Raising your activity level and changing what you eat may make a difference. Some men also try alternative or at-home therapies for their ED.
It’s important to discuss your plans with your doctor before you try a natural or alternative approach.
Diet and Foods Related to Reduced Risks for ED
Researchers who took part in the Massachusetts Male Aging Study found that what you eat could reduce your chances of ED.
The following foods were linked to a lower risk:
- Whole grains
Other research has suggested that specific foods like dark chocolate, pistachios, watermelon, pink grapefruit, and tomatoes may help symptoms.
Also, men who have a chronic vitamin B12 deficiency and eat more processed meats and refined grains are more likely to develop ED.
Exercise and Erectile Dysfunction Risk
Recent research has shown that exercise, specifically moderate to vigorous aerobic physical activity, can improve symptoms of ED.
Simply walking may be a good activity to try. According to one study, 30 minutes of walking a day was associated with a 41 percent decrease in risk for ED.
But the advantages of exercise may be lower in men who have heart disease or other underlying medical conditions.
Talk to your doctor about how much physical activity you should incorporate into your daily and weekly routine.
Counseling and Erectile Dysfunction
Seeing a psychologist or other mental health professional could help improve your ED symptoms. You may want to bring your partner along for counseling sessions to discuss ways to encourage each other. If you don’t know where to start to look for counseling, ask your doctor or urologist for a specific recommendation.
Some men take supplements or try other forms of alternative medicine to treat their ED.
Check with your doctor before taking any supplement. Some products can be dangerous, especially if you have other medical conditions or take certain medications.
Beware of Products Labeled “Herbal Viagra”
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued warnings about some products labeled as “herbal Viagra.” These products are not the same as the prescription medication known as Viagra (with the active ingredient sildenafil). You should know that many of these supplements can cause unwanted side effects and haven’t been proved to work.
Some common supplements for ED include:
- Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA)
- Horny goat weed (epimedium)
Acupuncture and Erectile Dysfunction
Some men report an improvement in ED symptoms after having acupuncture. This ancient form of medicine involves using tiny needles to stimulate certain points on the body. While study results are mixed on whether acupuncture really works for ED, the therapy is considered safe and may help you feel better overall.
Lifestyle and Home Remedies for Erectile Dysfunction
Some common lifestyle and home remedies for ED include:
- Quitting smoking Using tobacco is a risk factor for ED. Quitting can improve your overall health and may reduce your ED symptoms. Ask your doctor about ways to quit.
- Losing weight Being overweight or obese can lead to erectile dysfunction. In fact, a man with a 42-inch waist is 50 percent more likely to develop ED than a man with a 32-inch waist. Eating a healthy diet and getting enough physical activity can help you keep your weight under control.
- Performing pelvic-floor exercises Moves to strengthen the muscles of your pelvic floor may help reduce symptoms of urinary incontinence. Some men also report improvements in ED.
- Adopting a healthy sleep schedule Some research has shown that sleep patterns may affect testosterone levels in men. Adequate rest and a regular sleep schedule may help your overall sexual health.
- Getting help for drug or alcohol dependence Using illicit drugs or drinking too much alcohol can lead to ED and other health problems. Quitting can be difficult, but your symptoms are likely to improve.
- Changing or lowering the dose of your meds If certain medications are causing your ED symptoms, talk to your doctor about lowering your dose or trying a different drug to help your condition.
- Practicing good oral hygiene Some research has shown gum infections (known as gingivitis) may be linked to problems getting an erection. Be sure to brush and floss your teeth every day. Also, see your dentist for a professional cleaning at least once a year, or whenever you have concerns about the health of your gums.
- Reducing stress levels Stress is a known risk factor for erectile dysfunction. Activities to reduce stress, such as yoga, meditation, or breathing exercises, may also help your ED.
Finding Support When You Have Erectile Dysfunction
Finding a good support system is key for overcoming ED. Talking to your partner may be a good place to start.
A trained professional will be able to help you work through many of the psychological effects of ED.
Sometimes, communicating your struggles in writing can be an effective way to cope. Several online support groups are available for men with ED.
By Julie Marks
- Dietary supplements for erectile dysfunction: A natural treatment for ED?, Mayo Clinic.
- Erectile Dysfunction: Diagnosis and Treatment, Mayo Clinic.
- 5 Ways to Overcome Erectile Dysfunction, Harvard Medical School.
- Erectile Dysfunction, Cleveland Clinic.