Tackling erectile dysfunction is not easy. Despite ED, or impotence, being a very common condition, thought to affect half of all men between the ages of 40 and 70, there’s still a stigma that surrounds it. Men who do have trouble getting an erection can be made to feel unmanly and emasculated – in turn, that can make them reluctant to seek medical help for their condition.
It’s unsurprising, then, that so many men try to self-treat the problem of erectile dysfunction by buying over-the-counter supplements and natural remedies, or chancing to the darkest corners of the internet for illegally obtained ED medicines and “testosterone boosters”.
What are testosterone boosters?
Testosterone boosters are supplements containing substances purported to increase levels of the male hormone testosterone. These boosters are often used by male body-builders and men suffering from ED or low libido. The problem is: there have been no definitive studies proving the efficacy of these supplements, and none of them are endorsed by medical bodies such as the National Health Service.
Popular testosterone boosters that you may see on health store shelves or read about on the internet include D-aspartic acid (D-AA), tribulus terrestris, fenugreek, ecdysterone and ZMA. In each case, you will find it hard to locate reliable scientific evidence proving that these substances work as testosterone boosters.
In fact, it has been found that almost 15% of 600 body-building or testosterone boosting supplements examined contained illegal anabolic steroids not declared on the label. While steroids might account for weight gain and improved muscle mass, they can actually cause erectile dysfunction, shrunken testicles and even infertility.
What does testosterone do?
Testosterone is a hormone produced in the testicles that plays a significant role in male sexual development. It also helps to maintain:
- Bone density
- Muscle mass
- Fat distribution
- The production of red blood cells
- Sex drive
- Sperm production
As men get older, their testosterone levels naturally go into gradual decline, which can cause some symptoms. One of the signs of lowered testosterone is reduced sex drive and sexual function.
Testosterone & sexual function
While it’s certainly true that testosterone is tied to your libido, it’s a popular misconception that male virility is totally dependent upon testosterone. In fact, the ability to enjoy sex is tied up with multiple factors.
For this reason, it is incorrect to assume that merely boosting your testosterone levels will guarantee an improved sex life. In fact, testosterone therapy (prescribed to men suffering from hypogonadism, where there are abnormally low levels of testosterone in the body) can actually lead to testicular shrinkage, changes in sexual function and – in rare cases – infertility.
Other symptoms of low testosterone
One thing to bear in mind is that lowering levels of testosterone can cause certain symptoms which can indirectly contribute to erectile dysfunction. These include:
- Mood swings
- Weight gain
- Loss of energy
- Difficulty sleeping
Mood swings can create stress and anxiety around sex, while weight gain can lead to the development of diabetes or cardiovascular disease (two common causes of ED). Difficulty sleeping and loss of energy are also likely to have a negative impact upon sex drive.
The good news is that these types of symptoms can often be managed by simply making lifestyle changes such as those listed below.
Exercising regularly improves your mood, allows you to sleep better and helps you to stay fit and in a healthy weight range. This in turn can boost self-esteem, which plays a big part in sex drive and confidence in the bedroom.
Like exercise, a healthy diet has multiple benefits. However, the main advantage of eating well is that it can help you to lose weight and keep fit and healthy. Avoiding unhealthy foods will help you avoid high cholesterol, which can lead to the narrowing of the arteries and contribute to erectile dysfunction by blocking blood flow to the penis.
If you find it hard to relax and sleep at night, you can try relaxation techniques such as meditation and yoga.
Quitting smoking has many advantages, including improving your sexual function. Smoking can cause high cholesterol and can damage the blood vessels, making it harder for you to get an erection.
Alternative treatments to testosterone boosters
If you’re concerned your testosterone levels might be low, your local GP can test this with a simple blood test.
If you want to improve your erectile dysfunction, you could consider getting a prescription for a PDE-5 inhibitor such as Viagra. PDE-5 inhibitors are tablets that temporarily increase blood flow to the penis, allowing for a firm, long-lasting erection. Along with Viagra, other popular PDE-5 inhibitors include Cialis, Spedra and Sildenafil.
You can find out more about ED tablets by visiting the Online Doctor Erectile Dysfunction Clinic.