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Healthline Sexual Health

Can zinc help treat erectile dysfunction?

Zinc is a trace mineral that plays a vital role in many aspects of human health. These processes include growth, immunity, and reproduction.
It helps the body produce and regulate many hormones including testosterone. Some studies have shown a link between not having enough zinc and erectile dysfunction (ED).

Zinc and ED

Zinc is vital to the development and function of the male sex organs. Males with zinc deficiency have been shown to have less developed testes and reduced sperm count.
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 studyTrusted Source, rats receiving a moderate daily oral dose of zinc sulphate showed an increase in time before ejaculation and penile thrusting.
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.
Zinc supplements have also been citedTrusted Source as a potential treatment for 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.
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.

Common causes of ED include:

  • cardiovascular disease
  • lack of exercise
  • high blood pressure
  • high blood sugar
  • high cholesterol
  • smoking
  • drug or alcohol use
  • obesity or metabolic syndrome
  • nerve damage
  • spinal cord injury
  • sexual performance anxiety
  • stress
  • relationship, family, or workplace conflict
  • depression
  • medications
In more recent years, zinc deficiency has also been linked to ED.

Deficiency

An estimated 17 percentTrusted Source of the global population is thought to suffer from zinc deficiency. Symptoms of zinc deficiency include loss of energy, poor appetite, slow healing wounds, long-term respiratory infections, acne, dermatitis, and psoriasis.
The symptoms of zinc deficiency vary greatlyTrusted Source with severity.
Cases of severe zinc deficiency are considered rare. They are often caused by genetic disorders or illnesses, but can take a serious toll on health.
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