Erectile dysfunction can be deeply frustrating and have a negative impact on both relationships and self confidence. The good news is that there are many ways to treat erectile dysfunction, from simple lifestyle changes to medication to home remedies.
Causes of Erectile Dysfunction
A range of causes of ED can be broadly classified into two categories—physical and mental (psychological). According to the BBC Health, about 70 percent of impotence cases have medical causes and about 30 percent have psychological causes.
Sometimes a combination of physical and psychological issues causes erectile dysfunction. For instance, a minor physical problem that slows your sexual response may cause anxiety about maintaining an erection. The resulting anxiety can lead to or worsen erectile dysfunction.
Physical Causes of Erectile Dysfunction
In most cases, erectile dysfunction is caused by something physical. Common causes include:
- Heart disease.
- Clogged blood vessels (atherosclerosis).
- High cholesterol.
- High blood pressure.
- Metabolic syndrome, a condition involving increased blood pressure, high insulin levels, body fat around the waist and high cholesterol.
- Parkinson’s disease.
- Multiple sclerosis.
- Low testosterone.
- Peyronie’s disease, development of scar tissue inside the penis.
- Certain prescription medications.
- Tobacco use.
- Alcoholism and other forms of substance abuse.
- Treatments for prostate cancer or enlarged prostate.
- Surgeries or injuries that affect the pelvic area or spinal cord.
Psychological Causes of Erectile Dysfunction
The brain plays a key role in triggering the series of physical events that cause an erection, starting with feelings of sexual excitement. A number of things can interfere with sexual feelings and cause or worsen erectile dysfunction. These include:
- Depression, anxiety or other mental health conditions.
- Relationship problems due to stress, poor communication or other concerns.
Erectile Dysfunction and Lifestyle Changes
Smoking can make ED worse, since it interferes with your circulatory system and is linked to diseases that cause ED. If you’re having trouble sustaining an erection, now might be the time to give up the cigarettes for good.
- If quitting doesn’t seem possible right now, cut back as much as you can. If you can limit your smoking to a few cigarettes a day, that’s better than smoking a pack.
Make it a priority to get outside or go to the gym and walk, run, swim, bike, or do strength training at least 4 times a week. According to a study conducted by Harvard, walking 30 minutes a day caused a 41% drop in risk for ED. Getting regular exercise aids circulation, getting your blood pumping through your entire body. When it’s time to sustain an erection, better circulation is key.
- Choose an activity you enjoy. Exercising should be fun, not a chore.
- Schedule regular exercise into your daily routine. Add a variety of exercises so that you do not get bored. Look into scheduled exercise classes at your local community center.
- Exercise does not have to put a strain on your wallet. Avoid buying expensive equipment or health club memberships unless you are certain you will use them regularly.
- Stick with it. If you exercise regularly, it will soon become part of your lifestyle.
Alcohol is another substance that has a huge impact on erections. After a few drinks, many men of all ages find it much more difficult to stay hard.
Keep Your Weight Down
Larger waistlines are associated with higher rates of ED. Putting in the work to slim down can lead to huge improvements in the bedroom. Make sure you’re eating a healthy diet loaded with plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats.
- Avoid processed foods and foods made with refined sugars and flours.
- Replace high-calorie drinks with water or unsweetened tea.
- Eat healthy snacks like nuts, carrots and apples instead of reaching for sugar-laden power bars or fast food.
Exercise Your Pelvic Floor
The pelvic floor helps the penis stay hard during erections by pressing on a vein that keeps blood from leaving until the erection is over. Men who exercise their pelvic floor have better results than those who rely solely on lifestyle changes to correct erectile dysfunction. So how do you strengthen this internal muscle? Kegel exercises.
- To find your pelvic floor, tighten the muscles you’d need to tighten to stop your urine flow.
- Tighten and release the muscle 8 times, then rest and do it 8 more times. Continue until you’ve done 3 or 4 sets of 8.
- Do Kegels every day at least once a day.
Home Remedies for Erectile Dysfunction
Almonds are considered a great aphrodisiac and people have been using it for sexual health for thousands of years. Being high in vitamin E, almonds promote healthy blood flow and circulation in the body. This is essential for a healthy sex life. Also, almonds are rich in zinc, manganese and copper, which are essential for sexual potency.
- Mix one tablespoon of powdered almond in a glass of warm milk. Drink this daily before you go to bed.
- Alternatively, soak a handful of almonds in water for a few hours. Eat these almonds daily, 30 minutes before you go to bed.
Try either of these remedies for one month to notice a difference in your condition.
Chinese herbalists consider carrots a good remedy for treating ED due to their aphrodisiac qualities. Plus, carrots have beta-carotene that increases sexual stamina.
- Blend three medium-size carrots, three celery stalks, half of a medium-size beetroot and one to two garlic cloves in a juicer. Drink a glass of this juice once or twice daily.
- Drinking a glass of warm milk along with two tablespoons of grated carrot is another option.
- Eating salads including raw carrots daily can also help.
Some studies show that watermelon may have effects on erectile dysfunction that are similar to the ED drug Viagra and may also increase sexual desire. Watermelon is rich in beneficial ingredients known as phytonutrients. Phytonutrients are also antioxidants. One of their benefits is that they relax the blood vessels that supply an erection. Although watermelon is 92 percent water, the other 8 percent may work wonders for your heart and your sexual enjoyment.
