If you think you have ED, a good first step is to talk with your doctor. The treatment you need – ranging from lifestyle changes to medication to surgery – will depend on what’s causing it.
erectile dysfunction (ED) can occur for many reasons. Sometimes it is as simple as the side effect of a particular medication. But for roughly 75% of men, the cause is more complex. ED may result from vascular disease, neurological disease, diabetes, or prostate-related treatments or surgeries.
Whether you currently suffer from ED or are hoping to sidestep this condition, try these tips to overcome ED for better health and a better sex life.
- Start walking. According to one Harvard study, just 30 minutes of walking a day was linked with a 41% drop in risk for ED. Other research suggests that moderate exercise can help restore sexual performance in obese middle-aged men with ED.
- Eat right. In the Massachusetts Male Aging Study, eating a diet rich in natural foods like fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and fish — with fewer red and processed meat and refined grains — decreased the likelihood of ED.
- Pay attention to your vascular health. High blood pressure, high blood sugar, high cholesterol, and high triglycerides can all damage arteries in the heart (causing heart attack), in the brain (causing stroke), and leading to the penis (causing ED). An expanding waistline also contributes. Check with your doctor to find out whether your vascular system — and thus your heart, brain, and penis — is in good shape or needs a tune-up through lifestyle changes and, if necessary, medications.
- Size matters, so get slim and stay slim. A trim waistline is one good defense — a man with a 42-inch waist is 50% more likely to have ED than one with a 32-inch waist. Losing weight can help fight erectile dysfunction, so getting to a healthy weight and staying there is another good strategy for avoiding or fixing ED. Obesity raises risks for vascular disease and diabetes, two major causes of ED. And excess fat interferes with several hormones that may be part of the problem as well.
- Move a muscle, but we’re not talking about your biceps. A strong pelvic floor enhances rigidity during erections and helps keep blood from leaving the penis by pressing on a key vein. In a British trial, three months of twice-daily sets of Kegel exercises (which strengthen these muscles), combined with biofeedback and advice on lifestyle changes — quitting smoking, losing weight, limiting alcohol — worked far better than just advice on lifestyle changes.
Be wary of ‘herbal viagra’
A number of nonprescription products claim to be herbal forms of Viagra. Some of these products contain unknown amounts of ingredients similar to those in prescription medications, which can cause dangerous side effects. Some actually contain the real drug, which should be given by prescription only. Although the food and Drug Administration has banned many of these products, some potentially dangerous erectile dysfunction remedies remain on the market.
What are the treatment options?
Your doctor can help identify the underlying cause and prescribe the appropriate treatment. Treating an underlying condition is the first step to treating your ED.
Treatments your doctor may prescribe if your ED persists include:
- prescription medicine or injections
- penis suppository
- testosterone replacement
- a penis pump (vacuum erection device)
- a penile implant
- blood vessel surgery
Lifestyle treatments include:
- sexual anxiety counseling
- psychological counseling
- maintaining a healthy weight
- reducing tobacco and alcohol use
Men who took 3 grams of maca per day for 8 weeks reported an improvement in sexual desire more often than men who didn’t take it. While maca is generally safe, studies do show elevated blood pressure in people with heart conditions who took 0.6 grams of maca per day. It’s recommended that your daily consumption be less than 1 gram per kilogram, or 1 gram per 2.2 pounds.
Is there a “best cure” for erectile dysfunction?
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