Erectile Dysfunction (ED) is very common - 52% of men between the ages of 40 and 70 suffer some degree of ED. Endothelial dysfunction, which leads to constriction of blood vessels, is the primary cause of ED however health problems, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, stress, depression and even many prescription medications, are all contributing factors.
Viagra is probably the most well known treatment for erectile dysfunction, however it can cause a number of undesirable side effects and it only works in two-thirds of men who use it. Viagra and other similar prescription drugs can temporarily restore erectile function for some individuals, but they do not treat chronic endothelial dysfunction, the underlying cause of erectile dysfunction. Alternative treatment comes in the form of nutritional supplements - the most common have traditionally included Flaxseed Oil, L-Arginine (an amino acid), Ginkgo Biloba, Zinc, Vitamin E, Vitamin C, DHEA and bioflavonoids.
Pycnogenol® + L-Arginine promotes optimal sexual performance
To get an erection, you need adequate blood flow which requires the relaxation of the smooth muscle in the arteries of the penis. The chemical compound nitric oxide triggers this process of relaxation, increasing the blood flow to the penis required for an erection. Endothelial cells are responsible for nitric oxide production - they release nitric oxide synthase, an enzyme that catalyses the production of nitric oxide from L-Arginine. This process is essential to maintaining an erection. Dysfunctional endothelial cells can no longer produce enough of this enzyme. Pycnogenol® stimulates endothelial nitric oxide synthase to produce nitric oxide in the artery linings from the amino acid L-Arginine, yielding sufficient nitric oxide to maintain an erection.
Five clinical studies have shown the efficacy of Pycnogenol® and L-Arginine in restoring sexual function, enabling erections, boosting libido, performance, and enhancing sperm motility, viability, and quantity.
Restores sexual function
The first study published in the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy concluded that "oral administration of L-Arginine in combination with Pycnogenol® causes a significant improvement in sexual function in men with erectile dysfunction without any side effects.”
The study included 40 men, aged 25 - 45 years (without confirmed organic erectile dysfunction) and was held over a three month period. Pycnogenol® and L-Arginine was administered orally in the following dosages:
- Month 1 - 1700mg Arginine per day
- Month 2 - 1700mg Arginine + 40mg Pycnogenol® per day
- Month 3 - 1700mg Arginine + 120mg Pycnogenol® per day
Each patient was asked to complete a sexual function questionnaire and as well as a sexual activity diary. After 1 month of treatment with L-Arginine, 5% of patients experienced a normal erection. After the second month treatment with a combination of L-Arginine and Pycnogenol® increased the number of men with restored sexual ability to 80%. After the third month of treatment with L-Arginine and an increased amount of Pycnogenol, 92.5% of the men experienced a normal erection.
Improves sperm quality and quantity
The second clinical study examined 50 middle-aged men with low testosterone levels who suffered from ED as well as from poor fertility due to impaired sperm motility and morphology. Men were given 3g L-Arginine and 120 mg Pycnogenol® plus 120 mg testosterone over a period of 11 months. 76% of men achieved normal sexual function and this effect was sustained during the entire treatment period. The researchers found that this treatment improved sperm quality and quantity at the end of the 1-year treatment and an incredible 40% achieved fertilisation.
The third study evaluated the effects of Pycnogenol® and L-Arginine on sperm cells in 50 middle-aged men diagnosed with infertility. Investigators found improvement of sperm quality in all participants, with better results in younger men. Study results confirmed that this treatment improved sperm parameters in men with infertility.
The fourth clinical study examined 50 middle-aged men with mild to moderate erectile dysfunction who were treated for one month with placebo or with Pycnogenol® and L-Arginine. Study participants recorded their sexual function/dysfunction in diaries. Treatment with Pycnogenol® and L-Arginine for one month restored erectile function to normal, and intercourse frequency doubled.
Increases sperm motility
The fifth clinical study examined 50 infertile men who were treated for one month with placebo or Pycnogenol® and L-Arginine. Investigators tested semen samples at four-week intervals and found that treatment with this formula significantly increased semen volume, concentration of sperm cells, percentage of motile sperm cells, and percentage of sperm cells with normal morphology compared with placebo treatment. Intake of Pycnogenol® and L-Arginine for one month restored the fertility index to normal values. After treatment, the fertility index decreased again to infertile status. No adverse events were reported.
Combination has been shown to improve male sexual function
Across all these studies the nutrient combination of Pycnogenol® and L-Arginine was shown to produce a rapid improvement in male sexual function. Furthermore, patients also reported an increase in sexual dreams and fantasies and more frequent morning erections. Their partners noted higher sexual interest and enhanced sexual performance.
A healthy balanced diet is the best way to consume all the nutrients we need. Sometimes however this isn't possible and then supplements can help. This article isn't intended to replace medical advice. Please consult your healthcare professional before trying any supplements or herbal medicines.