Men's Sexual Health Problems

Not in the Mood: Low Libido

Your libido often lowers as you age but it is far more common in younger men than often thought. It is a circular condition -  the more you worry about it, the more likely it is to occur. Common causes are stress and side effects from pharmaceutical drugs (do speak to your GP about your medication). Although herbs and supplements like damiana, wild oats, maca and horny goat weed can help, there is no magic answer. Get to the bottom of what is causing it: Address the stress and anxiety - the herb valerian can help - and damiana in particular, helps with the mental anxiety about performance.

If you have a low libido, reduce your alcohol intake. Alcohol also depresses the central nervous system (CNS) and men who drink regularly find that associated low libido is common, even though occasional use can seem to stimulate desire.

Being overweight is definitely a contributing factor so plan to lose those extra pounds. Add in regular exercise so that you feel healthy, alert and on top of your game.

Stress counselling can often be helpful, combined with herbs and supplements too. 

Brewers Droop: Erectile Dysfunction

Erectile impairment (trouble getting or sustaining an erection) is also far more common that many realise and affects millions of men. The causes are similar to low libido but artherosclerosis (narrowing of the arteries which can cause heart disease) can also play a part. This is why smoking and diabetes, which both trigger narrowing of the arteries, are often implicated. Again, avoid narcotics and alcohol. As Shakespeare says of alcohol in Macbeth "It provokes the desire, but takes away the performance." 

Occasionally erectile dysfunction is caused by a deficiency of testosterone but this is not particularly common. Your GP can test for this and also for diabetes to rule them out. Or discuss any medication side effects.

Emotional stress is again a significant factor. Money worries, work pressure and marital strife can all undermine sex drive.

Do not be tempted to take quick fix drugs like sildenafil (Viagara) if you are on medication. With some nitrate drugs for angina and heart disease this can cause a potentially fatal drug interaction. Even without the complication of medication many men get headaches and flushed faces from taking sildenafil.

Herbs and supplements that support the adrenal system like ginseng, ginkgo and ashwagandha have a role to play, as do plants that help to lower cholesterol like wild oats and garlic.

Herbal stimulants are widely advertised but need to be treated with caution. Herbs like ephedra (ma huang) are banned in the UK. Many of the widely advertised ones are high in caffeine like coffee, tea, cocoa, guarana, maté and kola nut.

The best approach is a long term one of improving your diet, increasing exercise levels which can help significantly, reducing stress levels and using herbs like damiana to support this process - not to replace it.

© Napiers Herbals Ltd 2014 • Edinburgh and Glasgow • Herbalists and Medical Botanists since 1860
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