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Male Sexuality & Libido

Healthy sexual function is based on several elements including sexual drive, physical and psychological response to stimulation, and the ability to achieve and maintain an erection for intercourse and to realize a satisfying orgasm. Sexual dysfunction can manifest as lack of libido, premature ejaculation, erectile dysfunction or inability to achieve orgasm. For the approximately 30% of men over age 50 who experience these symptoms, the impact on quality of life, esteem and confidence cannot be denied. Although there are many commonly prescribed drug therapies for erectile dysfunction it is the advice of Zwell to seek to understand the root cause of your issues. Many factors can impact healthy sexual function, both organic and psychological and proper diagnosis and treatment of these root causes can offer lasting results without the unfavourable side effects of many commonly prescribed ED medications on the market today.

Factors to Consider

  • In over 90% of men over 50 years old who experience erectile dysfunction, the cause is discovered to be physiological (1), meaning there is an imbalance in an organ or system of the body. The most common organic reason for ED, impacting 50% of men in this age group is hardening of the penile artery (atherosclerosis), restricting blood flow to the organ. (2)
  • A variety of both over-the-counter and prescription medications can have a negative impact on healthy sexual function. A thorough discussion with your Pharmacist, Medical or Naturopathic Doctor can help uncover any medications or combinations of drugs that are causing imbalance in your body. In many cases, natural alternatives can produce results as effective as drug treatments without unfavourable side-effects.
  • Over-consumption of alcohol has a negative action on the production of the masculinizing hormone Testosterone (3) and can result in hypogonadism. Testosterone is largely responsible for male vigour, vitality, sexual libido, sperm production and nourishment of the male reproductive organs. An estimated 20% of men aged 50+ suffer from abnormally low testosterone levels (4).
  • A variety of endocrine disorders can negatively impact sexual function, the most common of which being Diabetes (5). Diabetes increases the risk of vascular disease (including atherosclerosis) and nerve damage. Hypothyroidism, characterised by a sluggish metabolic rate can also impede sexual desire and performance.
  • Trauma to the male sex organs or pelvic region can damage tissues, vessels and nerves transmitting messages to and from the Central Nervous System, where response to stimulation occurs. Likewise, diseases such as Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (enlarged prostate) and Peyronie’s Disease in the male reproduce organs can be an underlying factor in sexual dysfunction.
  • Emotional well-being is a factor for 10% of men suffering with sexual dysfunction (6). Even when organic causes are involved, attention to mental and emotional well-being can produce favourable outcomes in the re-establishment of healthy sexual function.

Conventional Medical Treatment

 Medical recommendations will vary depending on the underlying factors that lead to sexual dysfunction.
  • Until the recent availability of ED drugs, conventional treatment options were limited to penile injections, vacuum pumps, vascular surgery and implants. Now commonly prescribed medications such as Viagra, Cialis and Levitra provide favourable results in approximately 70% of men who take them however  they do carry the risk of side effects including; headache, sinus congestion, disrupted colour perception, stomach upset and in rare cases, blindness (7).
  • Testosterone therapy may be recommended if blood tests indicate abnormally low levels of this important hormone.
  • Treatment may focus on existing medical conditions such as Atherosclerosis and Diabetes, which can contribute to erectile dysfunction.
  • Where emotional distress is a factor, counselling and lifestyle modifications may be recommended.

Dietary Recommendations

  • Since maintaining a healthy vascular system and balanced blood sugar are critical components to long-term sexual vitality, following the dietary guidelines detailed in the “Heart & Cardiovascular” conditon section, will provide excellent guidelines for sexual health. In summary, these recommendations include whole foods, high-fibre grains, abundant consumption of anti-oxidant rich vegetables and fruit and lean sources of protein.
  • Foods such as oysters, calves liver, nuts, seeds and legumes are good sources of the mineral zinc, an important building block for the hormone Testosterone.
  • Avoid animal products laden with hormones that can interfere with your own internal chemistry. Choose hormone-free meats, eggs and milk whenever possible.
  • Choose organic produce free of environmental pesticides. Chemicals commonly used in agriculture contain estrogen-like compounds that have been shown to suppress endocrine systems of men and diminish healthy testosterone production (8).
  • Phthalates, a group of chemical compounds found in plastic food containers and water bottles has been found in research studies to contribute to poor semen quality and diminished testosterone in adult men (9). Choose glass food and beverage containers as a hormone-friendly alternative.

Therapeutic Supplement Recommendations

A broad spectrum, high potency Multi-Vitamin and Mineral supplement will provide the exceptional anti-oxidant support needed to maintain excellent vascular health throughout the entire body.

Zinc is a mineral commonly deficient in many North Americans. Supplementing with 10mg – 30mg daily (along with 1 to 2 mg of copper) provide an essential raw material in the production of the male hormone Testosterone (10).

Ginseng has long been believed to promote sexual virility and animal studies have demonstrated an increase in sperm formation, testosterone levels and sexual behaviour (11)when supplementing with this medicinal herb.

Tribulus Extract is all naturally occurring extract that has been used for hundreds of years in Ayurvedic Medicine. This proven herbal remedy increases levels of the chemical Dopamine in the brain. Dopamine works on the Pituitary (or Master) gland, increasing testosterone levels, human growth hormone and elevating mood.

