Erectile dysfunction is a treatable sexual problem that can cause a great amount ofanxiety and frustration both in the bedroom and out. However, the good news is that this challenge can be approached from several angles, including conventional medicine, alternative/complementary options, and lifestyle changes.
Too often, men and their partners believe the conventional medicine road—which typically includes the use of erectile dysfunction drugs such as Viagra and Cialis–is the only one to follow. Yet there is much you can accomplish by making lifestyle modifications. In fact, the beauty of choosing to alter your lifestyle not only may resolve your erectile dysfunction challenge; it also can improve your health overall. So let’s get started!
If your physical sessions in the bedroom are suffering, it’s surely time to turn to exercise elsewhere. Physical exercise works in a number of ways to not only help prevent erectile function difficulties but to also enhance sexual performance. For example, exercise can benefit a man’s ability to have and maintain an erection in two ways: it boosts blood circulation to the penis and improves blood pressure by elevating the level of nitric oxide in the blood vessels. This latter feature is the same thing Viagra does, but you can get similar results without the medication!
Yet another benefit of exercise is its ability to help boost the natural production of the male hormone testosterone. Since a deficiency of testosterone can result in erectile dysfunction, you and your doctor should consider the possibility that you have abnormally low levels of this hormone. If that is the case, exercise is one way to help raise those levels. You can also incorporate Kegel exercises into your daily routine to improve erectile function!
The foods you choose to eat every day can directly put a damper on your ability to attain and maintain an erection. Generally, foods that can benefit erectile function include fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy fats (e.g., monounsaturated, omega-3), whole grains, plant protein rather than animal protein (e.g., beans, legumes, fermented soy), and a limited amount of nonfat dairy and fish.
Another factor intimately related to diet and exercise is weight. Men who are overweight or obese face a significantly greater risk of developing erectile dysfunction and having abnormally low levels of testosterone than do men who carry a normal weight for their height. Therefore, a combination of a healthful diet and consistent exercise can increase the chance you will avoid erectile dysfunction.
Poor sleep habits are associated with erectile dysfunction because adequate sleep is necessary to support a healthy level of testosterone. Therefore, if you are losing sleep over having problems with your ability to achieve an erection, taking steps to improve your sleep may end up solving your erectile dysfunction
A specific sleep problem closely related to erectile dysfunction is obstructive sleep apnea. In fact, about half of men who have obstructive sleep apnea also experience ED. Men who suspect sleep apnea may be a factor in their erectile issues should talk to their doctor. Even if poor sleep patterns are not the only factor in your erectile dysfunction (and often they are not), improving your shut-eye time can be a significant contributing factor and enhance overall health as well.
Men who smoke don’t only clog up their lungs; they also hinder blood flow, and that includes circulation to the penis. Quite simply, smoking can constrict the blood vessels. In a new meta-analysis, the investigators evaluated the findings from 10 studies that involved more than 50,000 men. They concluded that “there is a positive dose-response association between quantity and duration of smoking and risk of ED.”
The link between alcohol use and erectile dysfunction has to do with the impact of the beverages on the central nervous system (CNS). Specifically, alcohol suppresses the CNS, which is responsible for releasing nitric oxide. This chemical is critical for obtaining and maintaining an erection. Therefore, too much alcohol can interrupt the production of nitric oxide and result in erectile dysfunction.
Typically, the suggested rate of alcohol consumption for men is no more than two drinks daily. However, if erectile dysfunction is an issue in your life, then it may be time to switch to nonalcoholic beverages and incorporate other lifestyle changes as well to help reverse the erectile challenge.