Enhancing Male Sexual Health
Written by Dr. Jewel Alfoure, ND
How Does The Male Sexual Response Start?
The human autonomic (automatic) nervous system has two branches.
Both branches of the human autonomic nervous system are engaged when males are sexually stimulated.
The correct sequence of stimulation is Parasympathatic followed by Sympathetic.
Starting on the Sympathetic nervous system may override a sexual response partially or entirely.
The male sexual response is quite a unique physiological response. Unlike most reactions, it engages both the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. The sympathetic nervous system is the system responsible for fight or flight. We use it when we are at our most excited states (1).
On the other hand, the parasympathetic nervous system is the subdivision we use when resting and digesting. The parasympathetic branch is the branch of the nervous system that allows us to take care of the physiological states of housekeeping.
Unlike most responses, both pathways need to be used for a healthy male sexual response to be mounted. Additionally, good timing and synchronicity are significant factors to maintain. For example, starting the sexual encounter with even a little bit of sympathetic tone may completely suppress the parasympathetic nervous system from perceiving a sexual stimulus (2).
Such cases may render sexual performance suboptimal, even when the desire is there. Thus, it is vital for the body to be in a relaxed parasympathetic state, perceive a sexual stimulus, and then carry the signals for sympathetic stimulation from the brain down to the pelvic region (3).
Sexual Performance Accessory Structures
Blood vessels and nerves are required to mount a sexual response
Without healthy blood vessels and nerves, male sexual performance may be suboptimal
Both libido and performance capacity are essential
Assisting structures include blood vessels and nerve cells. Suppose blood vessels and nerve cells function sub-optimally; even if the nervous system engages with high synchronicity and the correct stimulation sequence, there may still be problems with sexual performance. Therefore, it is essential to remember that sexual health is composed of both libido and the capacity for sexual performance (4, 5, 6).
Libido Vs Sexual Performance
Libido is defined as the desire to engage in sexual activity and must be followed by the capacity for sexual performance. There are times when there is a desire to engage in sexual activity without mounting a complete or healthy erectile response. There is no problem with libido in such cases as there is a problem with performance. These factors have to be addressed equally for the root cause of the problem to be found.
Male sexual performance issues (Erectile Issues) can be caused by:
Psychological/ anxiety-related problems
Disturbances in vascular health
The lack of capacity of blood vessels to respond promptly
An enlarged prostate getting in the way and pressuring neighbouring structures
Sexual enhancement In 3D
Healthy improvement in male libido is an improvement that keeps in mind the increase of sexual desire, performance capacity and physical strength. The expansion of those three-dimensional factors means that there is better libido, overall.
Desire to engage in sexual activity
Capacity to mount a physiological response after the desire for sexual activity
The physical ability and the fitness to engage in sexual activity
All of those are factors related to overall health, not just sexual health!
It is also essential to remember that pelvic health is not only erectile health. For example, older men may also suffer erectile issues because of an enlarged prostate. Such conditions should also be kept in mind when enhancing male sexual performance.
Nature's Holistic Versions of Sexual Enhancement
Healthy natural ingredients that improve libido do exist. In addition, libido can be enhanced in many different ways. However, to address the several dimensions that make healthy male libido and make for a healthy capacity to mount a sexual response, we must consider several factors (8).
The first factor to consider is the enhancement of the male hormone testosterone. Enhancement of testosterone improves libido and improves the capacity for sexual performance. Testosterone is also shown to enhance fitness in general and increase muscle mass. At the same time, testosterone is very healthy in maintaining bone health, maintaining mood, and maintaining overall wellbeing (9).
Using too much testosterone might be stressful to the heart and may result in feedback inhibition for the natural hormones in the body. Thus, though testosterone is crucial, any testosterone enhancement must be followed by a regulated healthcare provider and must be reasonable, keeping in mind the individual's age and capacity (10,11).
Boosting The Hormone Testosterone
Ingredients that enhance testosterone include Horny Goat Weed (Epimedium brevicornu). Horny goat weed is a libido-enhancing botanical that improves sexual health and quality of life. In addition, it’s shown to contain a hormone backbone and an enhancer of blood flow (12).
Other botanicals that enhance testosterone levels include Korean ginseng, known as (Panax ginseng). Panax ginseng is known to improve sexual performance increase sexual stamina and endurance. Most of the studies about Panax Ginseng show a reliable improvement in erectile function for males with erectile dysfunction. In addition, Panax ginseng is known to support the body during periods of stress and enhance testosterone levels (13).
Modulating testosterone levels is very important because it leads to healthy hormone levels. The target is hormone levels that are high enough but not too unnaturally high. For example, a botanical known as Puncturevine (Tribulus Terrestris) maintains the testosterone balance for males and females (14).
It's imperative to keep in mind that increasing hormones above the natural range is not conducive to health and may result in many problems that can expand from a decrease in sexual capacity to stress on the heart and stress on the body overall.
