As the old saying goes, If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy. The same thing could be said of Daddy—especially if Mama ain’t getting any. While my practice is focused on women, I know that my patients’ partners’ health is a critical component of intimacy and satisfaction. And one reason Mama may not be happy is Daddy’s erectile dysfunction (ED).
Erectile dysfunction can happen at any age, but it often becomes more consistent and problematic as a man grows older—just like the changes we’re experiencing with menopause. If your man is having trouble maintaining an erection, you might consider lovingly addressing the issue head-on. After all, both of you are going through changes that impact intimacy. So working together to keep the flame alive is in your collective best interest. And denial will definitely not make the problem go away.
Lots of interventions exist for ED, from surgery to the well-known pharmaceutical options, but as you may know, I’m a big fan of laying a solid foundation of good health habits before leaping on the pharma train.
The big advantage of good health habits, of course, is that they address a host of issues, from cardiovascular health to weight maintenance, which are critical to good sexual function but also to overall well-being.
So, in the interest of a vigorous sex life for both of you, here’s my short list of natural cures for ED.
- Exercise. According to Zachary Mucher, MD, a urologist in Sugar Land, Texas, of all the interventions for ED, “Exercise works on several fronts to combat the development of ED and help reverse it once it has become a problem,” says Dr. Mucher in this article. Moderate daily exercise improves cardiovascular health, keeps weight in check, and it can help medication for ED work more effectively. It releases nitric oxide in the blood, which is how Viagra works, and it improves testosterone levels. Darned good bang for the buck, I’d say.
- Do kegels. Yes, you read this right. What’s good for the goose, and all that. A toned pelvic floor in men strengthens the bulbocavernosus muscle, which is associated with sexual performance. Just think, you and your man could warm up for your daily two-mile walk with a couple sets of kegels. Squeeze and hold the muscles that stop the stream of urine for 5 seconds at least 10 times. That’s a set, and that’s also togetherness.
- Healthy diet. You know the drill: lots of fruits and veggies; whole grains; less red meat and more fish; way less sugar and fat. Maintaining a healthy weight is another critical element of sexual function. Obesity is a well-known contributor to ED and also a predictor of less sex. In one oft-cited study, men with 32-inch waists were half as likely to have ED as those with 42-inch waistlines. (I’m thinking they were also younger.)
- Stop smoking and drinking. These habits are strongly linked to ED. Smoking compromises the cardiovascular system and drinking suppresses neurological function. Both need to be in optimal order for good sexual function.
- Natural supplements. Any health food store will carry a dizzying array of treatments for ED. Before straying too far down this path (some herbal supplements come with their own side effects and drug interactions), let me suggest some safe and easy “natural” supplements that have some basis in science.
- Stronvivo Nutritional Supplement is essentially vitamins for cardiovascular health, because, as I said, cardiovascular health is linked to sexual performance for both men and women. I like the reports I’ve read from clinical evaluations, which showed improvements after 90 days of Stronvivo use.
- Vitamin B12. Deficiency in this vitamin is linked to ED. Take a supplement and eat foods rich in B12, such as fish and red meat. (Here’s your excuse for a steak.)
- Watermelon juice. Dubbed “nature’s Viagra,” watermelon is high in citrulline, which improves blood flow to the penis. This is an easy, healthy way to ingest some vitamin C along with a good dose of sex supplement.
- Red ginseng. A type of ginseng root that is steamed and dried. Several studies suggest that ginseng helps with ED. It is also safe.
Did you notice that every one of these interventions for erectile dysfunction are good for both of you? In fact, this regimen could be considered a powerful and fundamental aphrodisiac for everyone. So, rather than harping on him to exercise or stop smoking, you can lead by example.
Dr. Barb DePree, M.D., has been a gynecologist and women’s health provider for almost 30 years and a menopause care specialist for the past ten.