I haven't done a proper academic study to back up my hunches here, but then we are not paid researchers or even qualified to make pronouncements on causes and cures, but again if we can't speculate on a forum where can we?
Forum users who have read my posts will have noted that I have a total aversion to mainstream medical interventions which I suspect are merely treating symptoms. I have so far stubbornly refused to get involved with T shots and Viagra, despite my issues dragging out over five years. Apart from anything else these treatments, for me shroud the real causes with an air of mystery. You take the treatment and you get better, and in between times you are just supposed to blithely accept that "these things happen". The more I read of healthy young men suffering from this problem before their time, the less I am inclined to believe that there are exotic causes. I mean if I was the only one, then I could accept it was genetic or related to my ectomorphic build, but when I read of strapping 6ft 2in hockey players with the same problem, I tend to think there may be more mundane factors creating this underground epidemic.
OK, without wishing to keep you in suspense, I will cut to the chase. Unfortunately again I think this is only a situation that younger sufferers will gain any succour from. I think there is a possibility that a high percentage of erectile and libido problems are as a result of starving the body and it's tissues of oxygen, whether that be testosterone molecules or epithelial membranes allowing the flow of blood into the penis. If you look at a series of the main culprits identified for ED, there always seems to be an oxygen deficit created, whether by smoking or struggling for air through sleep apnea from obesity or snoring. OK, that doesn't create a link necessarily to stress, other than sleep disturbance- or night shift work per se, so there may be other pathways. No doubt anything that disturbs the biochemical synthesis of testosterone or nitric oxide among others. But isn't it curious that some of the remedies or symptom attenuating therapies at least in part oxygenate the blood? For example exercise clearly oxygenates the blood, and as indicated on the Peak Testosterone site increases levels of nitric oxide required for erections.
The first time I read of this oxygen deficit theory was in a British national paper the Daily Mail Health section where they specifically described how sleep apnea/snoring choked the body of oxygen during the night and thus starved the body of the oxygen it needed to manufacture testosterone. I don't have the link here, but I can see that there are plenty of sites that describe a similar pathology.http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mobileweb/dr-michael-j-breus/erectile-dysfunction-sleep-apnea_b_875987.html
OSA is Obstructive Sleep Apnea, and....
"Men with erectile dysfunction were more than twice as likely to have OSA than those without erectile dysfunction"
and " is characterized by repeated stops and starts of breathing during sleep when throat muscles relax and block the airway".
"The link between OSA and obesity is pretty well established. Perhaps now there's another reason for men to try to maintain a healthy weight -- erectile function".
And the actual mechanism....http://health.usnews.com/health-news/family-health/sleep/articles/2008/09/12/sleep-apnea-may-cause-erectile-dysfunction
"University of Louisville researchers found that, in a study of mice, one week of chronic intermittent hypoxia (CIH) -- the lack of oxygen suffered during obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS) -- resulted in a 55 percent decline in their daily spontaneous erections."
"The findings, published in the second September issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, showed that when the mice went back on standard oxygen levels for six weeks, they recovered 74 percent of their original erectile function".
OK that was mice but they reckon similar follows for human men.
Similarly I would presume that nitric oxide and it's precursors are theoretically effective because they rectify the oxygen starvation. I'm presuming without actually having any proof that nitric oxide and oxygen levels are inextricably linked.
"A second treatment using tadalafil, which is generic Cialis and increases the availability of nitric oxide, improved erectile and sexual functioning of almost all the mice to near-normal levels."
I note this study did not find reduced t- levels, but I did read that oxygen levels effected testosterone in the Daily Mail article- sorry I can't reproduce it here for your approval.
So here are a few other articles on line which discuss the link between ED, testosterone and oxygen- and as ever I am not sponsoring the links- but wonder do they have any merit?http://www.majidali.com/low_testosterone_in_men_alternative_treatments.htm
You'll notice that this article ties together some of the other elements I have discussed so far in other postings, such as stress, adrenal fatigue, t levels and oxygen- which gives it some tentative validity to me personally.
I spotted this link about the effect of this deprivation on circadian rhythms and testosterone levels, which may have some bearing on the night shift worker who is also disrupting their natural ciradian rhythms by working through the night.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/2099569/
Anyway, a couple of other things caught my attention, which may or may not be relevant. I spied a young guy on a body building site who felt that increasing his levels of nitric oxide had also made him hornier- I'm speculating, but if true, was that the result of increasing his t levels by increasing the oxygen available to make more testosterone molecules?
But the clincher for me, was reading that doctors are using hyperbaric (oxygenating) treatments for ED with some successhttp://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/55835.php
And this whole section needs to be highlighted....
" Periodic tissue oxygenation of penile tissues occurs with nightly erections. One theory is that nocturnal penile tumescence serves the purpose of keeping the normal penis healthy by periodically increased oxygen tensions in the penile vascular bed."
Mostly the hyperbaric treatment has been used for men recovering from prostate surgery, but Google has plenty of links to it "Hyperbaric Erectile Dysfunction"http://www.google.co.uk/#sclient=psy-ab&fhp=1&hl=en&safe=off&source=hp&q=hyperbaric%20erectile%20dysfunction&pbx=1&oq=hyperbaric%20erectile%20dy&aq=0w&aqi=q-w1&aql=&gs_sm=sc&gs_upl=4546l21451l0l22873l28l22l1l3l3l0l540l4650l0.10.9.1.0.1l26l0&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.,cf.osb&fp=4c26890357e371b1&biw=1366&bih=667&pf=p&pdl=300http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18194179
"Cavernosal oxygenation appears to be important for preservation of erectile tissue health. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) has been shown to improve tissue oxygenation and has neuromodulatory effects"
Again, I don't have the link, but an increase of fat round the gullet (throat), seems to be the reason why some men fall into the OSA camp. Being overly tired or drunk from alcohol increases snoring activity, presumably both are cases were the body is desperately trying to oxygenate itself having been abused during the waking day?
I wonder too whether anti-oxidants which are primarily concerned with preventing oxygen molecules from being split into single atoms due to free radical damage, are also therefore allies in the defence of oxygen preservation in the body?
As ever keen to know whether this chimes with anyone or they can add to my understanding.