From time to time, most men have trouble getting or keeping an erection that is firm and long-lasting enough for satisfying sex. There may be several reasons for this erectile dysfunction (ED), and usually it’s temporary. But, even if the episode doesn’t last long and erectile function returns, it can still be upsetting and embarrassing for men.
At Westchester Health, we have many patients who experience ED for varying lengths of time, and we know how tough it can be, not only for our patients but also for their partners. Many of them want to know if there’s anything they can do to reverse or even prevent ED. To share information on this important topic, we’ve compiled a list of 10 easy, do-it-yourself actions you can take to avoid ED, with input from Healthbeat and Healthline.
10 ways to reverse or even prevent ED
1. Walk every day
According to one study, just 30 minutes of daily walking decreased a man’s risk for ED by 41%.
2. Eat a healthy diet (less red meat)
In the NIH Massachusetts Male Aging Study, eating a diet rich in natural foods such as fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and fish (with less red and processed meat and refined grains) decreased the likelihood of ED.
3. Monitor your vascular health
High blood pressure, high blood sugar, high cholesterol and high triglycerides can all damage arteries in the heart, brain and those that lead to the penis. Check with your doctor to find out whether your vascular system — and thus your heart, brain and penis — is functioning well or whether you need to make lifestyle changes and perhaps take medications.
4. Get in shape and stay in shape
A trim waistline is very important in preventing ED. A man with a 42-inch waist is 50% more likely to have ED than one with a 32-inch waist. Losing weight can really help avoid or reverse ED, so make it your goal to achieve and then maintain a healthy weight. Obesity also raises your risk for vascular disease and diabetes, two major causes of ED.
5. Strengthen your pelvic floor
A strong pelvic floor helps rigidity during erections and keeps blood from leaving the penis. To strengthen this area, we recommend Kegel exercises for men.
6. Stop smoking
Not smoking, or quitting if you do smoke, plays a big role in preventing ED.
7. Reduce your alcohol consumption
It’s been shown that heavy drinkers experience ED more often.
8. Get adequate, high-quality sleep
Lack of deep, restful sleep impacts a man’s sexual performance. In addition, studies show that men with sleep apnea (interrupted breathing at night) improved their erectile function after using a breathing machine during sleep.
9. Replace your bike seat
Bicycle seats put pressure on nerves and blood vessels in the pelvic region. If you are a frequent or long-distance cyclist, we recommend that you consider getting a seat specially designed to reduce pressure on your perineum (between the anus and the scrotum). Some studies have linked bicycling to ED, though more research is needed to confirm the connection.
10. Increase sexual frequency
Frequent or regular sex can help you maintain sexual performance and avoid ED. One NIH study found that men who had intercourse less than once a week were twice as likely to develop ED at least once a week.
Don’t forget the mental health aspect
In both and women, our bodies are closely connected to our minds, and ED is no different. Psychological factors such as performance anxiety, relationship problems, depression, stress and depression can all lead to ED, says Healthline.
Some ways to decrease the negative effects of stress and anxiety include meditation, yoga and exercise. It might be a good idea to see a professional therapist who can help you manage anxiety and depression, and medication may be another option.
Remember, you can get better
The main thing you need to remember is that ED is very common and not permanent. With certain lifestyle changes, along with perhaps therapy and/or medication, ED can be reversed and your erectile function can greatly improve and return to its former healthy level.
More than a specialist, your urologist is your healthcare partner
At Westchester Health, we feel strongly that a urologist should be part of your overall health maintenance routine. Even though urologic problems are sensitive topics to talk about, it’s very important that you and your urologist feel comfortable with each other and can discuss any issues that are going on with you. Together, you can achieve the best possible level of health.
To know more, read our blogs on the subject
We’ve written a number of highly informative blogs focusing on urologic conditions, which you can read here.
Helpful websites we recommend
Want to know more about ED? Please come see us.
If you think you might be experiencing ED or want to discuss ways you can avoid developing it, please call (914) 232-1919 to make an appointment with one of our Westchester Health urologists. We’ll examine you, evaluate your symptoms, maybe perform some tests, and together with you, decide whether you might need treatment going forward, given your individual health needs. Whenever, wherever you need us, we’re here for you.
By Jerry Weinberg, MD, a urologist with Westchester Health, member of Westchester Health Physician Partners