Can a Vitamin Deficiency Cause Premature Ejaculation?
It's boasted that the human body is the perfect machine, but this machine can still get thrown out of whack. Even the smallest imbalance can create quiet, unthinkable catastrophes internally.
Such is the case when you encounter gastritis, and the resulting malabsorption of one vitamin could cause premature ejaculation.
B12 is essential for healthy blood
"Gastritis happens when the lining of your stomach gets inflamed," said Daniel Sadowski, M.D., a professor and director of the Department of Medicine at the University of Alberta. "There are three main common causes of gastritis. First is pylori, an infection of the stomach. The second is autoimmune gastritis when your body begins to think your stomach is a germ and begins to inflame it. The third is by too much alcohol ingestion."
Hayley Miller, a registered dietitian based in Denver, Colorado, added that when gastritis recurs for several weeks or even months, it's then considered a chronic issue.
Nutrient absorption naturally occurs in the lining of the small intestine. But for this to happen, the stomach needs to produce a protein called intrinsic factor, which protects vitamins until they reach their final destination. When inflamed, as in gastritis, the stomach loses the ability to produce this protein and, as a result, a deficiency of vitamins may occur. One such nutrient possibly lost is vitamin B12, which can have a tremendous impact on your body.
"[B12] is an essential vitamin for healthy red blood cell products, as it helps to transport oxygen throughout the body," Miller said.
Mario Alfredo Baña, M.D., a neurology specialist in Argentina, added, "B12 is fundamental to the nervous system, as well. Its absence or diminution can provoke different neuropsychiatric diseases."
Sadowski agreed, emphasizing that B12 is also important for the health of the nerves that supply the pelvis. In addition, a lack of it can make you anemic.
B12's effect on orgasms and premature ejaculation
Orgasm is a process that happens primarily in the brain. The cerebral cortex starts processing information from receptors located in the skin, retina and elsewhere. The limbic system—which is involved in our behavioral and emotional responses—gives that information an affective connotation. Information keeps traveling and transmuting in regions such as the hypothalamus and nucleus of the brain, and, finally, the spinal cord, responsible for the reflexes to ejaculate, gets to play its part.
In every single one of these steps, adrenaline, dopamine and serotonin are necessary to moderate the signals between all these circuits.
"Vitamin B12 intervenes directly in the synthesis of serotonin," Miller said. "Serotonin exerts an inhibitory role, meaning it prolongs the time to ejaculation."
And thus, depletion of vitamin B12 could lead to premature ejaculation. According to a 2021 article published in the Journal of Urological Surgery, young men with chronic gastritis who experienced a deficiency of this vitamin recorded higher premature ejaculation diagnostic tool scores.
Awareness of vitamin deficiency is key
As likely as this chain of effects can happen in the body, paying attention to your overall health and vitamin deficiency can revert any consequences.
"The first step is to rely on a high index of suspicion since gastritis can be asymptomatic," Sadowski said. "If you experience allergies like celiac disease, thyroid problems, asthma or eczema, the chances of having autoimmune gastritis are high, so you should be checked."
Pylori, an infection of the stomach, and alcohol-use cases tend to first manifest as stomach pains. If these escalate to vomiting or having pain that wakes you up or makes it hard to eat, you may need to schedule a visit with your doctor, who will probably suggest an X-ray or a scope of your stomach to investigate its lining.
"When living with gastritis, a well-balanced diet consisting of fresh fruits, vegetables, lean meats, whole grains and fatty fish is beneficial," Miller explained. "Also, drinking too much coffee, not exercising and poor sleeping hygiene can affect the gut and cause digestive issues."
Restoring normal levels of vitamins
If you fear you might have a vitamin deficiency, you should know it's pretty easy to work toward restoring a healthy level in your body.
"Life happens, and sometimes it can be hard to ensure you're meeting your needs," Miller said. "This is where supplementation comes in since nutritional deficiencies can have cascading effects on the body."
Either through supplementation or a diet change, the expected time to boot the body back to healthy levels is typically about three months. For vitamin B12 specifically, Sadowski noted that it's important to discover the root cause of the deficiency since pills are not always absorbed by your body, thus resulting in the need for sublingual or injectable vitamins.
Being present for our emotional and mental health remains as necessary as taking care of our physical body. Think of your gut almost as a second brain since its enteric nervous system (ENS)—one of the main divisions of the autonomic nervous system (ANS)—is a manufacturing house for neurotransmitters that reduce stress and elevate mood.
"Because many people experience stress through the gut, it's hard as a physician to know if gastritis is pathological or [if] it's something from the brain-gut access," Sadowski said. Whenever stress and anxiety are high, the gut lining can become depleted, making your body more susceptible to inflammation and chronic conditions.
Finally, when you're experiencing concerns regarding your sex life, remember that many nonphysical factors can be the underlying culprit.
"As physiological as the process of ejaculation is, most dysfunctions have an origin in psychological mechanisms," Baña noted. "The search for a precise explanation of dysfunction in any stage of the [sexual] act has to have an integrative vision for a correct diagnosis."