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Understanding Erectile Dysfunction -- Diagnosis and Treatment

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Alternative Therapies for Erectile Dysfunction

Several alternative therapies may aid in erectile dysfunction. These include the following:

Acupuncture
This technique is an ancient Chinese method of healing that involves placing very fine, solid needles into specific points on the body. Acupuncture is thought to stimulate the body's ability to resist or overcome illnesses and conditions by correcting imbalances. Acupuncture has helped some men with ED. However, more research is needed to check its effectiveness and safety.

Aromatherapy
According to a small study, some scents, like lemon, employed in aromatherapy may help improve general mood in some people. But others, like lavendar, have no effect at all.

Herbs and Supplements
There's little evidence yet to support the use of herbs for treating erectile dysfunction. If you do choose to try herbs and supplements, inform your doctor and proceed with caution. Herbs and supplements that have been used for ED include the following:

  • Ginkgo has been shown to thin the blood, but there is no proof that this leads to regained erectile function for men.
  • Ginseng and saw palmetto are two popular herbs whose claims regarding erectile function have yet to be well proven.
  • The amino acid arginine is being studied and may show promise in some cases of erectile dysfunction, but more research is needed.

The herb yohimbe has also been purported to improve erectile dysfunction, but due to potential serious side effects, it cannot be sold over the counter in the U.S. It is not recommended as a treatment for ED,

Because so many herbs can interfere with medications, check with your doctor before starting any herbal therapy.

Therapies That May Harm You

The following therapies may damage your health:

  • Cell therapy (which, in the case of erectile dysfunction, involves transferring cells from a pig's gonads into humans) is hardly likely to work, very expensive, and illegal in the U.S.
  • Chelation therapy, a form of chemical purging supposedly good for improving vascular circulation, is unproven and may be dangerous.
  • Magnetic field therapy may have some applications, but there is no evidence that it cures erectile dysfunction.

Some U.S. medical insurance polices cover treatment for erectile dysfunction that is considered medically necessary. Check your own specific policy.

Finally, don't be embarrassed about discussing sexual problems, such as erectile dysfunction, with your doctor. Most doctors are prepared to talk about and help treat erectile problems or refer you to another doctor who can. 

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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by David T. Derrer, MD on April 04, 2014
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