A decrease in male sexual satisfaction may be the first sign of significant health problems boiling under the surface (1). A strong correlation was found between men aging and their sexual function significantly reducing in frequency. Surprisingly, there was no significant correlation found between men aging and their sexual satisfaction decreasing (1,2). There was, however, a strong correlation between diminished sexual satisfaction and diminishing health (3). Meaning, that when men feel that their sex life is not satisfactory, often, the problem is not age, it is diminishing health.
Stepping Into No Man's Land
It takes a lot of guts to talk about men's health because let's face it, even men do not like to talk about men's sexual health. Human sexuality is so closely interwoven with self worth, it is almost impossible to dissociate any conversion about sexual function from emotional and mental components (4). Further, when talking about men's health, it is easy to get seduced into talking about pelvic health which is the single most highly discussed aspect of men's health. While male pelvic health is worth talking about, getting lost in the world of penile sexual enhancement highly undermines the importance of overall health and the complexity of the male sexual response.
For Men's Health, The Devil Is In The Details
It Takes Many Means to Reach One End
The last paragraph was a highly simplified, vastly short description of only a fraction of what the male body experiences during sexual excitation. Why bother trying to demystify the male sexual response and honour its complexity? Simply to demonstrate that if any part of the previously mentioned cascade is not working properly, there is a significant chance that there will be a disruption in the sexual response. To most people, all the disturbances result in the same symptom...erectile problems. (3)
Starting from the Bottom Up
When evaluating why any man may be experiencing problems with sexual health, it is helpful to start by closely examining pelvic health. Investigating pain, discomfort, urinary symptoms, infection history and any changes to the reproductive organs may help pinpoint a problem that is easy to treat. Urinary problems and kidney problems play a large role when it comes to painful penile conditions (19). Botanicals like Damiana are traditionally used for bladder and urinary conditions that affect sexual function. (20)
A regular annual visit to the urologist is highly recommended for men over the age of 40. It is important to emphasize the delicate nature of all the fine tubes that make up the male reproductive system. Any chronic infections can risk scarring and remodelling of the tubes. It is also important to note that mild to moderate infections, left untreated, may permanently change the shape of the tubing beyond repair (21,22).
In the case of any chronic inflammatory conditions of the male reproductive system, it may be beneficial to consider adding a safe proteolytic enzyme like Serrapeptase to the treatment regimen. Serrapeptase is an enzyme that is unique in its safety profile as it only breaks down inflamed and dead tissue, leaving living tissue completely unharmed and ready to heal. It also has an affinity to scar tissue, inflammatory markers and bacterial biofilms, making it an excellent supportive agent when treating any stubborn inflammatory pelvic condition. (23)
Most men think that supporting prostate health is only necessary once prostate problems emerge. Others feel that supporting prostate health is an older man issue and both of these ideas could not be further from the truth. Keeping in mind that the urethra pierces through the prostate and that healthy prostatic contraction plays a pivotal role in the orgasmic part of the sexual response, keeping the prostate healthy should be the objective of any man maintaining a healthy male reproductive system.
Both Zinc and Saw Palmetto are pivotal ingredients to maintaining prostate health. Preventing benign prostatic hyperplasia due to chronic testosterone exposure is something that most men are aware of. Maintaining a healthy-sized prostate is important for both urinary and sexual health as both urine, as well as ejaculatory fluids, must pass through an undisrupted urethra. Supplementing the body with the proper amount of zinc becomes pivotal when a man uses a functional sexual enhancement supplement. The reason for that is: sexual activity depletes the body's zinc stores (24).
Zinc plays a pivotal role in maintaining healthy reproductive glands and testosterone levels. It is less commonly known that zinc actually accumulates in the prostate gland (25). A significant portion of zinc leaves the body with every ejaculation as prostatic secretions contain an astonishing average of 0.6 mg of zinc per ejaculum. Upon taking a supplement that will enhance sexual function, It is important to maintain providing the body with adequate amounts of zinc to prevent such stressors from depleting zinc stores. (26)
Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) Vs. Digital Rectal Examination (DRE)
The botanical Serenoa repens, better known as Saw Palmetto, on the other hand, is important for maintaining a healthy prostate and is likely good for maintaining the health of the prostate without impacting the Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA). (27, 28)
What most men do not know is that PSA levels can go up for many reasons other than BPH. Infections, irritation, and prostate disruption can all significantly increase PSA levels. In fact, recent sexual activity and a recent prostate Digital Rectal Examination (DRE) may significantly increase PSA. (29)
There was a past concern that saw palmetto may lower PSA measures masking prostate problems, however, several studies show that saw palmetto has no significant impact on PSA though it may significantly benefit prostate health. (28)
A well-trained, well-trusted physician may get a lot of insight from following up on the physical condition of a prostate gland. Always ask about the most appropriate time to check your PSA level. Supporting your prostate health is important even if you are a younger man.
In Sexual Health, It's Important To Have Nerve
Getting In The Flow
Andropause and The Hormonal Male
It is no secret that like women, men experience a significant decrease in hormone levels as they age. Unlike women, however, the decrease in testosterone for men is more gradual. Symptoms of andropause include but are not limited to mood swings, irritability, muscle loss, gynecomastia (breast development), insomnia, lowered libido, erectile dysfunction, poor sexual performance and decreasing bone quality.