The Blood Flow Enhancers
On the other hand, blood flow improvement is also shown to improve the capacity to perform sexually. Based on that premise, many pharmaceuticals like Viagra and Cialis increase the blood flow to the genital region. Likewise, a natural enhancement in pelvic blood flow makes it more possible to mount a healthy erection (14).
Such erectile enhancers include Horney goat weed and Korean ginseng. Though Horny goat weed and Korean ginseng are both shown to increase blood flow, one botanical known to enhance circulation excessively is Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba). Ginkgo is clinically shown to improve mental alertness and increase general peripheral circulation. In addition, it is used as a memory aid and an enhancer of the blood flow to the brain. However, high-quality randomized controlled trials show that a substantial portion of men with erectile problems report significant improvements. Moreover, those improvements are related to erectile function and prostate health parameters (16).
Protecting The Prostate
Saw palmetto, known as (Serenoa repens), is a famous supporting agent of prostate health. It is also a tonic for the urinary system but Saw palmetto is vital for maintaining prostate health.
Increasing the size of the prostate may pressure tissues surrounding it and can cause issues in urination. Other problems can be experienced when ejaculating.
Saw palmetto and Ginkgo are agents for supporting the maintenance of prostate health. They do so by stopping testosterone from latching onto the prostate, preventing it from responding to the testosterone and growing in size. It's important to consider including such botanicals in your regimen to enhance sexual health, as enhancing testosterone on its own may result in an undesirable effect on the prostate (17,18).
The Mental Health Enhancers
Another botanical that is unique in its medicinal profile is Damiana. The botanical is used for enhancing sexual stimulation and increasing energy. Known as (Turnera diffusa), damiana is an amazing botanical as it is a stimulant that's also anxiolytic.
Damiana is a perfect botanical for those who suffer sexual performance anxiety to enhance energy levels but maintain the body in a relaxed parasympathetic state (19).
Damiana is also an enhancer of blood flow and is regarded as an overall relaxing tonic to the nerves and a promoter of pelvic health.
One interesting botanical is the Velvet bean known as(Mucuna pruriens). Mucuna is a traditional aphrodisiac used by ayurvedic medicine and works to increase a chemical known as L-dopa. L- dopa is a precursor for dopamine (20).
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is responsible for pleasure-seeking behaviour. For example, dopamine is the neurotransmitter that makes the use of crystal meth, cocaine and sexual activity pleasurable. It is also an enhancer of hormones as it is an anti-prolactin agent.
Prolactin is a hormone responsible for giving women the ability to lactate. When increased in the body outside of lactation, the hormone decreases mood, increases the capacity to gain weight and decreases the amount of circulating hormones in the body.
Thus, the Velvet bean is an aphrodisiac and an enhancer of mood and hormones (21).
Enhancing the Biochemistry
Finally, it's always important to enhance zinc when enhancing sexual activity. When men ejaculate, they lose a significant amount of zinc. Zinc plays a role in prostate health, but it's also essential for maintaining blood pressure, regulating the heartbeat, and synthesizing testosterone. Therefore, zinc depletion in the body can significantly affect sexual performance. Additionally, it may also decrease the body's capacity in terms of immunity and terms of DNA replication and the synthesis of healthy hormones. Thus, it's always essential to keep zinc in mind whenever sexual health is enhanced (22).
Critical factors for vascular health include the B vitamins. B vitamins, like B9 and B12, are essential for maintaining the blood vessels compliant and free of inflammation. A decrease in folate (B9) has been linked to erectile dysfunction.
B12 is another B vitamin that is important for maintaining the health of nerves and blood vessels. B12 levels are likely to be affected by age and gastrointestinal problems (23).
When Under Stress, Look for Busy 'B's
Other essential B vitamins that play a role in maintaining healthy sexuality include B6 and B3. B6 is a vitamin that is important for synthesizing neurotransmitters and can pair with the Velvet bean to enhance dopamine levels and decrease prolactin levels. B6 is essential for maintaining a healthy mood and maintaining healthy hormone levels.
Finally, niacin (B3) is well known to improve blood circulation and assist in synthesizing sex hormones. It is also known to cause a flushing effect when taken. That flushing effect is not an allergic reaction but an enhancement of blood flow to the skin. However, some might find that effect uncomfortable. It opens up blood vessels, may increase the skin's sensitivity, and help with mounting a healthy sexual response (24, 25).
For example, paired with L-arginine, it can enhance overall blood flow. L-arginine is an amino acid that converts into nitric oxide and works as one of the primary physiological mediators for an erection.
It is vital to remember that enhancing penile blood flow is directly related to strengthening overall blood flow. Enhancing overall blood flow with L- arginine and Ginkgo may improve mental capacity, decrease blood pressure, improve cardiovascular health, and lead to firmer, more reliable erections (26).
As previously stated, maintaining sexual health is better done holistically. One can only truly enhance sexual health by improving every part of the male sexual cascade. Additionally, it is vital to ensure that every organ that participates is kept healthy, functioning optimally and replenished.
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