drinking beer and smoking manThough there are medical conditions that can contribute to erectile dysfunction, for many men it is a few poor habits that are to blame. Several prescription medications exist to help treat ED, but sometimes making a few lifestyle changes can make all the difference.

Risk Factors

The following risk factors could be to blame for a man’s inability to achieve or maintain an erection. 

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

Whether it’s smoking or your poor eating and drinking habits leading to decreased blood flow or inactivity and relationships problems interfering with your energy and arousal levels—these can all contribute to ED.

Treating ED with Lifestyle Changes

The following are lifestyle changes that you can make to treat erectile dysfunction.

Eat a healthy diet. A poor diet won’t just affect your energy levels and make you sluggish, it can also lead to clogged arteries, diabetes, and heart disease which are all known risk factors for ED. Cutting back on fats and sugars and adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet for a heart-healthy diet may improve blood flow throughout the entire body including the penis.

Exercise regularly. Adding just 30 minutes of exercise 5 times per week may improve your health in and out of the bedroom. Exercise helps to reduce stress and increase energy levels and also improves circulation and helps to keep your arteries and heart healthy.

Quit smoking. According to a study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, conducted by researchers at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine in New Orleans, Louisiana, men who smoke cigarettes have a significantly higher risk of suffering from erectile dysfunction.

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. Talking out your problems with your partner and even a professional can have a positive impact on ED.

Have your doctor change your medications. Certain medications can cause ED such as those for depression and high blood pressure. Speak to your doctor about your medications and other options. Sometimes a reduced dose or change is all that’s needed improve sexual function.

Continue to engage in sexual activity. Though it can be frustrating when you’re experiencing problems achieving erections, staying sexually active can help you to prevent further problems with ED. Sexual arousal and frequent erections, even if not long-lasting or firm enough, stimulates 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 and may be effective in the treatment of ED, according to a list published by the Mayo Clinic.

DHEA: Dehydroepiandrosterone is considered safe when taken in low doses and has been shown to help erectile dysfunction. Acne is a possible side effect.

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

L-arginine: There is some evidence that suggests that high doses stimulate blood vessels for better blood flow to the penis. Gastrointestinal side effects such as diarrhea, cramping, and nausea are possible, and it cannot be taken with Viagra.

It is important to understand that many of the dietary supplements that are labeled as “natural” remedies available on the market have not 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, which is the active ingredient in Viagra and a similar substance to that found in other prescription medications for ED. These can prove dangerous to some and should therefore be avoided.

Speak to your doctor before taking any supplements or medications for ED, even those said to be all-natural.