By Behrooz-"DR BOD"-Behbod MB ChB
Medical Doctor & Life Coach
It's been a romantic Valentine's Day for many… or has it? This month, we'll delve into men's sexual health matters, including impotence, infertility and also prostate enlargement. Once again, please consult your licensed doctor prior to taking any of the advice mentioned here. Conditions such as impotence and infertility may be the result of anatomical abnormalities, previous surgery or trauma, all of which can be diagnosed by consulting an urologist or fertility specialist.
Otherwise known as erectile dysfunction, it is estimated that one in four men over the age of fifty suffer from difficulty attaining and maintaining an erection of the penis. The incidence is growing, more so in even younger men, as a result of our fast-paced, stressful and sedentary 'modern' lives, poor nutrition, alcohol, tobacco, and environmental pollution. Additional causes include the increased prevalence of heart and vascular disease, diabetes, obesity, depression, and of course pharmaceutical drugs such as antihistamines, antidepressants, and blood-pressure-reducing medication. You could consider erectile dysfunction as an indicator of a more severe underlying disease.
So what can you do?
If you are experiencing any difficulties, or better yet wish to prevent such problems, it is worthwhile consulting your licensed doctor for a check-up of your blood pressure, glucose and cholesterol levels. Here are some useful tips specifically for preventing or reducing the severity of impotence:
1. Nutrition - you may have by now noticed the emphasis I place on correct nutrition in preventing and treating a wide variety of ailments. This cannot be any truer than for impotence, since optimal nutrition controls and maintains healthy levels of male sex hormones, sensory stimulation, blood supply to the erectile tissues, as well as improving blood pressure, glucose and cholesterol levels, and most importantly psychological wellbeing.
a. Increase intake of fibre-rich plant foods, such as fruit, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts, and seeds;
b. Ensure adequate protein intake from fish, skinless chicken, turkey, eggs and lean beef;
c. Eliminate sugar intake - watch out for hidden sugars, so read food labels carefully (avoid sucrose, glucose, maltose, lactose, fructose, corn syrup, and white grape juice concentrate);
d. Reduce environmental oestrogens - including toxic pesticides and herbicides sprayed on foods, which are stored in fat cells when ingested and mimic oestrogen in the body;
e. Eliminate caffeine intake - found in tea (and green tea), coffee, carbonated drinks (e.g. Coke & Pepsi), energy drinks such as Red Bull, chocolate, and caffeine-containing "fat-burner" supplements;
f. Reduce salt intake - keep your total daily sodium intake below 2000mg, but increase the intake of high-potassium foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and beans;
g. Take a high-quality multi-vitamin-mineral supplement every day, ensuring they provide adequate levels of vitamin B6 (50mg/day), magnesium (6mg per kilogram bodyweight per day), vitamin E (400IU / day), vitamin C (1000mg/day) and zinc (15mg/day) - zinc is especially important as it is stored in semen. With frequent ejaculation, zinc stores can be depleted, thereby causing the body to respond by reducing sexual drive;
h. Take one tablespoon of flaxseed oil daily to provide adequate levels of the essential fatty acids;
i. Drink 2 to 3 litres of clean, filtered water every day;
j. Stop smoking;
k. Consult a nutritionally-orientated doctor to identify food allergies that you must avoid;
l. Herbal remedies that should only be taken under the supervision of your licensed doctor include:
i. Yohimbine increases libido and blood supply to erectile tissue, but does pose the risk of a wide variety of side effects, including anxiety, panic attacks, hallucinations, elevated blood pressure, palpitations and dizziness. It is best purchased from a reputable company that clearly states the dosage of yohimbine per serving. People who suffer from high blood pressure, diabetes, peptic ulcer, or any form of heart, liver, or kidney disease should NOT take yohimbine. Pregnant and lactating women should also avoid it.
ii. Gingko biloba extract also improves blood supply to erectile tissue. Do NOT take if you suffer from any bleeding disorders, peptic ulcer disease, have had recent surgery, have previously suffered from a haemorrhagic stroke, or are taking any 'blood-thinning' drugs such as aspirin.
iii. Ginseng has been shown to increase sperm production, male hormone levels, and libido whilst also promoting growth of the testes. Supplemental DHEA may also be helpful in increasing male hormone levels.
iv. Chasteberry may reduce elevated prolactin levels, but you must consult a specialist endocrinologist as well as your GP in order to find the cause and treat high prolactin levels.
v. Muira puama (potency wood) is a Brazilian herb with powerful aphrodisiac and nerve-stimulant properties that may help with erectile dysfunction.
2. Exercise - simply put, physical fitness = sexual fitness. Studies have proven the vast benefits of exercise on sexual function time and again, including enhanced libido, increased frequency and duration of sexual activity, and greater mutual satisfaction during orgasms. We all know that regular exercise and good nutrition help reduce body-fat levels. As an added bonus, by reducing the fat around the pubic region, you can add size to the penis without the expense and risk of cosmetic surgery.
Almost any form of pulse-raising physical activity is great exercise (including sex itself - I can see the smile on readers' faces!). Most importantly, do something you enjoy, so that you keep it up regularly (I mean staying motivated - come on guys!). Since most LA Muscle readers are involved in some form of exercise already, the only added suggestion I'd like to offer specifically for impotence would be to do a minimum of 30 minutes aerobic exercise, at the very least three times per week, in addition to weight-training.
