Reducing Your Risk of Erectile Dysfunction (Impotence)
by Ricker Polsdorfer, MD
A risk factor increases your chance of getting a disease. Some risk factors can be avoided, such as smoking. There are other risk factors you may have no control over, such as your genetic make-up. If you have a risk factor for erectile dysfunction that you can and do change, you may reduce your risk.
To reduce your risk of becoming impotent:
Some cases of erectile dysfunction are due to chronic diseases of the lungs, liver, kidneys, heart, nerves, arteries, veins, or endocrine system. With your physician’s help, you can manage conditions that could affect your ability to have an erection, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, low testosterone, and depression.
If you suspect that your medications may be the problem, ask your doctor about changing or adjusting them. Medications for the following conditions are most commonly associated with erectile dysfunction as a side effect:
Eat a healthful diet, one that is low in saturated fat, sugars, and simple carbohydrates, and high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and omega-3 fatty acids. Maintain a healthy weight.
Begin and stick to a regular exercise plan. Choose exercises you enjoy and will make a regular part of your day. Strive to maintain an exercise program that keeps you fit and at a healthy weight. For many people, this includes walking or participating in an aerobic activity for 30 minutes a day. Exercise also can help you manage stress. Check with your doctor before starting any exercise program.
Tobacco damages blood vessels, including penile arteries. Talk to your doctor about how you can successfully quit smoking.
Psychological factors, such as stress, anxiety, and depression, can affect sexual function and be the primary cause in many men. Counseling can help you manage or prevent these emotions and conflicts. Couples counseling may also be helpful.
Erectile dysfunction. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
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Accessed January 29, 2021.
Preventing erectile dysfunction. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/urologic-diseases/erectile-dysfunction/prevention. Accessed January 29, 2021.
Last reviewed March 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Adrienne Carmack, MD
Last Updated: 1/29/2021
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