Men seeking help for erectile dysfunction are bombarded with everything from advertisements for drugs that fight erectile dysfunction to promising men improvement through supplements. The most recent: a “Viagra condom”, which contains a special gel intended to help men maintain an erection while wearing protection. Called the CSD500, the product, from a UK biotech company, is still in development and not yet ready for prime time.
Such breakthroughs are reminiscent of the myriad of alternative products – some legitimate, some not – that men try to use before taking traditional erectile dysfunction drugs or having erectile dysfunction surgery. So how do you discern the truth from the hype regarding non-medical treatments for erectile dysfunction? We asked experts to comment on what works and what is a waste.
Male enhancement products: too good to be true?
The market is full of products that promise amazing results, guaranteed to give you an erect penis. But if a claim sounds too good to be true, it probably is, warns naturopathic doctor Dean Neary, ND, chair of physical medicine at Bastyr University, a university of natural medicine in Seattle.
“You have all of these products that seem to not only make your erections work, but make them bigger,” says Dr. Neary. “Making it bigger is forbidden – you only have limited tissue. There may be hope in repairing a weak erection by stimulating blood flow, but the tissue is not going to magically grow an inch.
Alternative erectile dysfunction treatments that may work
Neary prefers to treat erectile dysfunction in the context of a man’s overall health.
“My approach is generally more holistic. I’m looking to lose weight and increase exercise, which can increase testosterone levels, ”says Neary. He warns that if you try to self-cure with alternative treatments, you might miss an opportunity to learn about a more serious health problem, such as heart disease, that could be causing your dysfunction. erectile.
Related: 10 Healthy Ways To Deal With Erectile Dysfunction
Here are some of the alternative approaches you could try with the help of a qualified healthcare practitioner:
- L-arginine. “Probably the only thing I’ve seen results with is a high dose of extended-release L-arginine, which works like Viagra and Cialis,” says Neary. L-arginine is an amino acid that stimulates nitric oxide, part of the chemical chain reaction that causes blood to pump into the penis during an erection.
- Acupuncture. This alternative treatment, consisting of placing thin needles in the skin in strategic places, has been practiced for thousands of years in China. There are several sites on the body that practitioners believe can be stimulated to help relieve erectile dysfunction.
- Exercise. Being more physically active can help erectile dysfunction in several ways, including improving heart function and increasing testosterone levels.
- Ginkgo biloba. Besides its supposed use as a memory aid, this herb is believed to improve sexual function.
- Ginseng. Ginseng is often recommended as an herbal treatment for erectile dysfunction. According to a recent scientific review of the results of seven clinical trials of red ginseng for the treatment of erectile dysfunction, the herb may be better than a placebo.
- Iodine supplements. If you’re low on iodine, you and your erection might benefit from iodine supplements, says Neary. There is a simple test your doctor can order to help you determine if you are low on iodine.
- Food supplements. In addition to eating a balanced and varied diet that is low in fat, you may want to take supplements to make sure you are getting all of your vitamins and minerals. Vitamins A, B, and E are especially helpful, as are omega-3 fatty acids.
- Homeopathy. Homeopathy is a form of treatment that takes a holistic approach to health issues while stimulating the immune system to fight the causes of specific conditions, such as erectile dysfunction. Although homeopathy claims to offer over 200 possible remedies for erectile dysfunction, the effectiveness of these treatments has not been confirmed by clinical studies.
- Traditional Chinese Medicine. This holistic treatment approach involves changing a man’s environment as well as identifying herbs that can treat erectile dysfunction and may be particularly effective in combination with acupuncture.
- Yohimbine. An extract of the bark of Corynanthe Yohimbe tree found in Africa, this herbal remedy for erectile dysfunction is said to be effective. But also has strong side effects and a lot of people don’t like how they feel when they take it, Neary notes.
Related: Should You Get a Penis Implanted?
Open up on erectile dysfunction
Open communication is the key to success in the treatment of erectile dysfunction. Neary says most of his time with ED patients is spent educating them and their partners about how the penis works and how the ability to have erections relates to their overall health. This naturally leads to a discussion of what can be done to improve the situation.
If you want to try alternative treatments, always make sure to keep your urologist and primary care provider informed so that there is no conflict with any medications you are taking. Likewise, your alternative medicine practitioner should know which traditional medicines have been prescribed for you.