Natural remedies that can help your ED.
Erectile Dysfunction (or impotence) is the inability to get or keep an erection long enough to have sex. It’s very common in men, especially as you get older. According to research from the Irish Heart Foundation, almost 20% of men in their 50s suffer from ED, climbing to 38% of men in their 60s, and 57% of men over 70.
But! There is good news. Erectile Dysfunction can be treated.
Natural vs medical treatments for erectile dysfunction
To understand ED treatments, you need to get to the root cause of the issue.
ED happens when enough blood either doesn’t flow to the penis, or it doesn’t stay inside the penis long enough to do the job. There are several different reasons this may happen.
If the reason is physical – you’ve injured your penis, had surgery on your bladder or prostate, or suffer from a disease like MS or diabetes – medical treatment is your best option. There are many different Erectile Dysfunction treatments, including medication, penis pumps, LIST therapy, and surgery.
But Erectile Dysfunction can also be caused by emotional issues – like stress, anxiety or depression -- or lifestyle choices – smoking, drinking and inactivity. These often respond well to natural treatment.
Here are 5 naturalremedies for Erectile Dysfunction.
Exercise is probably the most effective natural remedy for Erectile Dysfunction.
Not only does exercise improve your body’s overall blood flow, but it increases nitric oxide in your blood vessels (like erectile dysfunction medication does) to manage your blood pressure. Several studies have shown that certain exercises like HIIT and weightlifting can also increase your body’s levels of testosterone.
The cause of erectile dysfunction might be in your jeans. Specifically, in the waistband of your jeans. Men with a waist size higher than 42 inches are 50% more likely to experience erectile dysfunction than men with a 32-inch waist. Larger lads are also more likely to suffer from diabetes, which is another factor in erectile dysfunction.
Swap comfort eating for a Mediterranean style diet, rich in fruit, fresh vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats like olive oil. A 2021 study found this diet was extremely effective in improving the sexual performance of middle-aged men suffering from erectile dysfunction. Scientists are even beginning to believe that adopting a healthy diet early on might protect against erectile dysfunction in later life.
Reducing cigarettes and alcohol
Smoking is public enemy number one. The longer you smoke, the more likely you are to suffer from erectile dysfunction. Quitting can help. A study published in BUJI found that 25% of men with ED experienced improvement after a year of giving up smoking. But you must quit, you can’t just switch to e-cigarettes. Early tests suggest vaping has a negative effect on endothelial function and messes up erectile function.
Public enemy number two is alcohol. Yep, brewers droop is real. Alcohol interferes with your ability to achieve an erection and lessens your ability to ejaculate. But the effects last longer than the hangover. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine revealed that “erectile failure” is significantly higher in men who drink more than 3 units of alcohol every day. And a separate study found that 61% of people dependent on alcohol suffered from sexual dysfunction, most commonly erectile problems or reduced sexual desire.
The effects aren’t permanent. Alcoholics who’d been abstinent for 2-3 months were found to have sexual functioning as healthy as people who’d never drunk booze.
Erectile dysfunction isn’t caused only by unhealthy eating or nights on the lash. In fact, it’s been estimated that 10-20% of all cases of erectile dysfunction are caused by psychological problems. Issues like stress, PTSD, poor body image, relationship issues and depression can all impact your ability to enjoy a fulfilling, satisfying sex life.
There are several different forms of therapy that can help. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a simple way of breaking out of mental ruts (for example, expecting not to be able to achieve an erection, which becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy) whereas Psychosexual Therapy can help with erectile dysfunction caused by stress, trauma or relationship problems. Or Couples Counselling can address ongoing issues between you and your other half.
Counselling for ED is safe, confidential and effective. To find out which type of therapy would best help you, book an introductory session with a counsellor.
Understand your medications
The cause of your erectile dysfunction might be lurking in your medicine cabinet. Several types of medication can interfere with your sexual function, and the effects might not be immediate.
The most common types of medicine that can affect your sexual response are:
- Blood-pressure medications (especially Thiazides and beta blockers).
- Parkinsons Disease treatments.
- Opiate painkillers.
- Recreational drugs like cocaine, heroin, marijuana, amphetamines and nicotine.
See a full list here.
If you believe your medications might be causing erectile dysfunction, don’t just stop taking the pills! That can be very dangerous. Instead, book an appointment with a GP to discuss whether different treatment might be suitable.
This blog was written by Kate Taylor, a Sex Expert, Sex and Dating Features Writer, columnist and author of five books, for HealthHero.ie..