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Erection Problems

Why can't my husband get an erection?

Question

My husband and I, both 50, had an active, happy sex life for 30 years. But a year ago he started having problems maintaining an erection. We are both teachers, and his job has been exceptionally difficult. The doctor diagnosed stress and offered Viagra, but we are worried about the side effects. I suggested we stick to non-penetrative sex but we are now losing interest entirely. Our relationship is suffering. He did have a vasectomy years ago - could this be part of the problem? Various natural remedies have not helped.

Answer

Impotence (erectile dysfunction) is the failure to achieve either erection or ejaculation, or both. The ancient limbic system of the brain mainly controls erection, together with the hypothalamus, which is the headquarters of the autonomous or involuntary nervous system. Messages shoot down this network of nerves to the blood vessels of the penis so they dilate, resulting in erection. If, for some reason, the blood vessels of the penis don't dilate fully and stay dilated, the man can't have or maintain an adequate erection.

The process is triggered by a variety of stimuli, such as looking at erotic regions of the body, hearing or saying amorous or sexy words, smelling body odour (pheromones, the sex hormones) or particular perfumes, fantasizing about sexual encounters and touching erogenous zones. The conscious brain can't directly influence erection or orgasm (except for those who have mastered the art of influencing the subconscious).
Impotence can be due to psychological or physical causes, or often a combination of the two.

Psychological causes include stress, anxiety, depression, loss of libido, marital discord or guilt about sex due to religious or cultural beliefs. 'Fear of failure' is a problem, too, especially if the man has experienced several episodes of impotence.

There are many physical causes for impotence. Drugs that treat the vascular or nervous systems have side effects that affect erectile function; these include blood pressure lowering medication, antidepressants, beta-blocker, sedatives, tranquillisers and drugs suppressing stomach acid. Hormonal (endocrine) problems, including diabetes, pituitary malfunctions and, sometimes, low testosterone levels, are also factors. Vascular disease, including atherosclerosis, leads to plaque forming within the small blood vessels that stimulate erection.

Other problems include neurological complications such as multiple sclerosis and surgical damage to nerves (a common side effect of surgery on the prostate gland). Tiredness, heavy drinking and smoking are also implicated.

In your husband's case, it seems stress and fatigue kick-started the process. The vasectomy may have contributed, as it sometimes leads to weak erectile function and loss of libido some time later. If he gets an early morning erection, there is no problem with the blood flow or nerves. If this is the case, the underlying problem is psychological stress and physical fatigue, probably combined with fear of failure. Once that’s in your head its hard to uproot, but hypnotherapy and therapeutic Iyengar yoga are power full methods of overcoming the problem. Acupuncture is sometimes helpful (look for a qualified practitioner).

These are my suggestions:

  • First, you must de-stress your bodies and build up your energy levels. Abstinence may be wise for a month or two. Eat a simple, fresh, wholesome diet take gentle exercise, practise Iyengar yoga to help you relax and relieve emotions. Also, massage each other for 30 minutes three or four nights a week, focusing on the neck and shoulders to improve blood flow to the brain, and help libido.
  • Put on some pleasant music and let your partner focus on your touch.
  • Stroke the erogenous zones but do not attempt to have penetrative sex until you have had at least 15 sessions (details of this are on my lifestyle DVD, available from the Integrated Medical Centre).

This recipe for egg flip will improve sperm production and naturally create desire:

  • Stir an organic egg into a glass of hot creamy organic milk season to taste. Give him this three or four times a week for two months.
  • He should take Zinc citrate tablets: one daily for two months; or shilajit tablets: one after breakfast for three months (this Himalayan rock, enriched with zinc, magnesium and other minerals, has been used for millennia for improving ( sexual function in men). He should also take Fortex (Ayurveda Rasashala, tablets): two at bedtime for one month, then alternate nights for two more months, to improve sperm count.
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