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Life Extension Magazine October 2013

Sexual health

Male sexual dysfunction and infertility associated with neurological disorders.

Normal sexual and reproductive functions depend largely on neurological mechanisms. Neurological defects in men can cause infertility through erectile dysfunction, ejaculatory dysfunction and semen abnormalities. Among the major conditions contributing to these symptoms are pelvic and retroperitoneal surgery, diabetes, congenital spinal abnormalities, multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injury. Erectile dysfunction can be managed by an increasingly invasive range of treatments including medications, injection therapy and the surgical insertion of a penile implant. Retrograde ejaculation is managed by medications to reverse the condition in mild cases and in bladder harvest of semen after ejaculation in more severe cases. Anejaculation might also be managed by medication in mild cases while assisted ejaculatory techniques including penile vibratory stimulation and electroejaculation are used in more severe cases. If these measures fail, surgical sperm retrieval can be attempted. Ejaculation with penile vibratory stimulation can be done by some spinal cord injured men and their partners at home, followed by in-home insemination if circumstances and sperm quality are adequate. The other options always require assisted reproductive techniques including intrauterine insemination or in vitro fertilization with or without intracytoplasmic sperm injection. The method of choice depends largely on the number of motile sperm in the ejaculate.

Asian J Androl. 2012 Jan;14(1):61-8.

Sex, health, and years of sexually active life gained due to good health: evidence from two US population based cross sectional surveys of ageing.

OBJECTIVES: To examine the relation between health and several dimensions of sexuality and to estimate years of sexually active life across sex and health groups in middle aged and older adults. DESIGN: Cross sectional study. SETTING: Two samples representative of the US population: MIDUS (the national survey of midlife development in the United States, 1995-6) and NSHAP (the national social life, health and ageing project, 2005-6). PARTICIPANTS: 3,032 adults aged 25 to 74 (1,561 women, 1,471 men) from the midlife cohort (MIDUS) and 3005 adults aged 57 to 85 (1,550 women, 1,455 men) from the later life cohort (NSHAP). MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Sexual activity, quality of sexual life, interest in sex, and average remaining years of sexually active life, referred to as sexually active life expectancy. RESULTS: Overall, men were more likely than women to be sexually active, report a good quality sex life, and be interested in sex. These gender differences increased with age and were greatest among the 75 to 85 year old group: 38.9% of men compared with 16.8% of women were sexually active, 70.8% versus 50.9% of those who were sexually active had a good quality sex life, and 41.2% versus 11.4% were interested in sex. Men and women reporting very good or excellent health were more likely to be sexually active compared with their peers in poor or fair health: age adjusted odds ratio 2.2 (P<0.01) for men and 1.6 (P<0.05) for women in the midlife study and 4.6 (P<0.001) for men and 2.8 (P<0.001) for women in the later life study. Among sexually active people, good health was also significantly associated with frequent sex (once or more weekly) in men (adjusted odds ratio 1.6 to 2.1), with a good quality sex life among men and women in the midlife cohort (adjusted odds ratio 1.7), and with interest in sex. People in very good or excellent health were 1.5 to 1.8 times more likely to report an interest in sex than those in poorer health. At age 30, sexually active life expectancy was 34.7 years for men and 30.7 years for women compared with 14.9 to 15.3 years for men and 10.6 years for women at age 55. This gender disparity attenuated for people with a spouse or other intimate partner. At age 55, men in very good or excellent health on average gained 5-7 years of sexually active life compared with their peers in poor or fair health. Women in very good or excellent health gained 3-6 years compared with women in poor or fair health. CONCLUSION: Sexual activity, good quality sexual life, and interest in sex were higher for men than for women and this gender gap widened with age. Sexual activity, quality of sexual life, and interest in sex were positively associated with health in middle age and later life. Sexually active life expectancy was longer for men, but men lost more years of sexually active life as a result of poor health than women.

BMJ. 2010 Mar 9;340:c810

Improvement of erectile function with Prelox: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover trial.

In a randomly allocated, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover design, 50 patients with mild to moderate erectile dysfunction (ED) were treated for 1 month with placebo or a combination of L-arginine aspartate and Pycnogenol (Prelox). Patients reported sexual function from diaries. Testosterone levels and endothelial NO synthase (e-NOS) were monitored along with routine clinical chemistry. Intake of Pycnogenol for 1 month restored erectile function to normal. Intercourse frequency doubled. e-NOS in spermatozoa and testosterone levels in blood increased significantly. Cholesterol levels and blood pressure were lowered. No unwanted effects were reported. Prelox is a promising alternative to treat mild to moderate ED.

Int J Impot Res. 2008 Mar-Apr;20(2):173-80

Effects of icariin on phosphodiesterase-5 activity in vitro and cyclic guanosine monophosphate level in cavernous smooth muscle cells.

