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Reducing Your Risk of Erectile Dysfunction (Impotence)

A risk factor increases your chance of getting a disease. Some risk factors can be avoided, such as smoking. 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:

Manage Medical Conditions

Some cases of erectile dysfunction are due to chronic diseases of the lungs, liver, kidneys, heart, nerves, arteries, or veins. 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, and depression.

Talk to Your Doctor About Medications

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:

Maintain a Healthful Diet, Healthy Weight, and Exercise Program

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.

Quit Smoking

Tobacco damages blood vessels, including penile arteries. Talk to your doctor about how you can successfully quit smoking.

Avoid Alcohol and Drugs

Excessive use of alcohol or other drugs such as cocaine, amphetamines, marijuana, or opioids often cause a decrease in sex drive or erectile dysfunction.


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 Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.... Updated December 15, 2017. Accessed March 9, 2018.
Preventing erectile dysfunction. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at: Updated July 2017. Accessed March 9, 2018.
Last reviewed March 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Adrienne Carmack, MD
Last Updated: 3/15/2015


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This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

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