You’ve probably heard a thing or two about nitric oxide.
We are often told to increase consumption of items that increase levels of nitric oxide in order to improve sexual function.
But what is nitric oxide?
And more importantly, can nitric oxide help your sexual performance?
Scroll down to find out if nitric oxide does help sexually and how to obtain it.
What is nitric oxide?
Generally speaking, nitric oxide is a colorless gas and one of the principal oxides of nitrogen. Its formula is NO.
The body naturally produces nitric oxide, which then exhibits important functions for our health and well-being. In your body, nitric oxide is the end result of a conversion process where dietary nitrates are turned into this chemical.
What does nitric oxide do?
Almost every type of cell in the body produces nitric oxide. It is one of the most significant molecules for the health of your blood vessels.
The main function of nitric oxide is acting as a vasodilator, which widens blood vessels to allow more blood to flow through. It works by relaxing the inner muscles of blood vessels. The result of this activity is improved blood flow and lowered blood pressure.
Nitric oxide is a signaling molecule, meaning it is involved in several physiological and pathological processes.
In the nervous system, nitric oxide can act as a neurotransmitter, including in the autonomic nervous system. Nitric oxide can also modulate T-cell-mediated immune response, thereby positively influencing the immune system.
Signs of low nitric oxide
The body responds to low levels of chemicals, compounds, nutrients, and hormones through various symptoms that tell you something is wrong.
So, signs of low nitric oxide levels may vary from one person to another, but they usually include:
- Poor vision
- A slight difference in body temperature, i.e., feeling feverish
- Pains and aches throughout the body
- Chronic stress
- Low energy levels
- Slow recovery times, e.g., after a workout
- Erectile dysfunction
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Brain fog
- Insomnia and other sleep problems
Does nitric oxide help sexually?
Due to its important role, nitric oxide has tons of benefits. Better sexual performance is among them.
Keeping nitric oxide at normal levels can do wonders for your sex life and thereby boost your confidence and self-esteem. The beneficial effects of nitric oxide on sexual function stem from its vasodilating properties.
Below, you’ll learn more about different ways through which nitric oxide can help you sexually.
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5 benefits of nitric oxide sexually
Nitric oxide can improve your sexual function in more ways than one. The most significant ways nitric oxide can help sexually are listed below.
1) Stronger erections
The most significant sexual benefit of nitric oxide is its positive influence on your erections. In fact, nitric oxide can help treat erectile dysfunction (ED). You see, nitric oxide is the main vasoactive neurotransmitter of erectile action in corpora cavernosa.
Nitric oxide relaxes blood vessels, thus allowing more blood to go through and fill out penile chambers. That way, it produces engorgement and strong erections.
Evidence shows that impaired NO bioactivity can prevent smooth muscle relaxation and thereby contribute to erectile dysfunction (1).
Any health problem that decreases nitric oxide synthesis can contribute to erectile dysfunction and thereby negatively affect your sex life.
The main causes of poor nitric oxide in the body include cigarette smoking, a diet low in nitrates, a sedentary lifestyle, and an overall unhealthy lifestyle.
As nitric oxide levels improve, so does the quality of your erections. Nitric oxide isn’t just beneficial for men with ED who want to achieve a strong and hard erectile response. It’s also useful for men with normal erections because it can prevent ED.
If you are looking for a way to take your sex life to a new level and improve erectile strength, nitric oxide is the solution.
2) Higher libido
Libido is what drives your sexual function. Everything starts with a desire to have sexual intercourse after stimulation. Libido isn’t constant, though. It fluctuates.
Various factors can reduce your libido and make your sex drive low or nonexistent. These factors include low testosterone levels, certain medications, depression, chronic illness, sleep problems, stress, aging, and relationship issues, just to name a few.
Low libido reduces sexual activity and thereby negatively affects your confidence and self-esteem. Just like it can go down, libido can turn back up again.
Yet another way through which nitric oxide improves sexual function is increased libido. One study showed that men taking l-citrulline reported an increased frequency of sexual activity (2).
People who notice their sex drive is low may want to consider whether they’re getting enough nitric oxide. By improving libido, you can take your sex life to a new level.
