TheNigerianVoice Online Radio Center

Sexual Dysfunction: Vitamin D And Zinc To The Rescue

By Isaac Asabor
Listen to article

It is not an exaggeration to say that there is a growing recognition that men’s sexual health entails a broad range of physical, emotional and psychosocial responses to sexual interactions, yet little is known about sexual dysfunctions and wellbeing in men populations. It is against the foregoing backdrop that this piece aims at proffering solutions aimed at addressing challenges that are inherent in sexual dysfunctions among men and its associations with other purviews of sexual health. For the sake of clarity, sexual dysfunctions were defined as problems related to orgasm, pain during intercourse, lack of sexual desire or sexual pleasure.

Notwithstanding that Nigeria has close to 100 newspapers and magazines that are daily displayed on vendors’ stands across the country coupled with plethora of online news platforms, it is paradoxical to say in this context that there has been dearth of knowledge and information on sexual dysfunction. Viewed from the perspective of the foregoing, the urgent need to bridge the widening chasm becomes incontestable as there is an ongoing demand for good writers who can fully comprehend scientific stories and communicate them in an exciting manner.

At this juncture, it is expedient to ask, “Which profession can good writers be drawn from?” The foregoing question cannot be farfetched as Journalism, being a profession that is about the collection, reporting, analyzing and distributing of information that comprise of facts on situations with minimal effort of interpretation comes handy. Journalism is a concept that provides the public a well-balanced and objective perspective of what is being reported. Journalism is about describing things in a way that everyone can understand.

Without doubt, Science writing is about explaining complex ideas that nobody wants to keep secret; science journalism is about explaining things that everyone can understand but that some might prefer to keep buried.

Analyzed from the foregoing perspective, it is not a misnomer for anyone to ask if there is a branch of journalism called medical journalism. To the initiated, the answer is in the affirmative. “Medical journalism is the dissemination of health and medical stories and health related topics in mass media. It focuses on the community at large, rather than particular professional groups, by delivering health related information through well-known media outlets.

Medical and health related issues are interesting and diverse and are commonly reported, as they impact awareness, behavior and motives but may as well make contributions to change in health care usage, medical practices and government policies related to healthcare. A specialization in medical journalism presents a fulfilling opportunity to explore any healthcare related concerns from medical, social and environmental perspective.

Being equipped with sharp and specific media skills to write and deliver impacting stories about healthcare by virtue of being in the profession, this writer has embarked on an independent media research which imbued him with the Findings that administration of vitamin D improves sexual function in men, according to researchers in a study published in the International Journal of Endocrinology. According to the Journal, Vitamin D supplementation improves sexual function in men, researchers in Italy found.

“Erection is a complex phenomenon which implies a delicate and coordinated equilibrium among the neurological, vascular, and the tissue compartments,” according to corresponding author Giancarlo Balercia, MD, Division of Endocrinology, Department of Clinical and Molecular Sciences, Polytechnic University of Marche, Ancona, Italy.

Vitamin D is primarily known for its role in bone health and calcium-phosphorous homeostasis. It also appears to be involved in endocrine disease, including diabetes, however, recently conducted researchers have suggested that vitamin D plays a role in sexual function.

“Recent clinical works have suggested that low vitamin D levels may somehow be associated with the occurrence of sexual disturbances, especially erectile dysfunction, even if not all the studies agree on this point,” wrote the researchers. “These results need confirmation because of their potential revolutionary approach to the treatment of sexual dysfunction.”

To buttress this view, it is expedient to say that researchers retrospectively analyzed the records of 114 men (median age: 64 years) who sought medical care for sexual dysfunction at their Italian andrology clinic starting in 2003.

The researchers made a sexual assessment using the International Index of Erectile Function-15 questionnaire (IIEF-15), which involves five aspects of male sexual life, including erectile function, orgasmic function, sexual desire, intercourse satisfaction, and overall satisfaction.

The researchers analyzed a subsample of 41 participants (median age: 65 years) to longitudinally evaluate the effect of vitamin D supplementation on sexual function.

In the subsample, researchers administered cholecalciferol (50,000 or 100,000 IU) either weekly, every 2 or 3 weeks, or monthly. They administered supplements to patients whose vitamin D levels dropped below 30 ng/mL.

On the basis of logistic regression of the entire sample, the researchers found that higher levels of 25(OH) vitamin D were significantly associated with high values of total testosterone and all of the IIEF questionnaire parameters. Furthermore, higher testosterone levels were significantly and positively associated with increased levels of erectile function and IIEF scores.

In the subsample that received vitamin D supplementation, total and free testosterone levels increased and erectile function improved.

The author wrote, “Our cross-sectional study shows that vitamin D levels are directly able to influence all sexual function parameters,” wrote the authors. “Longitudinal evaluation of our study clearly shows the improvement of erectile function after vitamin D replacement therapy, also demonstrating the direct influence of the vitamin D treatment.”

The researchers proposed several possible mechanisms for vitamin D’s effect on sexual function. For example, vitamin D could improve endothelial integrity, and vitamin D may directly protect endothelial cells against oxidative stress. Alternatively, the activation of vitamin D by the antioxidant pathway may result in the production of nitric oxide, which promotes penile vascular dilation.

One major limitation of this study is its retrospective nature, based on the 14-year practice of one group of physicians.

“Our work shows that vitamin D is important for the wellness of male sexual function and that vitamin D administration improves sexual function,” concluded the authors. “If our data will be further confirmed, vitamin D evaluation might be included in the near future in the clinical workup protocol of male sexual dysfunction.”

In a similar vein, Medical News Today, a medical newsletter has in one of its online edition published that “Zinc helps produce key sex hormones, such as testosterone and prolactin. Zinc also enables the creation of the main component of prostatic fluid”.

There is evidence that dietary zinc may impact male sexual competency. In one study, rats receiving a moderate daily oral dose of zinc sulphate showed an increase in time before ejaculation and penile thrusting.

The magazine explained that “A 2016 study also found that a supplement containing folic acid, zinc, and the herb golden root improved the ejaculatory control of those affected by premature ejaculation.

It added, “Zinc supplements have also been cited as a potential treatment for Erectile Dysfunction (ED) in those with long-term kidney disease.

ED is when the penis has difficulty becoming or staying erect during sex. According to the American Urological Association, ED affects an estimated 30 million men in the United States. Most cases of ED are caused by a combination of physical and emotional factors”.

It explained that physical factors, such as high blood sugar and cholesterol, reduce blood flow, which limits penile firmness. Physical factors such as stress can decrease sexual desire or confidence. Serious illnesses, especially those affecting hormone regulation and blood systems, can also lead to ED.

Many with ED also experience additional symptoms such as delayed or premature ejaculation.