Erectile dysfunction is one of the major sexual issues men face as they age. It is defined as the inability of a man to maintain or get an erection for satisfactory sexual intercourse. Indeed for many men & their partners, this can be a frustrating problem as the penis is unable to become sufficiently rigid and performing intercourse may seem impossible. ED is being more common in younger men too due to their lifestyle choices. Many men have at some point been unable to get it up. Current estimates state that Chronic ED affects about 5% of men in their 40s and 15-25% of men by the age of 65. Transient ED and inadequate erection affect as many as 50% of men between the ages of 40 and 70. It is also estimated that by the year 2025, 322 million men will suffer from Erectile dysfunction.
Erectile dysfunction can be caused due to various conditions like Diabetes, Hypertension, Multiple Sclerosis. Psychological factors like stress, anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem can also contribute to ED.
One of the infrequent causes of Erectile dysfunction is Hyperprolactinemia; it is a condition characterized by excess prolactin in the body. Hyperprolactinemia is caused by tumors that form on the pituitary gland. Medication can often shrink these tumors, though in other cases surgery is necessary.
What is Prolactin?
Prolactin is a peptide hormone produced in the pituitary gland that has several important functions. In women, increased levels of prolactin are required during lactation and stimulate the mammary glands to produce milk. Prolactin lowers levels of sex hormones, both estrogen, and testosterone. Lowered testosterone makes it harder for a man to get an erection. Prolactin is also produced during sexual intercourse and is responsible for feelings of sexual gratification after sex.
Nitric oxide is needed for the muscles in the penis to relax. This relaxation allows chambers inside the penis to fill with blood so the penis becomes erect. Many men with impotence have low blood levels of nitric oxide and high levels of pituitary gland produces prolactin. Ideally, elevated levels of nitric oxide and low prolactin levels are seen in a male with normal sexual activity. If the prolactin level greatly exceeds its normal balance, it will kill the sex drive and result in a temporary, weak erection, loss of libido, and impotence.
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Effect of Prolactin on Erectile dysfunction
Usually, the low levels of prolactin are not an issue but the high levels of prolactin can cause issues. Elevated prolactin alters the balance among neurotransmitters, neuropeptides, and hormones involved in libido and erection, affecting dopaminergic tone. An imbalance is generated between dopamine which stimulates sexual function and serotonin which inhibits sexual function when prolactin levels are increased in the body.
When the pituitary gland, located in the brain, overproduces prolactin it leads to Hyperprolactinemia condition, which is a cause of erectile dysfunction, low sperm count, and loss of libido in males. Production of the hormone prolactin rises sharply after intercourse. Researchers believe the increase in prolactin is the brain’s way to reduce the effects of orgasm and stimulation that happen during the sex act. Normally, the prolactin level will slowly decrease as the pleasure sensations from sex and orgasm wear off. But, when the brain does not tell the pituitary gland to stop producing prolactin or the high levels of prolactin do not diminish for several weeks, a male may be unable to achieve or maintain an erection, or may have reduced libido or sexual desire. Other symptoms of Hyperprolactinemia include headaches, mood changes, stress, or anxiety.
The respective hormones of the sexes, testosterone, and estrogen are adversely affected by such high levels of prolactin. A recent survey of over 300 men who retained excessive prolactin levels found that 88% of them had sexual dysfunction. The major symptom was, most generally, erectile dysfunction. The source of the ED, though, was unconventional – a basic lack of desire.
An undeniable correlation between sexual dysfunction and excessive prolactin was identified by these findings.
How to reduce Prolactin levels naturally
A potential sign of an elevated prolactin level is decreased testosterone levels, which may contribute to erectile dysfunction. If a male has low testosterone levels or exhibits symptoms of erectile dysfunction, a blood test can determine if high prolactin is the cause of either male sexual dysfunction.
- Vitamin B6 is a water-soluble vitamin that can lower prolactin naturally. Vitamin B6 has a mechanism that will inhibit prolactin production by increasing the dopaminergic effect in the hypothalamus because we know that dopamine and prolactin oppose each other.
Foods that are generally high in zinc; think shellfish, beef, turkey, and beans. It’s also important foods like potatoes, bananas, wild salmon, chicken, and spinach can help boost those vitamin levels.
- Get yourself 7-8 hours of quality sleep as not getting enough sleep can throw your system off balance, including the production of hormones like prolactin. Go to bed at a reasonable time so you get a full night’s rest. Sleep alone could help decrease your prolactin levels. sleeping more increases testosterone levels increases dopamine levels, decreases estrogen levels, which eventually decreases the prolactin levels in the body.
- Zinc is one of the main nutrients behind healthy testosterone production, and it’s also not a super big secret that zinc deficiency destroys testosterone levels. What most people don’t know is that zinc indirectly reduces prolactin levels by increasing the levels of testosterone in the body. In a recent study, it has been concluded that daily supplementation of zinc has reduced the prolactin levels in men up to 50% of its initial levels.
- The most effective herb at lowering prolactin is a chaste tree, also known by the botanical name Vitex agnus castus. The chaste tree is probably best known for its hormone-balancing effects and has been used at least since the days of ancient Greece for the treatment of various menstrual disorders. Chaste tree binds to dopamine receptors and prevents the release of prolactin from the pituitary. It usually takes three or four months for the chaste tree to affect, so it is best to wait six months before retesting prolactin levels. Before taking any herbal medicine, it is best to consult with a holistic physician, who can recommend appropriate dosages.
Though the low levels of prolactin do not cause any issue, it is evident that high levels of prolactin which is also known as Hyperprolactinemia can lead to Erectile dysfunction which is a major sexual issue among men nowadays. There are various natural treatments/ remedies available to reduce the prolactin levels in the body effectively which include quality sleep and natural supplements.