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The Role of Nitric Oxide for Optimal Sexual Function

Loss of sexual function is the cause of much emotional pain and embarrassment as it affects about 43% of all women and about 31% of all men globally. It can occur at any phase of the sexual cycle. If the problem is recurring, it is called sexual dysfunction and it strains the relationship between the couple due to dissatisfaction and embarrassment. One of the causes of sexual dysfunction is deficiency in nitric oxide in the body. Increasing nitric oxide production in the body has been found to improve sexual function.

Symptoms of sexual dysfunction

In women, sexual dysfunction can manifest as inadequate vaginal lubrication before or during intercourse, inability to achieve orgasm, or inability to relax vaginal muscles enough to enable intercourse to take place.

In men, sexual dysfunction can manifest as inability to achieve an erection, inability to maintain an erection during intercourse, premature ejaculation and delayed ejaculation.

Both men and women can experience lack of interest in sex, inability to become aroused and pain during intercourse.

Nitric oxide deficiency is linked to sexual dysfunction

Nitric oxide is a muscle relaxant and vasodilator produced by most cells in the body. It works by relaxing the inner muscles of blood vessels, and enabling blood to flow into the clitoris of the woman or the penis of the man. This is how they achieve sexual arousal and manage to have normal sexual intercourse.

One of the first problems that appear when the body is nitric oxide deficient is sexual dysfunction. In men it shows as erectile dysfunction (inability to have an erection or inability to maintain an erection long enough to complete the sexual act). In women, sexual dysfunction manifests as inability to relax vaginal muscles and inadequate vaginal lubrication before and during sexual intercourse.

What causes NO deficiency?

Deficiency of nitric oxide can be caused by various factors. Some of them are discussed below.

Nutritional deficiency: If you don’t eat enough nitrate producing foods, and enough protein foods that contain L-arginine and L-citrulline, you may experience deficiency of nitric oxide.

Medications: Some antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, tranquilizers, sleeping pills, muscle relaxants, antihistamines, and post-surgery pain medications reduce or destroy the ability to produce nitric oxide. If you are having sexual dysfunction problems, check the medication that you are taking.

Smoking: it's interferes with the body’s ability to nitric oxide. If you are a smoker and you are experiencing sexual dysfunction, consider stopping.

Nitric oxide deficiency affects the health of your blood vessels, letting them harden and reducing blood flow to sexual organs. If you are a man, you may fail to have an erection or to maintain an erection long enough to complete a sexual intercourse. If you are a woman, you may fail to achieve vaginal lubrication or to have an orgasm.

Nitric oxide for optimal sexual function

Nitric oxide is a gas that is produced by nearly every type of cell in the human body. It is one of the most important molecules involved in blood vessel health. It plays a major role in sexual function and its deficiency interferes with sexual function. In men, it is needed for the muscles in the penis to relax so that the chambers inside the organ can fill with blood so that there is an erection. In women, it is needed in order for the muscles and blood vessels around the clitoris to relax and fill with blood during sexual arousal.

Scientists discovered the link between nitric oxide and sexual function long back. That is how they developed erectile dysfunction medication like Viagra and Cialis. Such drugs work by increasing nitric oxide levels in order to stimulate blood flow in sexual organs, helping men to achieve strong erections.

If you have occasional erectile malfunction, and you want firmer erections, you don’t need a prescription. You are most likely taking insufficient L-arginine and L-citrulline, the two amino acids that increase nitric oxide production. There is scientific evidence that taking one or both through nitric oxide-boosting supplements can give you the right erection quality for you to perform adequately.

L-citrulline is an amino acid that you may find in the form of a supplement. It can help improve erectile function by increasing the production of nitric oxide. In one study involving 12 men with mild erectile dysfunction, L-citrulline improved erection hardness in all participants. Even though it was found to be less effective than prescription drugs such as Viagra, which are used to treat erectile dysfunction, it was quite safe and well tolerated. Take 1000-2000 mg of L-citrulline for erectile dysfunction.

L-arginine is an amino acid that is also used as a nitric oxide boosting supplement. Most studies recommend taking 2000-3000 mg of L-arginine two to three times a day. Study results on L-arginine have been mixed but generally they suggest that L-citrulline is a more effective supplement.

