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Home / Erectile Dysfunction / Top 6 Ways to Beat Erectile Dysfunction

Top 6 Ways to Beat Erectile Dysfunction

“It’s never happened before, I swear.”

Sound a little too familiar?

Worry not - erectile dysfunction is a normal and surprisingly common condition. It is estimated to affect roughly 25% of men under 40 and over 50% of those with certain health conditions like diabetes. Nobody likes to talk about it, but they should - there are various treatments and tips that can be tried.

Read on to discover how to beat erectile dysfunction so that you can beat ‘it’.

1. Exercise

The power of exercise cannot be overstated. When combined with a healthy diet, a regular jog, swim, or cycle is arguably the best method of preventing health issues.

Physical activity improves blood flow, helps control weight, reduces stress and promotes confidence - all things that contribute to good health.

In particular, erectile dysfunction can be directly caused by poor circulation, depression and anxiety and obesity. Even if the underlying cause is not one of these, combining exercise with other treatments is incredibly beneficial. And like any lifestyle change, it’s all about habit. Push through those first few uncomfortable sessions, and you’ll soon feel the benefits!

Strengthening exercises

You can also practice pelvic floor exercises (or “Kegel exercises”). These are simple movements that have been shown to help treat ED as well as a number of other conditions. Kegel exercises strengthen the muscles in your lower abdomen, often called the “core”.

They can be performed anywhere by tensing and relaxing your core muscles in sets, or as movements at the gym involving weights. The NHS provides a great resource on how to complete these exercises effectively.

Man stretching after exercise

2. Diet & lifestyle

Good health begins in the kitchen. What you put in your body has an enormous impact on if and when you develop health conditions.

We’ve all heard about how “bad" foods can contribute to high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease. Well, each of these conditions can lead to erectile dysfunction. Not to mention the impact they have on your overall physical and mental health. On top of this, obesity affects blood flow and leads to low testosterone levels.

It can be tricky to change your diet, especially if you love food. Luckily, there are some delicious and healthy options out there.

To really ensure you’re eating well, you should speak to your GP or contact a dietician.

Lifestyle

There are other substances that you can consume which contribute to the severity of health issues, including sexual dysfunctions. You should avoid these to reduce the chance of developing ED. To name just a few:

  • smoking - the chemicals in cigarette smoke restrict blood flow, which can exacerbate existing symptoms of ED
  • drinking - alcohol is a “depressant", meaning it can dampen mood and sexual drive when abused. A single heavy night of drinking can also cause ED.
  • recreational drug use - depending on the drugs used, they can change how your body functions. Just like nicotine, certain recreational drugs will restrict blood vessels.

3. Therapy

Even though ED presents with physical symptoms, a man’s mental wellbeing also factors in. For many men, especially those who are younger, anxiety and depression are more common causes.

In particular, there is a form of anxiety known as “performance anxiety”. As its name suggests, the pressure of the act may make it difficult to feel comfortable in bed, leading to erection problems.

In all of these cases, the ideal way to deal with ED is to talk through the issues, either with your partner or a professional.

Options to consider include:

  • Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) works by identifying destructive thought processes and developing methods of dealing with them. Relating to ED, CBT is predicated on the principle that your thoughts and physical reactions are interconnected. By understanding that relationship and breaking down fears into smaller parts, you can overcome your bedroom problems.
  • Couples/relationship therapy involves creating a platform for improving communication. You will learn to communicate your concerns and frustrations to your partner whilst receiving guidance and criticism from a professional.
  • Sex therapy focuses solely on the act of sex. It may prove more effective if your ED stems from sexual miscommunication rather than underlying psychological concerns. A therapist may propose different techniques to improve your sex life and sex drive.
  • Psychosexual therapy is similar to couples therapy in that it involves your partner. However, it focuses entirely on the sexual aspect of your relationship as well as the conscious and unconscious feelings that may be affecting your sexual performance.

You can always contact your GP to discuss therapy and counselling - they will be able to advise what is the best treatment for your situation and refer you to certified therapists.

Couple in therapy

4. ED Medication

If you have identified a physical cause, you should consider medication.* There are many choices, including over-the-counter and prescription erectile dysfunction treatments. However, the most commonly prescribed class of medication is PDE-5 inhibitors. PDE-5 inhibitors increase blood flow to the penis, helping you to achieve a strong and long-lasting erection.

