Your sexual health is incredibly important to your overall well-being, and you want to do everything possible to keep things from cooling under the covers. Given that more than half of men in the United States have some experience with erectile dysfunction, you’re right to be concerned — and proactive.
In this month’s blog post, board-certified urologist and men’s health expert Dr. Robert Cornell reviews five ways to prevent (or treat) erectile dysfunction (ED). Of course, we offer treatments for stubborn ED here at our practice, but we want to focus more on lifestyle adjustments you can make to support your sexual health.
What causes ED?
In order to avoid a condition like ED, it’s helpful to understand the causes and risk factors. And there are many when it comes to ED, such as:
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Having obesity
- Mental or emotional health issues
- Neurological disorders
- Hormone imbalances
This list isn’t complete, but it covers some of the more common culprits behind ED.
ED prevention techniques
Now that we understand some of the primary risk factors that can contribute to ED, it makes sense that these are great places to start if you want to maintain sexual function..
1. Lose weight
Having obesity is one of the leading risk factors for ED, and obesity is very common in the US — more than 42% of adults have obesity. Having obesity can lead to ED because it can decrease your testosterone production, damage your blood vessels, and create system-wide inflammation.
So, for your sexual health, and your overall health, it’s important to maintain a healthy body weight.
2. Quit smoking
The benefits of quitting smoking are without limit, and you can include improving erectile function. Tobacco use damages your blood vessels, which can hamper the necessary blood flow to your penis to achieve and maintain an erection.
3. Walk it out
To maintain optimal health, including sexual health, your body needs to move. If you lead a mostly sedentary lifestyle, we urge you to get up and get moving. We’re not saying that you have to go out and run miles — though that’s a great goal — but start with 30 minutes of walking a day.
A Harvard study reports that this quick-and-easy half hour of walking can reduce your risks for ED by 41%.
4. Curb drug and alcohol use
Those drinks at the end of the day might help you to unwind, but they’re not helping your sexual function. Both drugs and alcohol slow the signaling between your brain and your penis and lead to ED.
5. Reduce stress
Sex can be one of the best stress relievers, but stress is also a major driver of ED. Stress and anxiety can overwhelm you to that you’re unable to perform sexually. This temporary ED then adds to your stress and creates a vicious cycle in which you’re struggling with ongoing ED.
We suggest that you break the stress cycle by finding ways to relax your body and mind, such as through:
- Deep breathing exercises
- Walking and other exercise
Techniques for de-stressing vary greatly — perhaps you relax when you spend time with friends playing a round of golf or maybe you prefer quieter activities like listening to music. Whatever works to calm your mind, we suggest you devote some time to the activity, which can help break the cycle of stress that’s leading to ED.
These tips are great for preventing ED, as well as treating existing ED. We do recommend that if you’re having trouble with ED, you come see us for an evaluation so we can make sure you have the right treatment and lifestyle plan in place for regaining sexual function.
To get started, please contact our office in Houston, Texas, to schedule a consultation with Dr. Cornell.