Erectile dysfunction (ED) is when you have trouble getting and keeping an erection that is firm enough to have sex. There are many reasons you may develop ED, including issues with blood flow or hormones. You may also develop ED if you have a chronic health condition, like heart disease or diabetes.
Stress and anxiety can make matters worse. While ED isn’t always a reason for concern for your overall health, you may want to try some lifestyle changes to see if they help before seeking medication.
Sildenafil (Viagra) is often used to treat ED. But the side effects of this medication can make taking it unpleasant. Yoga, on the other hand, is a drug-free way to relax the body and mind. There’s a growing body of research to suggest that yoga can help with ED.
For example, a group of 65 men took part in a study on yoga and male sex function. These men — who had an average age of 40 — saw a “significant improvement” in sexual scores after just 12 weeks of yoga practice.
These sexual scores didn’t just involve erections either. The men saw improvement in many areas of their sex lives, including “desire, intercourse satisfaction, performance, confidence, partner synchronization … ejaculatory control, [and] orgasm.”
Poses to try
These yoga poses promote relaxation and blood flow, which can help manage ED.
This posture is also known as a seated forward bend. It can help relax pelvic muscles that are tense from sitting for long periods of time and promote better blood flow. This pose also works to calm you and relieve mild depression.
How to do it:
- Start by sitting on your yoga mat with your legs out in front of you. You may want to use a folded blanket for added support. Rock your body slightly to the left and use your hand to pull the right sit bone (the bones that makes up your bottom) away. Repeat on the other side.
- Inhale, keeping your upper body long. Lean forward and lengthen your tailbone as you reach the floor. If you can, grab your feet with your hands as you fully extend your elbows. You can also use a yoga strap around your feet for assistance with this stretch.
Hold this pose for between one and three minutes. Focus on your breath and see if you can slowly relax and release your body. In time, you may be able to reach your hands beyond your feet — but don’t force yourself before you’re ready.
Also known as standing forward bend, uttanasana is a staple in many yoga routines. This intense stretch may help you with anxiety. Some say it even helps with infertility while also improving digestion and stimulating the organs in the abdomen.
How to do it:
- Stand at the head of your mat with your hands on your hips. As your exhale, bend your torso forward hinging from your hips. Be sure to focus on lengthening your torso forward versus simply folding over.
- Bring your fingers to the floor in front of your feet. Try your best to keep your knees straight, but if you’re new to this pose, a soft bend in the knee is OK. If you cannot reach your feet with your hands, cross your forearms and hold onto your elbows.
- Try to relax into this pose for between 30 seconds and a full minute. When you inhale, try to lift your torso and lengthen your body a bit more. When you exhale, try to relax deeper into the stretch. Check to see if your head and neck are relaxed by nodding “yes” and “no” while in the position.
You may have heard this yoga move referred to as Bound Angle Pose or even Butterfly Pose. Along with stretching the inner thighs and groin, it stimulates the prostate gland along with the bladder, the kidneys, and the organs in the abdomen.
How to do it:
- Start by sitting on your mat with your legs extended in front of you. You may also raise your pelvis up onto a blanket for more comfort. Bend your knees as you exhale, pulling your heels in toward your pelvis one at a time. Then drop your knees to either side and press the bottoms of your feet together.
- Use your first and second fingers to grab your big toes or grab your ankles or shins with your hands. Alternatively, you can bring your arms behind you with your fingers pointing out toward the wall behind you.
- Try staying in this pose for anywhere from 1 to 5 minutes. As you inhale and exhale, work on lengthening your torso. It may help to pretend someone is pulling upward on a string attached to the top of your head.
Head-to-knee pose is best performed on an empty stomach. It helps with your flexibility, especially in the hamstring muscles, back, thighs, and hips. It also helps with blood flow in the lower abdomen and groin. Along with the physical benefits, it can be a great stress reliever.
How to do it:
- Sit on your mat with your legs extended out in front of you. As you inhale, bend one of your knees and bring your heel toward your pelvis. Rest your sole against your thigh and then release your knee toward the floor. If your knee doesn’t reach the floor, you can use a blanket to support it.
- Inhale and raise both of your hands up. Exhale and hinge forward — keeping a lengthened spine — over your extended leg. Try to bring your chin to your knee and even clasp your hands around your foot.
- Try staying in this pose for anywhere from 1 to 3 minutes. Then raise up with your arms extended overhead as your inhale and return to sitting. Repeat this pose on the other side for balance in your body.
Also known as Bow Pose, this powerful floor move helps to stimulate the reproductive organs and get the blood moving to these areas. It also helps to stretch all the muscles in the front of your body, including the thighs and groin. Bow Pose may even help with your overall posture.
How to do it:
- Lay facedown on your mat on your stomach. Your feet should be hip-width apart and your arms should be at your sides.
- Raise your legs behind you as you simultaneously raise your upper body and reach for your ankles with your hands. Once you have a good grasp, pull your legs up and back while keeping your chest off the floor. Keep steady contact with the floor through your pelvis.
- Try staying in this pose for 20 to 30 seconds. Take a few deep breaths after you exhale and release from this pose. Repeat a few more times as feels good to you.
More and more studies are showing that yoga may help with erectile dysfunction. If you’re a beginner to yoga, consider calling around to find a class at your local studio. Regularly completing a whole routine — no matter the poses — can help with relaxation, flexibility, and balance. A yoga teacher can help you perfect your form with different poses so you’ll get the maximum benefit from your practice.
Can’t find a class in your area? Consider trying this free yoga sequence by the Dutch Smiling Yogi specifically for erectile dysfunction. It includes some of the poses above along with many others to give you a solid, restorative workout that may also help you with ED.