3. Psychology - although psychological ailments such as depression play a part in causing impotence, impotence itself can trigger anxiety, stress, and depression, in turn raising the risk of developing high blood pressure and many chronic diseases. It is certainly worthwhile consulting a licensed Psychotherapist to help treat such conditions. Adequate sleep and effective stress-management by way of relaxation, yoga, meditation, prayer and breathing exercises are also vital.
There are many factors that can render men infertile, including congenital and hormonal abnormalities, infections, surgery, drugs, trauma, autoimmune disease, and problems with sexual intercourse (e.g. premature withdrawal, pain, poor technique, ejaculatory and erectile dysfunction). However, the most common cause is deficient sperm production. Although in the majority of cases no reason can be found (idiopathic), there are still plenty of things one can do to help optimise healthy sperm counts.
So what can you do?
1. Primarily, seek the help of your GP and / or a fertility specialist to rule out underlying treatable conditions.
2. Reduce scrotal temperature:
a. A high scrotal temperature may be due to varicoceles, which are varicose veins surrounding the testes and can be surgically repaired;
b. Wear loose fitting clothing and underwear;
c. After exercise or a long journey (car, train, flight, etc…) cool the scrotum down by applying a cold shower locally, and allowing the testicles to hang free for a few minutes.
3. Minimise exposure to environmental oestrogens:
a. Select organic fruit, vegetables and meat that are free from pesticides, herbicides and hormones;
b. Drink purified or bottled water - consider installing water-filters (e.g. reverse osmosis systems) for your home, for drinking, washing and showering;
c. Avoid dairy products from hormonally manipulated cows.
4. Nutrition - in addition to the dietary, exercise and psychological measures described for Impotence:
a. Increase intake of soy foods. They contain phytoestrogens (also known as isoflavones), which have a balancing effect on oestrogen levels, and can therefore exert anti-oestrogenic activity.
b. Eat legumes, nuts and seeds, which are a good source of phytosterols that may help your body increase production of hormones. They also contain zinc, which is a crucial trace mineral for the healthy production of sperm as well as hormone metabolism. Ensure your daily multi-vitamin-mineral supplement contains 15 to 30mg zinc per day.
c. Avoid saturated fats, hydrogenated oils and trans-fatty acids. Instead, include grape-seed oil and cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil in recipes and especially on salads. Supplement with one tablespoon of flaxseed oil daily to provide a good ratio of essential fatty acids. These measures are necessary to enhance sperm structure, fluidity and motility.
d. Read food labels carefully, and avoid cottonseed oil due to its high levels of gossypol which is known to inhibit sperm function.
e. Take additional anti-oxidant supplements, such as vitamins C & E, selenium and beta-carotene to help reduce free-radical damage to sperm.
f. Supplementing with vitamin B12 and the amino acid arginine may help since they are both involved in cell replication and sperm production. The amino acid carnitine may also be of use, as it is involved in energy production for effective sperm production and function.
g. Herbal remedies that may act as an aid include Ginseng and Pygeum africanum.
The prostate is a walnut-sized gland that lies below the bladder and surrounds the urethra. It lubricates the urethra to prevent infection and secretes a milky fluid to increase sperm motility. Prostate enlargement (also known as benign prostatic hypertrophy - BPH) is the result of the hormonal changes associated with aging. The risk of BPH increases with age, and symptoms can include urinary difficulties such as decreased flow, frequent urination, urgency, hesitation, and the need to urinate several times at night. If you suffer from any of these symptoms, it is extremely important that you seek the help of your licensed doctor. Left alone, BPH poses the risk of urinary retention, infection and kidney damage. The possibility of prostate cancer must also be excluded, so that effective treatments are initiated.
So what can you do?
Prostate cancer prevention will be covered in May here on LA Muscle Magazine, so stay tuned.
In addition to the dietary measures outlined for Impotence & Infertility above, the following may help reduce the risk of developing BPH:
1. Eliminate alcohol, recreational drugs and tobacco smoking.
2. Eat a high-protein diet, e.g. 45% protein, 35% carbohydrates and 20% fat.
3. Check your blood cholesterol levels, and if raised, get this treated using diet, exercise, and medication if required. Ensure you take additional anti-oxidants, such as vitamin C, E, and selenium, since free radical damaged cholesterol is highly toxic to the prostate gland.
4. The herbal remedies that can be helpful in milder cases of BPH, where the residual urine content of the bladder is less than 150ml (can be checked with an ultrasound at your doctor's clinic) include Saw palmetto, Cernilton flower pollen extract, Stinging nettle, and Pygeum africanum.
You've now read about the vast health benefits of well-balanced nutrition, regular exercise, positive behavioural and lifestyle changes, adequate sleep and stress management, together with avoidance of smoking, drugs and alcohol. The advice and suggestions given are preventive and health-promoting measures, though it is strongly recommended that you seek the care of your licensed doctor if you're suffering from any untoward worrying symptoms.
Next month, I'll be covering ways in which you can help optimise your cardiovascular health, preventing heart attacks, angina, strokes, high blood pressure and cholesterol levels, as well as diabetes (type 2 - adult-onset). If you have any queries whatsoever, please do not hesitate to email me - email@example.com.