How to Prevent Erectile Dysfunction
Reviewed by Vicky Davis, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Not being able to get it up in the bedroom can be a real...downer.
Erectile Dysfunction may negatively impact sexual and social relationships, self esteem, and can even cause anxiety and depression. Yet, it’s estimated that by 2025, 332 million men worldwide will have ED.
Luckily, there are simple lifestyle changes you can make to help ensure you won’t be one of them.
Read these tips to find out what you can do to help prevent ED now, so it doesn’t rear stop your game later.
First, Let’s Talk About Erections
Not to sound all fifth grade sex ed, but the more you know about how you get an erection, the easier it will be to understand why certain lifestyle modifications can help prevent erectile dysfunction.
When you get an erection, your nervous system sends messages and chemicals to your pelvic area to increase the blood flow to your penis. When something interferes with this system — for example, blocking blood flow — it can make it difficult to get (or keep) an erection.
While it’s often thought that getting older causes ED, this is not exactly true. You may develop ED as you age, but aging does NOT cause ED. Instead, there are certain health conditions that affect blood flow and erectile dysfunction is often a symptom of another, underlying health factor.
Some health factors are out of anyone’s control, such as multiple sclerosis, injuries from prostate cancer, and surgery from bladder cancer.
Other factors such as high blood pressure, being overweight, lack of physical activity, and unhealthy diets, may decrease flow of blood to the genitals, and may be preventable with lifestyle changes.
These Lifestyle Changes May Help Prevent ED
Clinical trials show that when men modify their behavior in ways that help decrease inflammation and increase vascular flow, they reduce sexual dysfunction. Here are some things you can do.
Smoking, even second-hand exposure, is considered a risk factor for ED. (It’s linked to heart and blood vessel disease, which decreases blood flow.) According to one study, a large proportion of men who quit smoking improved their sexual health.
Eat healthy foods
Put down that nugget! Eating a healthy diet helps decrease the risk of diabetes and other metabolic diseases, which are risk factors for ED.
So what does a healthy diet look like? Choose whole grain foods, low-fat dairy, fruits and vegetables, and lean meats. Foods that are high in sodium and fat (especially saturated fat) are a big no-no.
Eating healthy will help prevent diabetes and keep your blood pressure in check, both of which may help prevent ED.
ED treatments, delivered
No matter the treatment plan, the best place to start is somewhere.
Maintain a healthy weight
Studies show that overweight or obese men had an increased probability of developing ED when compared to men within a normal weight range.
For men who are overweight, losing weight will help reduce inflammation, increase testosterone levels, and increase self esteem — all of which may help prevent ED.
Move your body
The more active you are, the better it is for your health.
Even if you don’t need to lose weight, being active is good for your cardiovascular health, and increases the blood flow through your body, including the blood flow to your penis.
Control alcohol consumption
Downing a few may loosen you up, but it definitely won’t help you get it up!
Studies show that chronic and persistent alcohol use is known to induce sexual dysfunction. So if you want to prevent ED, pay attention to how much you’re drinking.
Avoid illegal drugs.
There are a lot of reasons why illegal drugs are bad for your body, but we’re focusing on sexual function (or dysfunction) here — and that’s reason enough to “just say no!”
For example, illegal drugs may prevent you from feeling certain sensations, including getting aroused. They also may mask other psychological, emotional or physical factors that may be causing ED.
What Can I Do If I Already Have ED?
Prevention is important, but what if it’s too late? Even if you already have erectile dysfunction, the lifestyle modifications we discussed may help.
However, there are also many treatments available.
There are many different kinds of ED medications available. These include sildenafil (generic for Viagra®), Viagra®, tadalafil (generic Cialis®), Cialis®, and Stendra® (avanafil). These medications work by relaxing smooth muscles and increasing blood flow in the penis during sexual stimulation.
Erection trouble isn’t always caused by something that’s only physical. Emotions, like anxiety and stress, can also negatively affect your erections.
Seeing a counselor can help you manage your emotional state, so that you can focus on treating the physical causes of ED.
The Hard Truth About Preventing Erectile Dysfunction
While there are many treatment options, living a healthy lifestyle is one of the best ways to help prevent erectile dysfunction. So drink a little less, quit smoking, go for a walk, and order the salad. Your penis and your partner will thank you.