Erectile dysfunction (ED, or impotency) is often an early warning sign of circulatory problems. Achieving and maintaining an erection is a complex process, but ultimately it all comes down to having adequate blood flow in the area.
Sexual excitement triggers a slight increase in blood pressure and sends a message through the nervous system to channel blood into the three main arteries of the penis. Blood then begins to fill the sponge-like cylinders. As pressure increases, the small fragile veins that drain blood from the penis are collapsed. With no way of escape, the incoming blood supply forces the penis to expand, harden, and stand erect.
One of the most common suggestions for treating impotency is L-arginine, 4 to 8 grams daily. In your bloodstream the amino acid releases nitric oxide, a compound that relaxes the muscles in blood vessel walls and improves circulation. (The popular drugs Viagra, Levitra, and Cialis do their trick by enhancing the effect of nitric oxide.) I’ve recommended L-arginine in the past as a treatment for ED, and I still do. It’s important to recognize, however, that this supplement is just a temporary fix. To really get rid of the problem, you’ve got to improve your circulation overall.
One of the most reliable ways to improve circulation in the relevant area is by walking. Simply moving the muscles in the central area of your body increases the demand for oxygen, which results in the opening up of circulation. Studies have found that ED is worse in men who spend most of their days in sitting positions (taxi and bus drivers are at higher risk) or work in high-stress situations.
(As an aside, stronger muscles in the back and buttocks can also help maintain an erection by preventing a situation called “pelvic steal,” in which blood rushes to muscles in the buttocks and legs during intercourse. In effect, these muscles “steal” the blood from the penis—causing it to go flaccid. A quick solution is to have intercourse with the woman positioned on top of the man. As you restore your circulation in the area the problem will eventually disappear.)
A good nutritional support program will also help improve your circulation. Be sure your daily routine includes:
- At least 2 grams of EFAs (such as those found in flax and fish);
- 1,000 to 1,500 mg of niacin;
- 800 to 1,200 IU of vitamin E; and
- 15 mg of zinc.