No man wants to hear those dreaded words from his partner: “that’s okay, honey. It happens to everyone now and again.” As it turns out, though, as many as 50 million American males hear them at some point in their lives. What used to be called impotence now has a more clinical name: erectile dysfunction or ED. While physicians who study the problem have come up with a variety of slightly different definitions, they agree on one key point—ED impairs sexual intercourse, a major letdown for men who experience it.
ED: Symptom or Condition in Itself?
This is where the medical research types disagree. Some physicians see ED as a symptom of greater health problems such as diabetes or obesity or even psychological factors such as undue stress or depression. Others refer to it as a condition in itself—a permanent one no less. Zounds!
Of course, even those schools of thought that say ED is its own condition correlate it with other health concerns. ED can usually be traced to other problems, whether they are physical or psychological.
Does ED Happen to Everyone?
Without interviewing every man who’s ever lived, it’s hard to say if it happens to everyone, but it happens to many of them. In a nation of approximately 300 million, if half are male and roughly two-thirds are in their adult years, around half of all men will experience the dreaded ED, if the 50 million figure is correct. This begs the question: what can men do about it?
Sales of anti-ED medications such as Cialis, Levitra and the now eponymous Viagra topped $3 billion in 2006. Sales have petered out a bit (no pun intended), but they’re still high. Needless to say, here in medication nation there is something to cure anything that ails you, and that includes ED, but perhaps there is a better way.
Diet, Stress and Quality of Life
Consider other possible causes of ED: diet, stress and quality of life. Is your diet rich in whole foods, raw nuts, organic vegetables and fruits? Do you commute three hours each day and burn with rage every time another driver slips in in front of you? Do you get outdoors and hike, ride a bike or simply take walks? Or do you hunker down in front of the boob tube with a beer?
Diseases that cause ED notwithstanding, you have the power to do something about your inability to get it up. You can change your diet for one. Foods high in phytoestrogen, especially soy products, alter hormone levels in the body, which helps reduce testosterone and, however imperceptibly, work to feminize men. That’s no knock on females; it’s simply to say that maybe too much estrogen in your diet is keeping you down, so to speak.
A lot of foods, even fruits and vegetables, contain phytoestrogen, but keep in mind, too, that foods grown inorganically are doused with pesticides, harmful additives that tend to have an effect on the body similar to excessive estrogen.
There are also synthetic estrogens found in a ton of products: processed, chemical-laden foods, shampoos and other body products, plastics, etc. It’s not pretty. So much of what we think is either good for us or harmless to us is actually wreaking havoc on our bodies.
Are these hormone imbalances, then, the major cause of ED? Hard to say. Diabetes, obesity, heart disease and high blood pressure, too, clearly play roles but then, what is the correlation between those disorders and the foods and products we consume? ED happens to a lot of men, but it doesn’t have to. Not if you do what you can to rebalance your body, in terms of what you put in and on your body as well as how you choose to live your life.