All of these are very effective:

  • Viagra (sildenafil) was the first and most successful prescription medication to be marketed as an ED treatment. Originally developed as a heart medication, Viagra’s effects were quickly discovered during clinical trials. It is also available as a generic by the name “Sildenafil”.
  • Cialis (tadalafil) is a long-lasting alternative to Viagra. Cialis’ effects persist for up to 36 hours. Cialis is favoured for the spontaneity it allows.
  • Levitra (vardenafil) has a unique active ingredient, making it available in lower dosages - this reduces the chance of certain side effects occurring.
  • Spedra (avanafil) is the newest of all PDE-5 inhibitors. Its main selling point is that effects are experienced very quickly - in under 20 minutes for some men.

*Speak with a urology specialist if you are unsure what is causing your ED.

Pile of viagra tablets

Natural treatments

You should always take the medical advice of a healthcare professional - they will normally recommend prescription treatment.

Alternative remedies are not generally backed by the medical community, however, they may still prove beneficial (if approved by your doctor):

  • l-arginine
  • ginseng
  • horny goat weed
  • acupuncture
  • yohimbine

5. Devices

Vacuum constriction devices (VCDs) or “penis pumps” are innovative devices that allow you to achieve an erection if medication and other treatment has proved unsuccessful.

These devices work by creating a negative pressure in the penis that forces blood into the organ. They can be manual or battery operated.

To use a VCD, you should first lubricate your penis. You should then place it into the cylinder and pump (usually, there is a button at the top of the cylinder). Once you have an erection, a constriction ring is attached to the shaft base to prevent blood from escaping. Ejaculation will be as normal, however, as long as the ring stays in place, the erection will not go away.

Please do not leave the ring on for more than 30 minutes, or else you risk side effects.

The NHS does not typically cover VCDs. You will have to purchase one from a licensed vendor. Your doctor can point you in the right direction.

Penis pump

6. Surgery

If none of the earlier options have worked for you, your last option is surgery. Usually, a urologist will recommend a penile implant.

Malleable/semi-rigid penile implant

A pair of rods are inserted into the two chambers (corpora cavernosa) in the penis. These can either be silicone or silicone with a wire core. The implant is always in a semi-erect state and can be adjusted for intercourse. The penis is then tucked into the waistband for discretion.

The advantage of this surgery is that it is considerably simpler than alternatives, and there is less risk of future restorative surgeries.

The negative aspect of the semi-rigid implant is that many men find the constant state of “arousal” uncomfortable or distracting in day-to-day life.

Inflatable penile implant (IPP)

There are two versions of the IPP:

The first is a three-piece IPP. Similar to the semi-rigid implant, two cylinders are inserted into the chambers of the penis. These are connected to a pump system, which is placed in the scrotum. A third component, a reservoir, is contained in the lower abdomen. The user only has to activate the pump in the scrotum, and saline solution will flow from the reservoir into the penis, generating an erection.

The surgery for this IPP is extensive and usually requires four to six weeks of recovery. However, the success rate is high (+90%), and the implant is the most realistic in appearance and action of all implants.

With the two-piece, a reservoir is not contained in the abdomen, instead it is inside the scrotum, along with the pump. The surgery is less intense, and the device's structure is more simplistic (and being a mechanical device, makes it easier to service). The downside is that erections are less pronounced, and the reservoir's presence in the scrotum may cause slight discomfort.

Despite the complexity of their design, IPPs are surprisingly subtle. The only sign that someone has had one performed is a small scar on the bottom base of the penis.

Penile implant diagram

Penile microarterial bypass surgery (MABS)

This surgery (also known as “penile revascularization”) is usually recommended for younger patients whose ED results from injury to the pelvis.

With this surgery, a doctor will attempt to bypass damaged and blocked penile arteries with arteries from the lower abdomen (in a similar way to cardiac bypass surgery). When performed successfully, the increased blood flow will return complete erectile function.

If you have a condition that affects your arteries, for example, arteriosclerosis, this surgery is not advised as it may lead to future complications.

Please note that not all of the above surgeries may be covered by the NHS unless you meet very specific criteria. You should contact your GP for more information.

Remember…

… ED is a common condition, and everyone can expect to experience it from time to time. It is important that you do not allow it to impact other areas of life (and if it has, to talk openly about it). As you have read, there are various treatments and methods of beating it.

That being said, not all of the above treatments may be right for you. Some (such as improving your diet and lifestyle) are recommended for all, however, you should always speak to a healthcare professional and follow their advice before beginning any new treatment plan.

For even more information about the causes, biology and treatments of the condition, visit euroClinix’s dedicated erectile dysfunction page. From this page, you can order prescription medication. However, you must first complete a confidential consultation. Our doctor will assess your suitability before either approving or refusing your order - if refused, you will not be charged.

Medically reviewed by
Dr. Mahesh Chhaya MBBS Written by our editorial team
Last reviewed 16 Mar 2021
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