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Lifestyle Changes to Manage Erectile Dysfunction (Impotence)
by Ricker Polsdorfer, MD
The following lifestyle changes may help you during treatment for erectile dysfunction:
Some cases of erectile dysfunction are due to chronic diseases of the lungs, liver, kidneys, heart, nerves, arteries, or veins. With your doctor’s help, you can manage conditions that could affect your ability to have an erection, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, 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. This will also help you to 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 per day. Exercise also can help you manage stress. Check with your doctor before starting any exercise program.
For more information about beginning an exercise program, click here.
Excessive tobacco use can also damage penile arteries. Quitting smoking reduces your risk of erectile dysfunction.
For information about quitting smoking, click here.
Chronic use of alcohol, marijuana, or other drugs, like cocaine, speed, or heroin, often causes erectile dysfunction, along with decreased sexual drive.
Psychological factors, such as stress, anxiety, and depression, account for 10%-15% of erectile dysfunction cases. Counseling can help you manage or prevent these emotions and interpersonal conflict. You may also want to try couples counseling.
Dealing with erectile dysfunction can be hard on a relationship. Sexual intercourse is a means of creating intimacy. There are other ways to create this level of intimacy with your partner. Explore different things you can do together to bring you closer, such as taking a bath, sharing a candlelit dinner, taking a long walk, holding each other in bed, and talking and listening. Work at keeping the lines of communication open.
Cleveland Clinic. Treating erectile dysfunction: lifestyle changes. Cleveland Clinic website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated February 11, 2014. Accessed March 8, 2016.
Erectile dysfunction. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.... Updated February 29, 2016. Accessed October 4, 2016.
Meldrum DR, Gambone, JC, et al. Lifestyle and metabolic approaches to maximizing erectile and vascular health. Int J Impot Res. 2012 Mar-Apr;24(2):61-68.
Last reviewed March 2017 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Adrienne Carmack, MD
Last Updated: 3/15/2015
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