Pycnogenol is a plant extract from the pine tree. It is also nitric oxide boosting. Most studies use a dose of 100-200 mg, taken twice daily. In a number of studies involving men with sexual dysfunction, a combination of Pycnogenol and L-arginine improved the sexual function of the men significantly. L-arginine and Pycnogenol also appear to be safe when taken together.

Because of their effectiveness in improving sexual function and athletic performance, NO-boosting supplements are some of the most popular supplement categories.

Take action!

If you have occasional sexual malfunction, don’t wait until you have a big problem. You are probably low in citric oxide and blood flow to your organs is low. You can up your game by simply increasing the production of citric oxide in your body by taking NO-boosting supplements. Alternatively, you can also start eating more nitrate-rich foods, and protein foods rich in L-arginine and L-citrulline. If you take a lot of alcoholic beverages and/or smoke cigarettes, consider stopping or drastically reducing quantities. Through supplementing, dietary changes and lifestyle changes, you can boost nitric oxide production enough to regain your sexual function.



1. Vasodilation and blood flow enhancement: Nitric oxide is a natural vasodilator, meaning it helps to widen blood vessels. This increased blood flow is essential for optimal sexual function, as it helps to maintain erections and increase arousal in both men and women.

2. Erection maintenance: Nitric oxide plays a crucial role in the erectile process by helping to relax the smooth muscles of the penis. This relaxation allows blood to flow into the erectile tissue, leading to an erection.

3. Enhanced clitoral and vaginal sensitivity: Similar to its role in male sexual function, nitric oxide aids in increasing blood flow to the female genital area, enhancing clitoral and vaginal sensitivity and promoting sexual arousal.

4. Support of neurotransmitters: Nitric oxide is involved in the release of certain neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and serotonin, which play key roles in regulating mood, pleasure, and desire.

5. Regulation of sexual response cycle: Nitric oxide helps regulate the sexual response cycle by modulating the balance between vasoconstriction and vasodilation, ensuring proper blood flow throughout the entire sexual experience.

6. Reduced inflammation: Nitric oxide has anti-inflammatory properties that can help to reduce inflammation in the genital area, improving overall sexual health and function.

7. Improved endothelial function: Endothelial cells line the blood vessels and play a crucial role in vascular health. Nitric oxide supports endothelial function, which in turn promotes healthy blood flow and improved sexual function.

8. Antioxidant properties: Nitric oxide possesses antioxidant properties that can protect against oxidative stress, a factor that can negatively impact sexual function.

9. Synergy with other sexual health supplements: Nitric oxide can enhance the effectiveness of other sexual health supplements, such as L-arginine and Pycnogenol, by increasing blood flow and improving overall sexual function.

10. Age-related decline and supplementation: As people age, nitric oxide production tends to decrease, which can lead to a decline in sexual function. Supplementing with nitric oxide precursors, such as L-arginine and L-citrulline, can help to support and restore optimal sexual function.

Nitric Oxide Information

For more everything you need to know about nitric oxide and the role it plays in the human body, check out our comprehensive information page here.

Nitric Oxide Information

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Ron Goedeke MD, BSc Hons MBChB, FNZCAM

Dr. Ron Goedeke, an expert in the domain of functional medicine, dedicates his practice to uncovering the root causes of health issues by focusing on nutrition and supplement-based healing and health optimisation strategies. An esteemed founding member of the New Zealand College of Appearance Medicine, Dr. Goedeke's professional journey has always been aligned with cutting-edge health concepts.

Having been actively involved with the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine since 1999, he brings over two decades of knowledge and experience in the field of anti-aging medicine, making him an eminent figure in this evolving realm of healthcare. Throughout his career, Dr. Goedeke has been steadfast in his commitment to leverage appropriate nutritional guidance and supplementation to encourage optimal health.

This has allowed him to ascend as one of the most trusted authorities in the arena of nutritional medicine in New Zealand. His expertise in the intricate relationship between diet, nutritional supplements, and overall health forms the backbone of his treatment approach, allowing patients to benefit from a balanced and sustainable pathway to improved wellbeing.

Disclaimer: The information provided is for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or qualified healthcare provider with any questions or concerns about your health. Never disregard or delay seeking medical advice because of something you have heard or read on this website.

Last updated on the 1st of May 2023

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