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What is impotence and what causes it?

The "stamp test" and medical treatments for impotence

Herbal treatments for impotence

References and Web Resources

Pump it up. Literally!
A vacuum device, composed of a plastic cylinder, pump, and elastic ring or band, can be used to effect an erection.

The way it works is as follows: the cylinder is placed onto the penis and the pump is then used to draw air out of the cylinder. The vacuum causes blood to be forced into the penis, which in turn causes an erection. Once erection is achieved, the man places the elastic ring on the base of the penis, which keeps blood from draining from the penis back into the body. The ring remains on the penis until intercourse is finished.

This device works quite well, although some men complained about the discomfort of the elastic ring, in addition to the hassle of ... er, pumping up.

Herbs: the natural answer for impotence?
Although they are often dismissed as ineffective solutions to impotence, more and more clinical research studies have found that herbs can help impotent men.

Some of the most popular herbs available on the market today include tribulus, yohimbe, ginkgo biloba, and others. Although they are generally safe and without side effects (unlike chemical drugs), it is important to know that the quality of their extraction and preparation processes vary widely.

Tribulus terrestris
One of the most promising herbs is the purified extract of Tribulus terrestris. To date, its effects on treating impotence and other sexual dysfunction problems have been extensively studied.

Tribulus has been used as traditional medicine to treat sexual dysfunction and male infertility in Europe and Asia for many decades, before improvement in scientific extraction techniques allowed identification of its active ingredient called protodioscin.

Clinical studies performed on this purified extract have confirmed the herb's beneficial effect. These studies showed that Tribulus helps treat impotence caused by low testosterone level or an imbalance in the body's level of sex hormones. The active ingredient of Tribulus acts as a natural precursor to these hormones, and is converted into its final forms by the body's own natural enzymes.

Other studies have suggested that Tribulus also acts by increasing the level of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), a naturally occuring substance in the body believed to be important for a healthy sex drive.

In all, these studies proved that Tribulus works very well in curing sexual dysfunctions and in maximizing sexual performance when taken regularly (it does not work immediately, however, Tribulus shows positive effects only after two to three months). There is no known side effect to this herb.

A note of caution: although there are many Tribulus extracts available over the counter today, almost all of these have been found not to contain any significant amount of the active ingredient. Be sure to select a Tribulus extract that contains at least 45% protodioscin (we recommend the Libilov for Men brand).

Yohimbe is an extract of a bark of the evergreen yohimbe tree, and was traditionally used in Africa as an aphrodisiac. Yohimbine, a chemical substance derived from the Yohimbe extract, is actually a prescribed medicine for sexual dysfunctions. Studies on yohimbine have shown that it may help men achieve erection by increasing blood flow to the penis and acting as a stimulant.

A survey of yohimbe extracts available as dietary supplements, however, have suggested that most do not have significant amount of yohimbine and therefore are not effective. Moreover, there are some side effects of yohimbe that you should be aware of. These include increased anxiety, sleeplessness, and mood swings.

Ginkgo biloba
Best known as an herb to boost memory and mental acuity, recent studies have suggested that ginkgo extracts can help impotent men by increasing peripheral and microcirculation of blood. Clinical studies on impotence caused by antidepressant medications show marked improvement in erection.

L-arginine, while not an herb, is a naturally occurring amino acid present in food. Studies on L-arginine have shown mixed result, and since it can affect insulin and carbohydrate metabolism, men with diabetes (a leading cause of impotence, by the way) are not recommended to take it.

Used for thousands of years in Chinese medicine to treat "old man's disease" of impotence and sexual problems, Ginseng is one popular herb. Not surprisingly, studies have suggested the positive effects of this root on the biochemical mechanism of erection. A substance in the panax subspecies of ginseng, called ginsenosides, have been thought to work by causing the release of nitric oxide, a natural substance responsible for the increased blood flow into the penis.

Moreover, it seems that Ginseng has an overall beneficial effect on health. For some (especially older men), this may just be the boost they need for a healthier sexual life.

You no longer have to suffer from impotence
The fear of impotence, stemming from the belief that there is nothing you can do for it, is slowly diminishing. Admitting being impotent is the first step toward treating impotence.

The information contained in this website is intended for general reference purposes only and has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration or other medical institutions. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice or a medical exam. Medical information changes rapidly and while SexHealthInPlainEnglish.com makes reasonable efforts to update the contents on this site, some information may be out of date. Always seek the advice of your physician or other health care provider before starting any new health program or treatment.

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