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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:
Erectile dysfunction may be caused by 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 have side effects that are associated with erectile dysfunction:
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 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.
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. It is important to keep the lines of communication open.
Diagnosis of 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/diagnosis. Updated July 2017. Accessed March 9, 2018.
Erectile dysfunction. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.... Updated December 15, 2017. Accessed March 9, 2018.
Erectile dysfuntion. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/genitourinary-disorders/male-sexual-dysfunction/erectile-dysfunction. Updated June 2017. Accessed March 9, 2018.
How is ED diagnosed? Urology Care Foundation website. Available at:
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Accessed March 9, 2018.
Rew KT, Heidelbaugh JJ. Erectile dysfunction. Am Fam Physician. 2016;94(10):820-827.
Last reviewed March 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Adrienne Carmack, MD
Last Updated: 3/15/2015
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