3) Treating or preventing premature ejaculation
It’s not uncommon for men to struggle with ejaculation-related problems. The most common issue of that kind is premature ejaculation. It happens when a man ejaculates soon after penetration or sexual stimulation, usually within 60 seconds.
While it’s not entirely clear why it happens, psychological and biological causes could play a role. Plus, you are more likely to have premature ejaculation if you also have erectile dysfunction or stress.
While most men experience this issue at one point or another, it’s a major source of frustration. Premature ejaculation affects confidence and negatively affects sexual function and overall sex life.
A study from the journal Andrologia found that reduced nitric oxide levels are associated with premature ejaculation. Scientists found that nitric oxide may delay ejaculation presumably by a central, peripheral mechanism (3).
Although this subject requires further research, one thing is certain – nitric oxide could help men with premature ejaculation. In men without this sexual dysfunction, nitric oxide could prevent problems with ejaculation and delay your orgasm.
4) Vaginal lubrication in women
The sexual benefits of nitric oxide aren’t reserved for men only. This molecule improves sexual function in women as well.
The main benefit of NO for women is its impact on vaginal lubrication. You see, vaginal lubrication relies on healthy blood flow. Blood pressure pushes fluid from the capillaries through intracellular gap junctions located between epithelial cells in the vagina.
Adequate pelvic blood flow depends on nitric oxide, which is produced in capillary endothelial in response to sexual stimulation. This produces a chain of reactions that leads to increased lubrication of the vagina and pleasurable sexual intercourse.
Even though various factors can lead to vaginal lubrication, problems with nitric oxide are crucial. Without adequate nitric oxide levels, a woman may experience vaginal dryness. Not only does it lead to painful intercourse, but it also reduces libido in women.
That’s why the most significant benefit of nitric oxide sexually for women is improved vaginal lubrication.
5) Increased testosterone production
As men age, their testosterone levels begin to drop. Some factors speed up this process, though. These include testicular injury or infection, smoking, drinking alcohol, some medications, a sedentary lifestyle, and being overweight or obese.
When testosterone levels are low, men experience a multitude of symptoms. Some of these include low libido. Men with low testosterone are also more likely to have erectile dysfunction.
An important benefit of nitric oxide sexually is the increased production of testosterone. Nitric oxide increases the secretion of gonadotropin, which is an initial hormone step in the production of testosterone.
With higher testosterone, men experience improvements in sexual function.
How to get nitric oxide in your diet
Indeed, nitric oxide can improve your sexual performance in more ways than one. While the body produces nitric oxide, it’s still helpful to obtain it through diet.
Some of the best foods that increase nitric oxide levels in the body include:
- Beets – abundant in nitrates, which the body converts to NO.
- Meat – a wonderful source of coenzyme Q10, which preserves nitric oxide in the body.
- Citrus fruits – are abundant in vitamin C, which increases the bioavailability of nitric oxide and maximizes its absorption in the body.
- Garlic – boosts NO by activating nitric oxide synthase, an enzyme that supports the conversion of NO from l-arginine.
- Leafy greens – rich in nitrates.
- Dark chocolate –abundant in flavanols, which promote optimal levels of nitric oxide.
- Pomegranate – its juice protects nitric oxide from oxidative damage.
- Nuts and seeds – high in arginine, which is crucial for producing nitric oxide.
- Watermelon – a rich source of l-citrulline, also vital for NO production.
Besides dietary modifications, you can boost nitric oxide levels by taking dietary supplements. The most important supplements for this purpose are l-arginine and l-citrulline. These supplements promote the body’s production of nitric oxide. For healthy NO levels, you may also want to modify your lifestyle and exercise regularly.
Even though nitric oxide is a well-known term, it is largely misunderstood. Nitric oxide acts as a vasodilator.
Widening blood vessels supports healthy blood flow and may aid the management of high blood pressure or improve heart health.
But nitric oxide also has many benefits sexually. Nitric oxide improves erectile function, ejaculatory function, libido, vaginal lubrication, and testosterone levels.
All these effects lead to more frequent sexual intercourse, improved performance, and a major confidence boost. You can get enough NO through diet, or you can use dietary supplements.