erectile dysfunction

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Study: Dietary Supplement To Boost Sexual Performance Often Mislabeled, Posing Risks

If you’re not a man in the market for a natural way to boost your sexual performance, you may be unfamiliar with yohimbe. It’s an African tree whose bark yields a substance, yohimbine, which can be extracted and used as an aphrodisiac.

But for those who seek this common supplement, beware: according to a new study by Harvard researchers, the vast majority of yohimbe sold as a dietary supplement by mainstream retailers in the U.S. is mislabeled in a way that could pose a safety risk to consumers.

Dr. Pieter Cohen, an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School who studies dietary supplements, says of the 49 yohimbe products he and his colleagues tested, most had inaccurate data either about the quantity of active ingredient or an incomplete list of known side effects.

“These are completely misleading in terms of labels,” Cohen, the lead author of the new study and an internist at Cambridge Health Alliance, said in an interview. “If safe consumption of a product requires that both accurate quantity as well as known adverse effects be provided on the label, then only 4.1 percent of the yohimbine supplement brands analyzed provided sufficient safety information for consumers.”

(Rachel Zimmerman/WBUR)

(Rachel Zimmerman/WBUR)

But the real problem, Cohen says, is the federal law governing dietary supplements which regulates such products more like food than drugs and doesn’t require the kind of stringent pre-market testing for safety and effectiveness mandated for prescription drugs. “Every problem we found with yohimbe supplements brings us back to fundamental flaws in the law,” Cohen said.

Here’s the conclusion of his study, published today in the journal Drug Testing and Analysis: Continue reading

Proof In The Pants: A Pivotal Moment In Pre-Viagra History

Dr. Abraham Morgentaler, author of the new book, "Why Men Fake It: The Truth About Men And Sex." (Courtesy Henry Holt)

Dr. Abraham Morgentaler, author of the new book, “Why Men Fake It: The Totally Unexpected Truth About Men And Sex.” (Photo: Adrien Bisson, Courtesy Henry Holt)

I can’t remember the last time a piece of important medical history made me gasp, drop my jaw and then explode into disbelieving laughter. But such was the effect of the passage below from Dr. Abraham Morgentaler’s new book, “Why Men Fake It: The Totally Unexpected Truth About Men And Sex,” which will be officially published April 16.

Now, I don’t blame you if you find it a tad hard to believe that a prominent scientist at a major medical conference would in fact drop his pants and ask audience members to check his “degree of tumescence.” (Oops. Spoiler alert.)

But I found confirmation from a second source in a medical journal, this similarly hilarious account in the journal BJUI, formerly known as the British Journal of Urology: How (not) To Communicate New Scientific Information: A Memoir of the Famous Brindley Lecture.

(AP photo/Daniel Roland)

(AP photo/Daniel Roland)

Just to set the scene: We’re back in the 1980s, the not-so-distant dark ages for erectile dysfunction, when little was understood about its biological underpinnings, and psychological explanations ruled. Dr. Morgentaler writes that therapists offered “an endless set of psychological causes” to explain erectile dysfunction, from early bedwetting to an unexpected childhood glimpse of people having sex.

Meanwhile, researchers were beginning to understand more about how erections worked, particularly the key role of the “corpora cavernosa,” anatomic structures whose spongy innards hold “‘cavernous’ spaces that are lined with smooth muscle.”

But enough background. Let us jump to 1983 Las Vegas, and a memorable moment in pre-Viagra history…

Keep Your Pants On [Excerpted with permission; all rights reserved.]

Advances in medicine and science do not necessarily move forward in a series of considered steps, with each study adding to our knowledge incrementally. More often than not, science, like evolution, is propelled by major disruptions. In the world of male sexuality, that disruption was caused by an eccentric British neurophysiologist named Giles Brindley, who in 1983 gave a lecture that would change the field forever. Over the years I’ve asked several of my colleagues who attended what it was like, and they all smile and shake their heads in wonder.