According to herbalists, ginger is another good remedy. It has aphrodisiac properties that help relieve impotency and premature ejaculation. Plus, the active compounds in ginger like gingerol, shogaol and zingiberene stimulate blood circulation.
- Mix one-half teaspoon of ginger juice with one soft-boiled egg and one tablespoon of honey. Eat this mixture once daily before going to bed for a month.
- Another option is to prepare a mixture of two teaspoons each of ginger paste and honey. Have it three times daily for one to two months.
- You can also drink two to three cups of ginger tea daily.
Onions also contain aphrodisiac qualities. They can enhance sexual health and improve male libido. Plus, they help treat involuntary loss of semen during sleep or other times.
- Slice one to two large white onions. Fry the slices in clarified butter on low flame until they turn brown. Eat them with one tablespoon of honey daily before having your dinner.
- Alternatively, finely chop two large onions and steep them in two cups of warm water for 10 minutes. Drink half a cup of this liquid three times daily for one month.
Korean Red Ginseng
Korean red ginseng, also known as Asian ginseng or Chinese ginseng, can also be very effective for treating ED.
In a study published in the Journal of Urology, 45 men suffering from erectile dysfunction were given either Korean red ginseng or a placebo. Those who were given 900 milligrams of Korean red ginseng supplement three times daily for eight weeks noticed improvement in their symptoms.
The recommended dosage for Korean red ginseng is between 600 and 1,000 mg three times daily. It is best to discuss with your doctor before taking this supplement as it can interact with other drugs and may cause allergic reactions.
Daily consumption of antioxidant-rich pomegranate can protect men against erectile dysfunction. It aids blood circulation and also helps reduce stress. Plus, it helps increase the nitrite oxide level in the body which in turn increases blood circulation.
- Drink a glass of pomegranate juice daily.
- You can also take pomegranate supplements. Consult your doctor before taking supplements.
L-arginine is an amino acid that increases nitric oxide levels in the body. Nitric oxide increases blood circulation and facilitates erections by dilating blood vessels in the penis.
According to a 1999 study published in the British Journal of Urology International, men with erectile dysfunction who took 5 grams of L-arginine daily noticed huge improvements in sexual function.
- Eat protein-rich foods like meat, chicken, fish, peas, and nuts and seeds that contain L-arginine in high amounts.
- You can also take L-arginine supplements after consulting your doctor.
Communicate with Your Partner
Do you feel comfortable and accepted when it comes to your sexual performance? If you’re worried about meeting your partner’s too-high expectations or living up to some kind of standard, it will be harder to maintain an erection – it’s called performance anxiety. If you think your partner’s judgement might be hindering your ability to have satisfying sex, you need to communicate your needs and find ways to make your sexual environment more inviting.
Remove Stressors from Your Life
Anxiety is one of the biggest culprits when it comes to ED. If you can find a way to destress, you’ll be more likely to maintain erections. Think about the biggest sources of stress in your life right now. What can you do to give yourself a break?
- If your schedule is packed from morning til night, think about what you can quit to give yourself more down time.
- Turn off your electronics at least an hour before bed. You’ll get better sleep, which is essential to destressing.
- Spend more time outside. Getting fresh air and being around nature is a great way to calm anxiety.
Learn More About Sex
If you have deep-rooted anxieties or guilt related to sex, these negative emotions might be causing your ED. Learning more about sex can be a good way to feel more comfortable with your body and better understand your needs in bed. Read up on sex techniques or take a sex positive workshop as a way to open your mind to new possibilities and increase your comfort level.
Do you find yourself getting distracted by worries instead of living in the moment during sex? Mindfulness is the act of being completely in the present, both physically and mentally. Clear your mind and focus on the sensations your body is feeling during sex.
- If sex has become routine and understimulating, mix things up by adding new scents, textures, and sounds to the mix. For example, use massage oil or put on some music that gets you and your partner in the mood.
Medications and Therapies for Erectile Dysfunction
Take an ED Drug
Viagra and similar drugs can help men maintain erections for several hours at a time. They work by enhancing the effect of nitric oxide, which the body produces naturally to relax and increase blood flow to the penis. If you’re interested in taking a drug specifically geared toward treating ED, talk with your doctor about getting a prescription.
- It is important to treat the underlying problem that might be causing ED, rather than relying on medication alone to deal with the issue.
- ED medications might not work, or might be dangerous to take, if you are taking certain other medications or have had a stroke or heart disease.
Look into Testosterone Replacement Therapy
If your doctor determines that your ED is being caused by low levels of testosterone, then testosterone replacement therapy may be the right solution for you. Talk with your doctor about starting a program.
Consider Injections or Suppositories
If you’d prefer not to take medication, it is possible use either an injection or suppository to administer alprostadil into the penis just before you want to have an erection. Side effects can include pain and the accumulation of fibrous tissue in the penis.
Either inflatable or semi-rigid implants are placed in the penis, enabling you to have greater control over erections. Since implants can cause infections, doctors usually advise against them unless all the other methods have failed.
Try a Penis Pump
This device is a hollow tube with a hand pump. The tube is placed on the penis and the pump is used to create an erection. A ring is placed a the base of the penis to keep the blood from flowing out. If you’re interested in trying a pump, talk with your doctor about which model is right for your needs.
- Remember to speak with your doctor about any drug before taking it.
- REAL Viagra can only be obtained by a prescription from your doctor. Don’t fall for the ads on the Internet or in newspapers selling Viagra. Those are counterfeit pills and illegal. They may even be harmful because you do not know what is in them.