysfunction can indicate a problem in any one of these areas.

Additionally, stress or seemingly unrelated mental conditions, such as depression or anxiety, can also create erection difficulties.

When a condition slows sexual response, the male may suddenly worry about his ability to perform and that added stress can create a problem achieving an erection. In effect, worrying about the erectile disorder can actually worsen the condition.

Physical conditions that may create or exacerbate an erectile disorder:

  • Cardiovascular Disease (heart disease)
  • Clogged blood vessels
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Metabolic syndrome (A condition which results in higher blood pressure levels, increased insulin, weight gain, and higher cholesterol)
  • Parkinson’s
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Prescription drugs
  • Tobacco use
  • Peyronie’s disease (scarring around the male reproductive organ)
  • Alcoholism and drug abuse
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Medications for prostate conditions
  • Pelvic and spinal cord repair procedures

Mental conditions that may create or exacerbate an erectile disorder:

  • As mentioned previously, any mental illness can affect sexual performance, but depression and anxiety have commonly instigated cases of male erectile disorder.
  • Additionally, stress can inhibit male sexual performance, even when the catalyst for that stress is not related to the patient’s sexuality.

Treatments for Male Erectile Disorder

When male erectile disorder becomes serious enough to seek treatment, the first thing one’s doctor will do is to eliminate physical causes. This will include ensuring that the patient is taking the appropriate medication in the correct dosages for whatever physical conditions he may have in addition to erectile dysfunction.

While once there were only one or two options for medication, erectile dysfunction can now be treated with a number of oral medications.

Oral medications may include:

  • Sildenafil (Viagra)
  • Tadalafil (Adcirca, Cialis)
  • Vardenafil
  • Avanafil

These drugs all operate in the same way, enhancing the production of nitric oxide in the blood. The male body uses nitric oxide to relax the muscles of the penis, allowing for greater blood flow into the organ, which, in turn, causes the penis to become fully erect.

It should be noted that taking one of these drugs will not cause an erection to instantly occur. As mentioned previously, there is an entire multi-system process that begins with sexual arousal and leads up to achieving an erection, so a sexual stimulus is still needed. Also, these medications do not act as aphrodisiacs, so, if the male has a loss of sexual interest, that problem will have to be dealt with separately and prior to taking erectile dysfunction treatments.

The medicine in itself may result in unwanted side effects, including headaches, heat flashes, congestion, impaired eyesight, body aches, or an upset stomach.

Natural treatments for male erectile disorder

If dumping chemicals isn’t appealing for the treatment of erectile dysfunction, some men might prefer to seek out other remedies. As research has advanced on the causes of erectile dysfunction, so has the discovery of treatments and there are natural and homeopathic options available for those interested in trying them as a first option.

Here are six alternative options to correcting erectile disorder:

Panax Ginseng

This remedy is powerful enough that it has been called the “natural Viagra” and the research backs up those homeopathic claims. Studies found “suggestive evidence” that Panax Ginseng, a.k.a. red ginseng, is effective in the treatment of male erectile dysfunction.

While short term use is safe, prolonged usage of Panax Ginseng for 6 months or more may produce negative side effects, including an over stimulation of hormones and insomnia.

Recommended dosage: 600 to 1,000 milligrams (mg) three times per day.

Rhodiola rosea

This one is questionable in that there hasn’t been any serious scientific research done on its effectiveness. The most promising study enlisted a group of 35 men suffering from erectile disorder. Out of that group, 26 men were given 150 to 200 mg of Rhodiola rosea per day over a three month period. The men reported “substantially improved” sexual performance, as well as an increase of energy and decreased instances of fatigue.

Recommended dosage: 150 to 200 milligrams per day.

DHEA (Dehydroepiandrosterone)

DHEA is a natural hormone produced in the human body’s own adrenal glands, which can be converted to either estrogen or testosterone. Wild yam and soy are used to produce DHEA and manufacture it as a dietary supplement. DHEA assists with male erectile dysfunction.

A Massachusetts study discovered that men experiencing erectile dysfunction had very low levels of DHEA.

