The little blue pill. For some men, it is a necessity to engage in intercourse. According to WebMD, 40-50% of men experience some level of erectile dysfunction, and sales of the most common erectile dysfunction medication, Viagra, have tripled over the past 10 years. It is evident that erectile dysfunction is a common problem, and men want solutions for this issue. Could CBD for erectile dysfunction be one of them?
Erectile dysfunction has many causes, and Viagra doesn’t address all of them, plus Viagra isn’t safe for all men to take.
Some men are looking for a more natural approach for their erectile dysfunction, and CBD has been a popular alternative therapy for symptoms of a variety of conditions, including pain, anxiety, and seizures.
Is it true that there is a place for CBD for erectile dysfunction? Can this hemp plant extract be the secret weapon men have been looking for? To answer this question, let’s first take a look into what can cause erectile dysfunction.
CBD for Erectile Dysfunction: Just the Facts
Erectile dysfunction affects 40-50% of men in the United States. Although medications like Viagra are helpful for symptoms of erectile dysfunction, this medication does not help with the mental and emotional causes of erectile dysfunction, such as anxiety.
CBD has been shown in research to help alleviate both generalized and performance anxiety as well as support cardiovascular health — two underlying causes of erectile dysfunction. Although there have not been clinical studies on CBD for erectile dysfunction, the research on CBD for some of its common causes shows promise for its potential use in this condition.
A Bit More About Erectile Dysfunction
Erectile dysfunction, or impotence, can significantly affect a man’s quality of life and self-esteem. Most men do experience issues with achieving and maintaining an erection on occasion; however, when the problem is persistent, it could be indicative of a deeper issue.
Symptoms of erectile dysfunction include:
- Trouble achieving an erection
- Difficulty maintaining an erection
- Low libido
Outcomes of Erectile Dysfunction
Suffering from erectile dysfunction can result in a number of undesirable outcomes. For example, the Sexual Dysfunction Association conducted a survey of men with erectile dysfunction. This is what they found:
- 62% reported that their erectile dysfunction reduced their self-esteem
- 29% reported that their erectile dysfunction negatively affected their romantic relations
- 21% reported that their relationship had ended due to their erectile dysfunction
One participant describes his feelings around erectile dysfunction like this:
“[Erectile dysfunction] does get you down. It… stunts your confidence because you just feel inadequate…”
In addition, beyond social and emotional aspects, erectile dysfunction can prevent a couple from being able to get pregnant. For those couples wishing to start a family, erectile dysfunction can be a serious hindrance.
In short, erectile dysfunction has a significant negative impact on a man’s emotional well-being, social and romantic relationships, as well as prevent couples from starting a family.
What Causes Erectile Dysfunction?
Erectile dysfunction can be caused by several factors, including:
- Anxiety and performance anxiety
- Some medications like antidepressants
- Blood flow issues and cardiovascular disease
- Decrease libido
- Alcohol use
- High blood pressure
- Autoimmune conditions
- Nerve damage
Keep in mind, for some men, their erectile dysfunction is caused by a combination of factors which can be physical, mental, and emotional.
The Conventional Approach to Erectile Dysfunction
When seeing a doctor for erectile dysfunction, he or she will perform laboratory tests and a physical exam to rule out any underlying conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, or kidney disease, which may be the cause of your erectile dysfunction.
The doctor will also look into the medications you are taking, as some medications, such as antidepressants, have a side effect of erectile dysfunction.
Once all serious health conditions are ruled out, the most common treatment for erectile dysfunction is Viagra (Sildenafil), or other drugs which work the same.
How Does Viagra Work?
These drugs increase nitric oxide, which opens up vessels in the penis and therefore increases blood flow, leading to an erection. Side effects include:
- Flushing of the skin
- Nasal congestion
- Back pain
- Digestive upset
- Vision changes
These medications do not work for all men. One reason is they do not address the mental or emotional side of erectile dysfunction. In addition, these drugs are not safe to use in men who have heart conditions, low blood pressure, or take medications like nitroglycerin (for chest pain).
A study found that only 5% of erectile dysfunction is physical, meaning the other 95% is emotional or mental. Therefore, therapies which can help reduce the anxiety, performance anxiety, and stress surrounding achieving and maintaining an erection is an essential piece of managing erectile dysfunction.
CBD has been studied for its use in managing anxiety and stress. Can CBD help with erectile dysfunction? Let’s see what the research says.
What the Research Says on CBD for Erectile Dysfunction
To date, there have not been any studies on CBD for erectile dysfunction.
However, there has been some research surrounding the topic, which suggests that CBD may impact men’s sexual health.
The Endocannabinoid System
Researchers have found that there are CB1 receptors in the male reproductive organs, such as in the testes. Also, the endocannabinoid system is present in the hypothalamus-pituitary axis, or HPA axis, which is the part of our brains which create the signals for the testes to produce testosterone and sperm.
These research findings suggest that the male reproductive system may be influenced by the endocannabinoid system, which CBD stimulates. However, it is not clear from this research whether CBD can help with ED or not.
Studies have shown using marijuana negatively impacts fertility in males. This is because the cannabinoids in marijuana, such as THC and CBD, compete for the natural cannabinoids the body makes. However, studies on this phenomenon show that THC is more disruptive than CBD for male fertility.
CBD products sold in the U.S. contain less than 0.3% THC. Therefore, they may not have a negative impact on sexual health like marijuana does. But without proper research on this subject, it is too soon to say for sure.
CBD and the Cardiovascular System
Cardiovascular disease is a common cause of erectile dysfunction, and Viagra works by promoting increased blood flow. CBD may have a similar, yet less dramatic, effect on dilating blood vessels and encouraging blood flow.
An article in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology discussed how CBD positively affects the cardiovascular system. They described previous studies found that CBD helps to relax blood vessels and increase blood flow.
CBD may help with erectile dysfunction through this mechanism. However, clinical studies on humans are still necessary.
Anxiety, Erectile Dysfunction, and CBD
For some, erectile dysfunction is due to performance anxiety. Studies have shown that CBD helps reduce both general anxiety as well as social anxiety. This is believed to be from CBD’s stimulation of the endocannabinoid system, which in turn decreases anxiety, as well as its ability to increase blood flow to the limbic and paralimbic regions of the brain. These are the areas of the brain involved in emotional processing.
To summarize, it is possible that CBD may help men with erectile dysfunction due to its influence on anxiety through the endocannabinoid system. But without clinical trials, we can’t make an accurate claim on such subjects.
Research on CBD For Erectile Dysfunction: Summary
Research has shown that the endocannabinoid system is involved in the HPA axis and regulation of testosterone and sperm production.
Clinical studies support that CBD reduces social anxiety and other forms of anxiety, which is a common cause of erectile dysfunction.
Animal studies show that CBD increases blood flow by relaxing blood vessels, which is the same mechanism as Viagra.
This research indicates that CBD may be useful for erectile dysfunction, but more research is required to make a definitive conclusion.
Final Thoughts on CBD for Erectile Dysfunction
Erectile dysfunction affects close to half the men in the United States. Understanding and addressing the underlying cause of erectile dysfunction is the first step in managing the symptoms.
CBD is showing promise in areas of research that relate to erectile dysfunction, such as decreasing anxiety, and increasing blood flow. However, until we have human clinical trials on CBD for erectile dysfunction, we won’t know for sure whether CBD is effective.