Nitric Oxide & ED: Myths & Misconceptions
Any idea what your nitric oxide (NO) levels are? Probably not. A lot of people haven't even heard of NO! Turns out, guys, this compound can play a pretty big role in your sex life. Here's what's true, and what's not, about nitric oxide and erectile dysfunction (ED).
Myth: The cause of my ED is (a) I'm old; (b) my partner's a turnoff; (c) I'm on meds.
Reality: Maybe… or maybe the cause is low nitric oxide. When you ask the average person, even men, what causes erectile dysfunction, a low nitric oxide level isn't likely to be mentioned. That's because the condition isn't well known to the public, despite the fact it is considered the primary mediator of penile erection. Nitric oxide is essential for muscles to relax. If the muscles in the penis can't relax, vessels are unable to dilate and the penis can't fill with blood to create a firm erection.
Myth: Age has nothing to do with nitric oxide levels.
Reality: In fact, age has a tremendous impact on NO levels. A man loses about 10 percent of nitric oxide production capability with every decade of his life, and the process can be accelerated by other risk factors. Studies show that by age 40, the average man produces less than half of the NO he did as a teen.
Myth: Only people with diabetes get low nitric oxide.
Reality: Nitric oxide production is impaired in individuals with type 2 diabetes, placing them at higher risk for ED; in fact, research suggests diabetic men experience ED at two to three times the rate of non-diabetic counterparts. But not having diabetes doesn't mean you can't experience low nitric oxide levels. Eating foods low in nitrates and nitrites, taking stomach acid reducers, living with high levels of emotional stress, smoking and being overworked also place you at greater risk.
Giddy Urologist Dr. Edwin Morales explains the connection between diabetes and erectile dysfunction in the ED Guide video series. Click here to watch the video.
Myth: Taking nitric oxide supplements with Viagra is always safe.
Reality: Sildenafil (Viagra), or other versions of the "little blue pill," can cause decreased blood pressure and respiratory depression if taken in conjunction with nitric oxide or supplements that increase nitrate levels. In serious cases, this could be life-threatening. Always talk to your doctor before changing your medications, and if you're combining an ED prescription and a nitric oxide supplement, discuss the potential need to tweak doses. Know how to monitor your blood pressure and respiration at home, and look out for symptoms that could indicate a problem.
Another option is to use a wearable device, like a vacuum pump that pulls blood into the penis, or a constriction device such as Eddie by GiddyⓇ, designed to treat ED by constricting the veins in the penis, but not the arteries or urethra, to optimize blood flow and help maintain erections. Wearable treatments are a good option for anyone who wants to avoid the side effects of NO supplements and doesn't want to take take additional pills. Talk to your doctor about what ED treatments might work for you.
Nitric oxide is essential for a happy and healthy sex life, and has countless other important benefits for your health. Knowing how to maximize it, and how to recognize symptoms that can indicate an issue, can help you keep your NO levels up.