In 2009, a second study on male aging used a group of 40 men to further study the effects of Dehydroepiandrosterone on male erectile disorder. Half of the men were given 50 mg of DHEA per day, while the other half of the group were given one placebo each day. The group taking DHEA were more likely to achieve and maintain an erection.

DHEA has been found to be especially effective with erectile dysfunction sufferers who also have diabetes.

Recommended dosage: 50 milligrams per day.


L-arginine for male erectile dysfunction is another product of the human body; an enzyme that produces nitric oxide. As previously discussed, nitric oxide is necessary for achieving and maintaining an erection. By enhancing nitric oxide production, L-arginine boosts the blood flow necessary to achieve erections and stimulate sexual arousal.

Researchers conducted a study in which male erectile disorder patients were given a daily dose of 5 grams of L-arginine. By the end of the study, they found that 31% of the men taking L-arginine had experienced a significant improvement in sexual performance.

In a separate study, the L-arginine was combined with Pycnogenol, a natural component of tree bark. 80% of men participating in this study experienced vastly improved sexual ability within two months. Continuing the study for an additional month brought that success rate up to 92% of the men.


Deviating from medications and vitamin supplements, acupuncture for male erectile dysfunction attempts to resolve the stress and anxiety of the body. Frequent studies have produced mixed results, but, overall, acupuncture has had a positive effect on men with erectile dysfunction.

In 1999, one study found that acupuncture produced increased erectile performance and an enhanced sexual libido in 39% of men.

When conducted by a licensed acupuncturist, this type of treatment may eliminate erectile disorder in men without a risk of harm to the patient. Additionally, acupuncture sessions may reduce stress, encourage a higher quality of stress, and relieve chronic aches and pains.


Extracted from the African Yohimbe tree, this treatment has been shown to maximize sexual performance in men.

The American Urological Association cautions against using Yohimbe, as there have been very few studies on the effectiveness of this treatment. Also, Yohimbe extract has been linked to a spike in blood pressure and heart rate, as well as increased irritability and tremors.

Other natural remedies

There are other natural treatments for male erectile disorder available, though many lack the research to promise positive effects. Some internet research and persistence may uncover more natural remedies than those mentioned in this article. Among the additional treatment options, there are natural remedies for male erectile dysfunction with strongest support for positive effects.

Natural remedies for erectile dysfunction include:

  • Zinc supplements (Men low in zinc may want to try this first)
  • Ashwagandha (Indian ginseng)
  • Ginkgo Biloba

One reminder in regards to natural remedies: The Food and Drug Administration doesn’t regulate the manufacturing or distribution of herbs. It’s recommended that those interested in going with this course of treatment thoroughly research herbal distributors, prior to buying products.

While male erectile disorder may be a source of embarrassment, it’s important to seek out medical advice before administering any treatment, natural or otherwise. The safest and wisest course is to pursue preventative measures including a healthier diet and meditation coupled with frequent exercise. Eliminating stress from one’s life should be the first goal in addressing erectile dysfunction and sexual performance, followed by a consultation with a doctor.

Whatever course of treatment men with erectile disorder choose, there is help. This condition is neither life threatening in itself, nor is it a permanent situation.

Prevention of Male Erectile Disorder

When there is an underlying condition causing male erectile disorder, there isn’t much that could have been done to prevent the onset of the condition. However, limiting one’s susceptibility to common health problems will also go a long way toward preventing erectile dysfunction.

Here’s what concerned males can do:

Lose weight

Being overweight can put extra stress on the circulatory system, which has direct bearing on the ability to achieve an erection.

Quit smoking

Smoking slows down blood flow. Like obesity, tobacco smoking diminishes the ability of the body to circulate blood, creating cardiovascular problems, as well as affecting the body’s ability to achieve an erection.

Limit alcohol intake

More than two drinks per day can also cause male erectile disorder.

Eat healthily

This includes keeping an eye on blood pressure and cholesterol levels.


As little as 30 minutes per day can enhance blood flow and make achieving and maintaining erections that much easier.


At least 7 hours per night is recommended to maintain good health and to keep the body functioning properly.

Last Reviewed:
September 18, 2017
Last Updated:
September 18, 2017
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