Erectile Dysfunction and Lifestyle changes
Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a common challenge for many men, regardless of their age. As many systems, such as vascular, hormonal, and emotional, influence erection, erectile dysfunction may be caused by many factors, including medications, a health condition, or emotional problems.
Unattended ED can cause complications, such as low self-esteem, relationship problems, an unsatisfactory sex life, and high anxiety. It may also be difficult for you to get your partner pregnant.
But the good news is that treating the underlying cause and making lifestyle changes may help in reversing ED. So, though ED treatment options may include surgery and medication, there are also natural remedies that may help.
Studies have shown that men with Erectile Dysfunction (ED) can reverse their condition with healthy lifestyle changes, such as weight loss, adequate sleep, exercise, and a varied diet. It is also seen that even if you need medications to manage ED, they are more effective if you follow these lifestyle modifications.
It is a good idea to talk to your doctor before you try natural remedies or lifestyle changes.
Table of Contents
Chemistry of Erection
Before moving ahead, let us first understand how lifestyle factors can affect erection.
A chemical molecule, Nitric Oxide, plays a crucial role in getting and maintaining an erection. Nitric Oxide (NO) signals muscles of blood vessels to relax and increase blood flow to the penis that supports its erection.
However, NO is an unstable molecule and breaks down instantly with certain molecules. The stability and production of NO depend on antioxidants that protect it, giving it the time to deliver its effect before breaking down.
Surprisingly, almost every aspect of your lifestyle influences the function and production of NO as well as the production of antioxidants to protect it.
Bad habits and good habits
Habits that boost the production of antioxidants are good for ED, while those that lower the production of antioxidants are bad.
Here are some common examples:
- Excessive drinking
- Relationship issues
- Poor diet
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Psychological issues
- Regular exercise
- Eating a healthy diet
- Quit smoking
- Keeping medical conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease under control
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Finding ways to manage or reduce stress
- Seeking help for anxiety or depression
You should also undergo regular checkups as advised by your physician, such as cholesterol levels and blood pressure. This will help your doctor with early diagnosis and treatment of an underlying condition that could cause ED.
Read more about causes of erectile dysfunction (ED) here.
Best diet to avoid ED
You may be aware that pumps, pills, and surgeries work for erectile dysfunction. But the same goes with diet.
Here are some tips to prevent ED.
Studies have shown that the Mediterranean diet lowers the risk of ED and improves sexual function.
You can have the following food items:
- Whole grains
- Olive oil
Flavonoids are a group of plant compounds found in vegetables and fruits. These compounds can help to improve blood pressure and endothelial function. Studies have shown that men having flavonoids may have a 19% lesser risk of having ED.
Some food items rich in flavonoids are:
- Citrus products
- Red wine
L-arginine is an amino acid present in protein-rich foods. Your body uses L-arginine to make nitric oxide that increases blood flow to the penis. Research has also proven that L-arginine levels are lower in men with ED as compared to the general population.
Some L-arginine rich foods are:
- Red meat
- Dairy products
They are compounds present in certain foods that improve nitric oxide levels. Studies have also shown that nitrates may also lower inflammation and blood pressure.
Some food items that have high nitrate levels are:
- Chinese cabbage
Erectile dysfunction exercises
Certain exercises improve pelvic muscles, testosterone levels, antioxidants levels, and lower stress levels and thus aid in preventing or managing ED.
They are simple yet effective exercises that strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. To identify your pelvic floor muscles, stop peeing midstream. The muscles you use to control urination are your pelvic floor muscles.
To perform the Kegel exercise, contract your pelvic floor muscles for three seconds and release them. You can repeat them 10-20 times three times a day.
Studies have shown that men doing Kegel exercises saw an improvement in penile function after three months as compared to those who did not. Besides, 40% of the men doing Kegel exercise gain normal erectile function after six months.
Moderate to intense aerobic exercise not only improves your overall health but also improves blood flow, helping with ED. Some examples of aerobic exercises include swimming, running, and jogging.
Various studies have shown that 160 minutes of weekly aerobic exercise for six months may decrease erectile problems. It is also seen that testosterone levels negatively correlate with abdominal and body fat. Exercise may thus help in improving testosterone levels by reducing your body fat.
If you are not exercising currently, it is a good idea to consult your doctor before starting it. If you have an underlying condition, such as heart disease and asthma, vigorous activity may aggravate it.
Yoga is increasingly becoming famous and for the right reasons. It helps in lowering your stress and anxiety levels, which are contributing factors for ED. Studies have shown that doing yoga for 12 weeks improves your sexual function and ease ED symptoms.
Some asanas that help in ED are:
- Janu Sirsasana
- Baddha Konasana
If you are a beginner to yoga, it is recommended to perform yoga poses under the guidance of a professional.
Natural treatments for ED
Along with dietary modifications and exercises, certain natural treatments are effective for ED.
Supplements and Herbs
According to some studies, the following herbs and supplements may be useful for ED:
- Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA)
- Horny goat weed
Many herbs and supplements are not regulated and may contain additional ingredients not mentioned on their labels. It is thus a good idea to consult your doctor before buying or starting supplements and herbs.
Besides, certain herbs such as Yohimbe may cause severe side-effects in certain individuals.
It is a traditional Chinese medicine where a therapist inserts needles into the skin at acupoints (specific skin locations). This treatment is believed to work through nerve stimulation, which influences the release of neurotransmitters. Studies have shown that acupuncture may be useful in treating psychological ED.
Prostatic massage, a type of massage therapy, may be effective for ED. This type of massage is used in combination with other types of treatment. During a prostatic massage, the practitioner will massage the tissues around your groin to promote blood flow to your penis. The duration and frequency of prostate massage depend on your symptoms.
Some risk factors that increase the risk of ED are:
- Increasing age
- Injuries to the pelvic area
- Surgery on the pelvic area
- Certain medications, such as antidepressants
- Health disorders such as diabetes or cardiovascular disorders
- Mental health conditions such as depression or anxiety
- Being overweight
Is lack of morning erection a concern
Erections often occur during the sleep stage called rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. While the lack of morning erection may be a symptom of ED, it does not necessarily indicate a concern.
One reason for not having a morning erection is not coming out of REM sleep at that time. Besides, men with psychological cause for erectile dysfunction may still have erectile dysfunction as they are physically able to get them. However, if you face a problem in getting an erection at other times, you should consult a doctor, and they will help you diagnose the same.
Study data suggest that 3 million Canadian men over the age of 40 have erectile dysfunction (ED). It is estimated that ED affects 10% more men in each decade of life. However, ED can also affect young men.
Studies suggest that about 50% of Canadian men above 40 years of age have ED at some point in time, but only a few seek treatment.
A stronger correlation between drug use, smoking, and ED is seen in young men when compared to older men. While the risk of ED increases with age, it can occur in anyone. Overall, the healthier you are, the better is your sexual function.
In many cases, you can reverse ED with lifestyle changes. Besides, many medications, vacuum pumps, and treatments may help you to manage ED temporarily. Lifestyle factors include maintaining adequate weight, consuming a healthy diet, exercising, and avoiding all activities that may lower antioxidants, such as smoking.
Your treatment plan depends on various factors, including underlying health conditions and the severity of ED. Your doctor will evaluate your condition and explains the pros and cons associated with each treatment type.
It is essential to understand that ED is a common condition. If you are experiencing ED symptoms, you should discuss with your doctor as soon as possible, even if you are embarrassed. They will help you to find the underlying cause and initiate a treatment plan.
Read more about different types erectile dysfunction (ED) here.