What is Impotency / Erectile dysfunction (ED)?
Impotency / ED are defined as the inability to develop or sustain an erection satisfactory for sexual intercourse. Those who are experiencing below-par sexual performances are not alone. Approximately 30 million men have this difficulty. In a recent survey among men ages 23 to 78, roughly one in four said they either have premature ejaculation or have trouble in achieving a proper erection. (Reuters Health 2002)
What does Ayurveda say about Impotency / ED?
Ten years ago, 85% of the cases of male erectile dysfunction were ascribed to emotional causes. But in reality, impotency has psychological origins in less than 15% of reported cases. There are many medical conditions that can cause impotence, especially vascular diseases such as atherosclerosis, heart disease, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Just as restricted blood flow to the heart can cause a heart attack or a stroke; similarly, poor blood flow to the penis can result in impotence. Diabetes is another common cause. About 50% of all diabetic patients of age 55 or older are afflicted. Diabetes can damage large and small blood vessels, and may also affect the brain’s ability to transmit impulses to different areas of the body. Neurological impairment resulting from injuries to the spinal cord, brain, prostate, or groin area can interrupt nerve impulses to the penis, as can neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s. Multiple sclerosis, a degenerative disease of the nervous system can also cause impotence. Recent studies have also linked water sports, gymnastics, horseback riding, bicycling and pelvic injuries to male erectile dysfunction. Surgical procedures in the pelvis area, especially to the prostate gland, bladder rectum or colon can cause impotence as well as blood or nerve pathway damage.
Another cause is drugs. There are around 200 prescription drugs known to cause erectile dysfunction. The most common are diuretics, blood pressure medications, tranquilizers, anti-depressants, sedatives, and psychiatric drugs. Long-term use of alcohol, nicotine, cocaine and marijuana can also lead to impotency. About 3% of men suffer from a testosterone deficiency, which causes impotence. An excess of prolactin, a hormone produced by the pituitary gland, can cause the testosterone level to drop, thereby lessening the male sex drive. Another less common disease is Peyronies Disease, which occurs due to inflammation in penis area. In these cases, erections can be painful, thus interfering with sexual intercourse.
Psychological causes of impotence, as stated earlier, represent around 15% of all cases of male impotence. These typically include psychological/emotional problems such as depression, low self-esteem, anger, fear of failure, and fear of contracting sexually transmitted diseases. Recent studies suggest that the number of American men with erectile dysfunction may be up to 30 million. Erectile dysfunction has been found to be associated with age. A prevalence of about 5% is observed at age 40, increasing to 25% at age 65. One-third of older men receiving medical care at the Dept. or Veterans’ Affairs admitted to erection problems. The National Ambulatory Medical Care reported about 525,000 visits for erectile dysfunction in 1985, while a survey by the National Hospital Discharge that same year estimated that the problem accounted for more than 30,000 hospital admissions nationwide. According to one report, erection failure was the leading complaint of males receiving sex therapy.
What is Ayurveda’s approach to Impotency / ED?
The problems related with sexual health have been described under a speciality called VAJIKARANA. A ‘vaji’ is a horse or stallion. These are substances that give the power or vitality of a horse, particularly the horse’s great capacity for sexual activity. More commonly, one could call them “aphrodisiacs”. Vajikaranas reinvigorate the body by reinvigorating the sexual organs. The semen or reproductive tissue (the Ayurvedic concept includes both male and female reproductive tissues) is the essence of all the dhatus, the cream of all the tissue elements in the body. It contains the power to create life. This means not only the capacity to bring a new life into existence, to create a child, but also to renew one’s one life, to return our cells to the vigor of youth.
The same life-creating energy, if directed inwards, can aid in the renewal of both body and mind. Vajikarana substances may be used either to improve sexual vitality and functioning, or to help direct sexual energy inwards for regeneration. Most of these are not simple aphrodisiacs – substances exciting sexual activity through irritation of the sexual organs. Many are tonics that actually nurture and give direct sustenance to the reproductive tissues. Others help promote the creative transformation of sexual energy for the benefit of the body-mind. By starting in the reproductive system, these herbs invigorate the entire system, just as a tree is invigorated from the roots. They have a strong revitalization action on the nerves and bone marrow, and increase the energy of the mind. Semen is the Soma of the body, which if catalyzed in the right way, by Rasayana and Vajikarana substances, brings about the renewal of the mind. In a similar way it helps strengthen the bones, muscles, ligaments and blood. Vajikaranas can be divided into tonics and stimulants.
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Ayurveda tips to overcome ED