OBJECTIVES: To investigate the effect of icariin on the cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP)-hydrolytic activity of phosphodiesterase-5 (PDE5) isoforms and the cGMP levels in cavernous smooth muscle cells treated with sodium nitroprusside (SNP). METHODS: PDE5 isoforms (PDE5A1, A2, and A3) were isolated from sf9 insect cells infected with baculoviruses carrying PDE5 isoform cDNA. Icariin was isolated from Epimedii herba. Varying amounts (10(-6) to 10(-11) M) of icariin or zaprinast were added to reaction mixtures containing PDE5 isoforms and cGMP. The inhibitory effects of icariin and zaprinast were analyzed by GraphPad Software and are expressed as concentration that inhibits 50% (IC50) values. Cavernous smooth muscle cells were isolated from 3-month-old rats, treated with icariin (100 and 200 microM) or zaprinast (200 microM) for 15 minutes, and then with 10 microM SNP for 30, 60, 120, 240, and 360 minutes. The cells were then analyzed for the cGMP concentration using an enzyme immunoassay system. RESULTS: Icariin inhibited PDE5A1, A2, and A3 with an IC50 value of 1.0, 0.75, and 1.1 microM, respectively. The corresponding IC50 values for zaprinast were 0.33, 0.23, and 0.32 microM. Icariin consistently outperformed the control (SNP-only treatment) in maintaining greater cGMP levels, particularly at the greater concentration of 200 microM. In contrast, zaprinast at 200 microM did better than the control only at 60 and 360 minutes. CONCLUSIONS: Icariin was inhibitory to all three PDE5 isoforms with similar IC50 values, which were approximately three times greater than those for zaprinast. Icariin was able to enhance cGMP levels in SNP-treated cavernous smooth muscle cells.

Urology . 2006 Dec;68(6):1350-4

Effects of icariin on erectile function and expression of nitric oxide synthase isoforms in castrated rats.

AIM: To investigate the effect of icariin on erectile function and the expression of nitric oxide synthase (NOS) isoforms in castrated rats. METHODS: Thirty-two adult male Wistar rats were randomly divided into one sham-operated group (A) and three castrated groups (B, C and D). One week after surgery, rats were treated with normal saline (groups A and B) or oral icariin (1 mg/[] for group C and 5 mg/[] for group D) for 4 weeks. One week after treatment, the erectile function of the rats was assessed by measuring intracavernosal pressure (ICP) during electrostimulation of the cavernosal nerve. The serum testosterone (ST) levels, the percent of smooth muscle (PSM) in trabecular tissue, and the expression of mRNA and proteins of neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS), inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS), endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) and phosphodiesterase V (PDE5) in corpus cavernosum (CC) were also evaluated. RESULTS: ICP, PSM, ST and the expression of nNOS, iNOS, eNOS and PDE5 were significantly decreased in group B compared with those in group A (P 0.01). However, ICP, PSM and the expression of nNOS and iNOS were increased in groups C and D compared with those in group B (P 0.05). Changes in ST and the expression of eNOS and PDE5 were not significant (P 0.05) in groups C and D compared with those in group B. CONCLUSION: Oral treatment with icariin ( 98.6 % purity) for 4 weeks potentially improves erectile function. This effect is correlated with an increase in PSM and the expression of certain NOS in the CC of castrated rats. These results suggest that icariin may have a therapeutic effect on erectile dysfunction.

Asian J Androl. 2005 Dec;7(4):381-8

Saffron for treatment of fluoxetine-induced sexual dysfunction in women: randomized double-blind placebo-controlled study.

OBJECTIVE: Saffron (Crocus sativus L.) has shown beneficial aphrodisiac effects in some animal and human studies. The aim of the present study was to assess the safety and efficacy of saffron on selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor-induced sexual dysfunction in women. METHODS: This was a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled study. Thirty-eight women with major depression who were stabilized on fluoxetine 40 mg/day for a minimum of 6 weeks and had experienced subjective feeling of sexual dysfunction entered the study. The patients were randomly assigned to saffron (30 mg/daily) or placebo for 4 weeks. Measurement was performed at baseline, week 2, and week 4 using the Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI). Side effects were systematically recorded. RESULTS: Thirty-four women had at least one post-baseline measurement and completed the study. Two-factor repeated measure analysis of variance showed significant effect of time × treatment interaction [Greenhouse-Geisser’s corrected: F(1.580, 50.567) = 5.366, p = 0.012] and treatment for FSFI total score [F(1, 32) = 4.243, p = 0.048]. At the end of the fourth week, patients in the saffron group had experienced significantly more improvement in total FSFI (p < 0.001), arousal (p = 0.028), lubrication (p = 0.035), and pain (p = 0.016) domains of FSFI but not in desire (p = 0.196), satisfaction (p = 0.206), and orgasm (p = 0.354) domains. Frequency of side effects was similar between the two groups. CONCLUSIONS: It seems saffron may safely and effectively improve some of the fluoxetine-induced sexual problems including arousal, lubrication, and pain.

Hum Psychopharmacol. 2013 Jan;28(1):54-60

Treatment of erectile dysfunction with pycnogenol and L-arginine.

