Many different parts of your body are responsible for helping you achieve and maintain an erection.

Medical conditions are a frequent cause of erectile dysfunction or ED. But sometimes, the cause may be related to lifestyle choices. There are many medical treatments available for ED, but some lifestyle changes can also help you.

Lifestyle risk factors for developing ED

The following risk factors can make it more difficulty for you get or keep an erection. 

  • poor diet
  • smoking
  • sedentary lifestyle
  • excessive drinking
  • stress
  • relationship issues
  • psychological issues

Treating ED with lifestyle changes

Consider the following lifestyle changes to help treat your erectile dysfunction:

Eat a healthy diet

A poor diet can do more than affect your energy level. It can also lead to clogged arteries, diabetes, and heart disease. These are all known risk factors for ED. A heart-healthy diet may improve blood flow throughout the entire body including the penis. Try to cut back on fats and sugars and add more fruits and vegetables to your diet. Achieving a healthy weight may help improve your ED.

Exercise regularly

Adding just 30 minutes of exercise five times per week may improve your health in and out of the bedroom. Exercise helps to reduce stress and increase energy levels. It also improves circulation and helps to keep your arteries and your heart healthy.

Quit smoking

According to one study, men who smoke cigarettes have a significantly higher risk of experiencing erectile dysfunction. People who quit smoking were more likely to have improved symptoms of ED than those who kept smoking.

Deal with stress and relationship issues

Stress of any kind can impact a man’s sexual health and his ability to engage in sex. Resentment and anger in a relationship can also contribute to the inability to get an erection and enjoy satisfying sex. Talk about your problems with your partner, or even a professional. It can have a positive impact on ED.

Have your doctor change your medications

Certain medications such as anti-depressants and specific blood pressure drugs can cause ED. Speak to your doctor about your medications and what options you may have. Sometimes a reduced dose or a change to a different class of drug is all that’s needed to improve sexual function.

Continue to engage in sexual activity

It can be frustrating when you’re experiencing problems achieving erections. However, it’s important to stay sexually active to prevent further problems with ED. Sexual arousal and frequent erections, even if not long-lasting or firm enough, can stimulate blood flow to the penis.

Natural remedies for ED

Along with lifestyle changes, there are natural remedies available for the treatment of ED.  The following are some supplements that have been studied and shown to be safe. They may also be effective in the treatment of ED.


Dehydroepiandrosterone is a hormone that has been shown to help erectile dysfunction. It’s considered safe when taken in low doses. Acne is a possible side effect.


A study of Panax ginseng found it to improve sexual function in men with ED. Insomnia is a common side effect.


There is some evidence that suggests high doses of this amino acid can stimulate blood vessels for better blood flow to the penis. Gastrointestinal side effects such as diarrhea, cramping, and nausea are possible. This natural remedy can’t be taken at the same time as Viagra or similar medications.

Be careful with supplements

Many of the dietary supplements that are labeled as “natural” remedies for ED haven’t been proven to be effective or even safe. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has reported that many of these products have been found to contain sildenafil, the active ingredient in Viagra.

These can prove dangerous to some and should be avoided. Viagra can’t be taken with certain medications, so it’s important to talk to your doctor before taking a medication such as Viagra or a supplement that may contain ingredients similar Viagra.

Speak to your doctor before taking any ED medications, or ED supplements in particular that are said to be all-natural.

You asked, we answered

  • When should you see a doctor for erectile dysfunction symptoms?
  • Erectile dysfunction can be troubling and affect sexual and psychological health. If you are experiencing erectile dysfunction symptoms, you should examine your diet, try to work towards a healthy weight, and seek the guidance of a doctor before starting any medical or supplement treatment. You should especially see a doctor if you have known heart disease, or other vascular disease (such as in the legs) because ED can be a sign of worsening vascular disease.

    - University of Illinois-Chicago, College of Medicine
  • Answers represent the opinions of our medical experts. All content is strictly informational and should not be considered medical advice.