Shining some light on erectile dysfunction

Move over, Viagra. Make way for solar power -- because new research shows how the ultraviolet rays of our nearest star can ignite a blood-pumping process that can lead directly to stronger, firmer erections.

Yes, ultraviolet light. THAT ultraviolet light -- the supposedly dangerous kind you've been (wrongly) told to avoid.

Well, you won't want to avoid it now, because the new study confirms that a little UV exposure leads to a dip in blood pressure levels that can last for an hour or more afterward.

Now, you know me. I don't give a hoot about the ups and downs of blood pressure. Heck, you're better off with tea-leaf readings than BP readings most of the time.

At least the tea contains heart-healthy antioxidants!

But I digress. What's important here is not the fact that BP levels fell so much as WHY they fell. And it's not simply because light and warmth makes you feel calm and relaxed, leading to reduced blood pressure.

Nope... a control group got all of that -- all the same light and heat, but with the ultraviolet wavelengths filtered out -- and didn't see those same changes in their BP levels.

So that means there's something else at work here. The researchers believe ultraviolet light stimulates the production of nitric oxide in the body, and nitric oxide improves the flow of blood.

This is great for the heart, of course, but it is also absolutely essential to the penis. In fact, nitric oxide is so critical to achieving and maintaining erections that prescription penis pills actually target nitric oxide pathways.

(It is not coincidental that Viagra began its life as a potential hypertension medication. But to find out how some guys end up becoming dependent on the stuff click here.)

Now, to be clear as day on this, the new study didn't look directly at the effect of sunlight on erectile function, but feel free to pick up where the researchers left off and conduct your own "study."

Just be mindful of public decency laws.