L-Tyrosine is an amino acid occurring naturally in foods such as almonds, avocados, beans, dairy and eggs. In the body, Tyrosine is used to produce the hormone Thyroxin, essential for proper energy metabolism. In a study of US marines, supplementation with L-Tyrosine improved physical response to sleep deprivation, environmental and psychological stressors.

Herbal Remedies

 Butea superba is a woody vine that grows in the deciduous forests ofThailand, India and Burma. Used for hundreds of years in Eastern medicine, the Butea superba root has been a well-documented male tonic. Touted as a rejuvenating medicinal, Butea superba is known for its aphrodisiac effects on male libido, hypotensive and cardio-protective effects.

Pueraria mirifica root, closely related to Butea superba and also indigenous to Thailand has been used for hundreds of years to treat both male and female hormonal imbalances. Pueraria mirifica root is known for its potent ability to mimic estrogen-like compounds that commonly pollute the body from exposure to plastics and environmental chemicals. In men, a life-time of exposure to these estrogen-like compounds can elevate blood estrogen levels and consequently lower testosterone, causing fatigue, muscle loss and lack of libido. Pueraria mirifica root appears to neutralize these damaging compounds and help clear them from the body.

Zwell Lifestyle Recommendations

 CRON. Consuming a diet that is nutritionally dense and calorically restricted offers many benefits for long-term sexual vitality. Anti-oxidant rich and low-glycemic fruit, grains and vegetables provide important nutritional building blocks that guard against vascular disease, diabetes and metabolic conditions that can rob you of sexual vigour. Calorie restriction helps prevent unwanted weight gain and obesity, proven to disrupt hormonal balance and sexual performance.

Rest & Sleep. When sexual performance wanes many often go searching for a magic pill that will restore their previous vim & vigour. However, before settling for a quick fix consider that libido is a metabolic by-product, the energy left over after the body has completed all of the tasks you have placed on your “To Do” list for the day. If feelings of exhaustion, stress and overwhelm are the norm then it is reasonable to consider that your body doesn’t have a lot of energy left to spend. Constant stress and sleeplessness suppress the body’s parasympathetic nervous system, the system that is responsible for erection and lubrication of the sex organs. Daily relaxation and good quality sleep are as essential as any intervention for peak sexual performance.

Sweat. The benefits of regular exercise are undeniable for overall health and wellness but several studies have demonstrated that regular physical exercise improves sexual health as well. Men with an improved level of physical fitness have demonstrated in studies to experience a greater number of sexual and intimate activities, greater reliability in sexual performance and more satisfying orgasms versus healthy but sedentary men of the same age (12). Regular exercise improves not only a man’s sexual performance but also reduces his risk factors for other diseases contributing to sexual dysfunction including atherosclerosis, diabetes and obesity.

Connect. Great sexual encounters don’t have to mean sexual intercourse. Masturbation, sexual play, physical flirting, touching and toys can all count towards sexual activities that stimulate testosterone production in men of all ages.  There is a popular new age expression, “What you focus on expands” and in this case the old adage rings true. Testosterone levels of men who enjoy frequent sexual play are higher than those who let that loving feeling slip away (13). Having frequent sex is a scientifically proven treatment for low-sex drive. Better still, some research indicates that people who have sex 3 times per week can slow aging and prevent wrinkles (14). We bet that’s the best natural remedy you’ve ever heard of!

References :

  1. J E Morley “Management of Impotence,” Postgraduate Medicine 93 (1993): 65-72
  2. N1H Consensus Conference Panel on Impotence. “Impotence” JAMA 270 (1993): 83-90
  3. The New Anti-Aging Revolution by Ronald Klatz & Robert Goldman Published by Basic Health Publications, 1996
  4. The New Anti-Aging Revolution by Ronald Klatz & Robert Goldman Published by Basic Health Publications, 1996
  5. Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine by Muchael Murray, ND & Joseph Pizzorno, ND Published by Three Rivers Press, 1998
  6. C. Kim, H. CHoi, C.C. Kim, et al. “The Influence of Ginseng on Mating Behaviour of Male Rats,” Am J Chinese Med 4 (1976): 163-8
  7. The Hormone Diet by Natasha Turner, ND Published by Random House Canada, 2009, Ref University of Arizona College of Medicine Study of the impact of environmental estrogens on male testosterone.
  8. The Hormone Diet by Natasha Turner, ND Published by Random House Canada, 2009, Ref University of Rochester Study on Phthalates impact on Male Testosterone
  9. The Natural Health Bible by Steven Bratman, MD. Published by Three Rivers Press, 2000
  10. C. Kim, H. CHoi, C.C. Kim, et al. “The Influence of Ginseng on Mating Behaviour of Male Rats,” Am J Chinese Med 4 (1976): 163-8
  11. J.R. White et al. “Enhanced Sexual Behaviour in Exercising Men”, Arch Sex Behav 19 (1990):193-209
  12. The Hormone Diet by Natasha Turner, ND Published by Random House Canada, 2009
  13. The Hormone Diet by Natasha Turner, ND Published by Random House Canada, 2009


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