Supporting healthy hormone levels includes supplying the body with enough stimulus to support the synthesis of hormones. The single most important backbone to supply to maintain healthy hormone levels is Vitamin D3 (8). Ask your naturopath about the maximum safe dose of vitamin D for you if you are a male 40 years or older. Having enough vitamin D in your body can significantly increase your body's capacity at synthesizing hormones.
Importance of Fitness for Men
Men are meant to do a lot, that is why they have a significantly stronger muscular system than women. Physical activity can significantly increase testosterone levels. Additionally, due to adipose (fat) tissue being more supportive of female hormones (estrogenic) in nature, males who maintain physical activity have significantly lower levels of female hormones circulating in their blood due to being leaner.
Male Hormonal Support
Nature Loves Balance
Men and women too, usually like to go into overdrive. There is this idea that if a little bit of something is good for you then a ton of it is a ton better. Nature on the other hand, thrives on balancing and maintaining the scale. Botanicals like tribulus are amazing at doing just that, maintaining the balance of testosterone. Tribulus terrestris unlike other botanicals, is not a stimulant, it is a modulator of testosterone levels. It maintains testosterone to levels that are most supportive of optimal health.
Mental Health: Being in the Mood
One of the most highly neglected aspects of male sexual health is mental health. It may sound like an unattractive topic to discuss when speaking about the realm of sexuality, but the sexual response is initiated by thought and arguably can also be disrupted by one. There is an overwhelming amount of research that demonstrates the benefits of meditation as a male sexual health enhancement. Thought not every man many be interested in meditating for 30 min/ day to improve his sex life, such studies have demonstrated that there is neurochemical parts to the sexual response that can benefit from maintaining a healthy mental space. (44)
A long list of mentally enhancing botanicals and vitamins happens to also incidentally benefit and enhance the sexual response.
Botanicals and vitamins that participate directly in the synthesis of neurotransmitters may significantly enhance the sexual response. For someone with a distracted mind, such ingredients may motivate the brain to focus on the stimulus long enough to seek the reward. Holding the burning thought in place may be one of the most significant factors in determining how strong of a sexual response can be triggered by the thought. Mucuna pruriens is a botanical known to boost dopamine levels, making it easy to focus on reward-seeking activities. Many studies show that mucuna significantly enhances general mood (45). Providing the body with enough vitamin B6 is very important for the synthesis of dopamine and other healthy, rewarding neurotransmitters. (46)
Niacin acts as a detoxifying agent in the brain. It removes toxic metabolites and facilitates the brain to focus. This is crucial for the person to be relaxed enough and mindful enough to feel the neurotransmitters the brain is putting the effort into producing. A dopamine, oxytocin, and phenylethylamine rush is only fun when you can get the chemicals into the right receptors. Making them and dumping them in a sea of adrenergic metabolites is pointless. (47)
The second way it works is by stimulating the nervous signal to travel further by providing the nerve cells more energy. The neurotransmitter cocktail hits the first brain neuron and must make its way to the rest of the body via the carefully orchestrated action potential. If any of the receiving cells are too tired to fire the signal to the neighbouring cell, we have signal disruption. Pair the neural stimulation with some increase in blood flow due to an increase in Nitric Oxide (NO) and you have a very effective signal facilitator for any neurological signal, sexual or otherwise.
The Male Specific 'Refractory Period'
The refractory period is a phenomenon that only men experience. It acts as protective mechanism as males expend a lot of energy with every sexual encounter. Thus, the body saves itself from exhaustion by leaving a period after sexual activity where the neurons are no longer receptive to stimulation. Females do not experience the same refractory period, but they also expend much less energy per sexual encounter, making them less likely to deplete body resources with repeated sexual activity (48).
Decreasing the length of the refractory period has a lot to do with the body feeling rejuvenated enough to fulfil the physical demands of a possible sexual encounter. Replenishing the body with protein and nutrients may decrease recovery time. Greens and a broken protein supplement like Best Start may help the body by providing the much-needed, promptly available fuel. Other natural, quick sources of fuel like honey, royal jelly, pine pollen and bee pollen may also help rejuvenate the body and make recovery easier.
What Should A Man Look for in A Sexual Enhancement Supplement?
Find Out if A Sexual Enhancement Supplement is Actually Working
The Male Sexual Quotient (MSQ) is a simple, short questionnaire that is designed to help men gain a good insight into their sexual health. Both, the aspect of male sexual function and satisfaction are taken into account in the questionnaire. The questionnaire can be used to track sexual health for both personal as well as medical purposes. It was of great benefit to share the results of the questionnaire with your healthcare provider.
Never Give Into Shame
Studies demonstrate that roughly 3 million Canadian men over the age of 40 suffer erectile dysfunction. Failing to sustain an erection is an experience that every man will experience at some point or the other. It is important to have enough self-compassion to bypass any shame or embarrassment and talk to a healthcare provider. Taking a critical, healthy look at male sexual health may pave a satisfying way to long-term physical and mental health. On the other hand, every step a man takes towards his physical health, in one way or the other, is going to enhance his sex life and benefit his mental health. Supporting the body with a balanced, safe, healthy sexual enhancement supplement may prove to be beneficial to many other dimensions of life.
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