Impotency is a condition that no man wants to talk about, but one that affects 1 in 4 over the age of fifty, in addition to many younger men as well. While most men have occasional difficulties in this department, a persistent inability to achieve or maintain an erection sufficient to engage in sexual intercourse is considered "erectile dysfunction".

Impotency is often due to poor circulation and impaired blood flow through the penis. Hormonal imbalances may also play a role, as can prostate disease, diabetes, nerve disorders and side effects from medication. Stress, depression, fatigue and performance anxiety can result in erectile dysfunction. Only rarely does impotence stem from a purely psychological cause.

There are several supplements that can help improve blood flow to the penis. Vitamin C helps keep blood vessels flexible so they can expand and let blood through. Essential fatty acids - such as flaxseed oil and evening primrose oil - help keep cholesterol levels low, prevent narrowing of blood vessels and thereby improve blood flow. Ginko biloba, heralded as an herb that increases blood flow in the brain, can improve penile blood circulation as well. Zinc is an important trace mineral that enhances the production of testosterone. These supplements can be taken long-term as a regular part of your health regimen.

Both Panax and Siberian ginseng are often prescribed for erectile dysfunction as they seem to boost testosterone levels and sexual drive. Herbs like saw palmetto, gotu kola and the aptly named horny goat weed are also good for men's sexual health. The African herb pygeum africanum seems to help when impotency is caused by prostate disease. Exotic herbs like Muira puama and yohimbe are often found in "men's formulas" for their aphrodisiacal effects, but more study needs to be done to confirm these claims.

Perhaps the best impotency advice is to exercise regularly to keep your heart healthy and reduce stress. Maintain a low-fat diet with plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Limit alcohol and quit smoking, as both are roadblocks to virility. Consider counselling if anxiety is the root of your issue.

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