Penile erection requires the relaxation of the cavernous smooth muscle, which is triggered by nitric oxide (NO). We investigated the possibility of overcoming erectile dysfunction (ED) by increasing the amounts of endogenous NO. For this purpose, we orally administered Pycnogenol, because it is known to increase production of NO by nitric oxide syntase together with L-arginine as substrate for this enzyme. The study included 40 men, aged 25-45 years, without confirmed organic erectile dysfunction. Throughout the 3-month trial period, patients received 3 ampoules Sargenor a day, a drinkable solution of the dipeptide arginyl aspartate (equivalent to 1.7 g L-arginine per day). During the second month, patients were additionally supplemented with 40 mg Pycnogenol two times per day; during the third month, the daily dosage was increased to three 40-mg Pycnogenol tablets. We obtained a sexual function questionnaire and a sexual activity diary from each patient. After 1 month of treatment with L-arginine, a statistically nonsignificant number of 2 patients (5%) experienced a normal erection. Treatment with a combination of L-arginine and Pycnogenol for the following month increased the number of men with restored sexual ability to 80%. Finally, after the third month of treatment, 92.5% of the men experienced a normal erection. We conclude that oral administration of L-arginine in combination with Pycnogenol causes a significant improvement in sexual function in men with ED without any side effects.

J Sex Marital Ther . 2003 May-Jun;29(3):207-13

Structural determination and antioxidant activity of a polysaccharide from the fruiting bodies of cultured Cordyceps sinensis.

A water-soluble polysaccharide named CPS1 had been isolated from C. sinensis mycelium by hot water extraction, ethanol precipitation, anion-exchange, and gel-permeation chromatography. UV spectra, FTIR spectra, partial acid hydrolysis, PMP precolumn derivation, periodate oxidation and Smith degradation studies were conducted to elucidate its structure. The results indicated that CPS1 was a glucomannogalactan with the monosaccharide composition of glucose: mannose: galactose = 2.8: 2.9: 1. The total carbohydrate content of CPS1 was 99.0%. The weight-average molecular weight was 8.1 x 10(3) Da. The results predicted (1-->2) and (1-->4)-linkage of mannose, (1-->3)-linkage of galactose, (1--> ) and (1-->3, 6)-linkage of glucose composed the backbone of CPS1. CPS1 was also evaluated for its antioxidant activity in vitro, including scavenging effects on the hydroxyl radicals, the reducing power, Fe(2+)-chelating activity, scavenging effect on superoxide radicals, as well as the inhibition of hydrogen peroxide induced haemolysis. CPS1 showed a high antioxidant effect, especially scavenging effect of hydroxyl radicals, the reducing power and Fe(2+)-chelating activity. The results provide scientific support for the antioxidant activity and indicated a connection between antioxidant activity and reparation of renal failure.

Am J Chin Med. 2009;37(5):977-89

Ethnobiology and Ethnopharmacology of Lepidium meyenii (Maca), a Plant from the Peruvian Highlands.

Lepidium meyenii (maca) is a Peruvian plant of the Brassicaceae family cultivated for more than 2000 years, which grows exclusively in the central Andes between 4000 and 4500 m altitude. Maca is used as a food supplement and also for its medicinal properties described traditionally. Since the 90s of the XX century, an increasing interest in products from maca has been observed in many parts of the world. In the last decade, exportation of maca from Peru has increased from 1,415,000 USD in 2001 to USD 6,170,000 USD in 2010. Experimental scientific evidence showed that maca has nutritional, energizer, and fertility-enhancer properties, and it acts on sexual dysfunctions, osteoporosis, benign prostatic hyperplasia, memory and learning, and protects skin against ultraviolet radiation. Clinical trials showed efficacy of maca on sexual dysfunctions as well as increasing sperm count and motility. Maca is a plant with great potential as an adaptogen and appears to be promising as a nutraceutical in the prevention of several diseases.

Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012;2012:193496

The effect of herbal extract (EstroG-100) on pre-, peri- and post-menopausal women: a randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study.

This clinical research study was designed to evaluate the efficacy of a new herbal product, EstroG-100, containing a mixture of standardized extracts of Cynanchum wilfordii, Phlomis umbrosa and Angelica gigas, on menopausal symptoms. This randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled trial was performed for 12 weeks with 64 pre-, peri- and postmenopausal White Hispanic, White non-Hispanic and African American women who were randomly allocated to either the EstroG-100 group (n = 31) or the placebo group (n =  3). Primary end-points were the mean change in scores of the Kupperman menopause index (KMI) that evaluates 11 symptoms, and the mean change in scores of vaginal dryness. The mean KMI score was significantly reduced in the EstroG-100 group from 29.5 ± 7.4 at baseline to 11.3 ± 5.8 (p < 0.01) compared with change of the placebo group (29.2 ± 6.6 at baseline vs 23.7 ± 7.7 at week 12). The constituting symptoms of vasomotor, paresthesia, insomnia, nervousness, melancholia, vertigo, fatigue and rheumatic pain were significantly improved in the EstroG-100 group in comparison with the placebo group (p < 0.05). Statistically significant improvement in vaginal dryness in the EstroG-100 group was also observed compared with that of the placebo group (p < 0.05). In conclusion, EstroG-100 significantly improved the menopausal symptoms of pre-, peri- and post-menopausal women without weight gain or any serious side effects.

Phytother Res . 2012 Apr;26(4):510-6