Finally, he says, ‘Oh hell,’ or whatever the British equivalent is, and says, ‘I guess I need to demonstrate this for you.’

Recently, at a meeting of the Sexual Medicine Society of North America (yes, such a society really does exist!), I sat down with Irwin Goldstein, MD, accompanied by his wife, Sue, to talk about the shift from the Masters and Johnson psychological model of erections and ED to the physical model that followed. Irwin has been, in my opinion, the single most important figure in the world of sexual medicine over the last thirty years. During that period, wherever and whenever there was something important happening in the field, Irwin was there, often as the leading figure. A high-energy, enthusiastic, irrepressibly cheerful man, Irwin trained dozens of individuals who went on to achieve their own academic prominence. Several years ago he moved to San Diego, where he established the first department of sexual medicine in the country at Alvarado Hospital Medical Center.

“Before Giles Brindley,” explained Irwin, “we knew erection must be controlled somehow by smooth muscle. But we didn’t know whether smooth muscle in the penis caused erections by contracting or relaxing. Actually, the scientific community at the time was divided into two camps: ‘the vascular relaxation camp’ and ‘the vascular contraction camp.’ After Brindley, there was no more discussion. It was settled.”

“Were you there?” I asked.

“Of course,” he replied. “I was one of the speakers on the same program.”

“What happened?”

“It was incredible. Continue reading

New $300 Male Vibrator For Erectile Dysfunction

Better than the little blue pill?

It has been a good season for men’s sexual health.

Last week, The New York TImes reported on some cool (and long-awaited) scientific advances on male contraceptives. Researchers, for instance, are working on ways to greatly lower a man’s sperm count temporarily, which seems a much better option than the no-way-out path of a vasectomy. Others are developing drugs to disable a critical part of the sperm tail that helps it reach an egg.

Now comes news of the Viberect, a hand-held vibrator for men, which has been cleared by the FDA to treat Erectile Dysfunction and for post-cancer rehabilitation. The promise of a good erection won’t come cheap, however: the prescription-only device will run about $300, and should be ready to ship in a few weeks, according to its manufacturer.

It’s hard to believe that an instrument shaped like a set of salad tongs can beat one of the conditions most feared by men in the AARP crowd.

But Dr. Kambiz Tajkarimi, the urologist who developed the device and now runs the company that sells it, Reflexonic, LLC, of Chambersburg, PA, says he’s been receiving “thousands of emails” from doctors and patients anticipating the Viberect’s release. “We have received an unprecedented interest from around the world,” he said. Continue reading

Viagra For Valentine’s Day

Viagra prescriptions typically spike the week before Valentine's Day

Forget spontaneity. Guys appear to be prepping for romantic encounters Monday with both presents and pills, according to this seasonal piece on MSNBC.

Last year, the week right before Valentine’s Day saw more prescriptions written for Viagra than any other week of the year (the lowest demand came the week before Thanksgiving — clearly a libido-killing holiday).

And this year looks to be no different:

Overall, the week before Valentine’s Day is among the top weeks of the year for demand for all male sex-enhancing drugs, with 396,670 total prescriptions logged representing about 2.9 million doses. That’s nearly 100,000 more pills and injections — and potential love connections — than in an average week.

The reason for the rise is simple, said Dr. Irwin Goldstein, a urologist and director of the San Diego Sexual Medicine center at Alvarado Hospital.

“It’s not Valentine’s Day, it’s Viagra Day,” joked Goldstein. “Valentine’s Day is the one day in the 365-day calendar where interest in intimacy and romance is memorialized.”

In fact, for men — and women — in relationships, expectations are high for having sex on Feb. 14, said Debby Herbenick, associate director of The Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University in Bloomington.

Research from a not-yet published study asked couples who have sex infrequently to say what prompted their most recent encounter, said Herbenick, who is also a sexual health educator with the renowned Kinsey Institute.

Overwhelmingly, the top reason for recent sex was Valentine’s Day, she said.