As men age, erectile dysfunction (ED) becomes more common. However, it’s not necessarily a normal part of aging. So, how can you avoid ED? Here’s what experts have to say, according to WebMD.
A diet that is bad for a man’s heart is also not good for his ability to have an erection.
Research has shown that the same eating habits that can cause heart attacks due to restricted blood flow to the coronary arteries can also hinder blood flow within the penis. Blood flow is necessary for penile erection. A diet that lacks fruits and vegetables and includes a lot of fatty, fried, and processed foods can lead to reduced overall blood circulation.
„Whatever is bad for a man’s heart is also bad for his penis,“ says Andrew McCullough, MD, associate professor of clinical urology and director of the men’s sexual health program at NYU Langone Medical Center.
Recent studies show that ED is relatively uncommon in men who follow a traditional Mediterranean diet, which includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, heart-healthy fats like nuts and olive oil, fish, and wine, especially red wine.
„The connection between the Mediterranean diet and improved sexual function has been scientifically proven,“ says Irwin Goldstein, MD, director of sexual medicine at Alvarado Hospital in San Diego.
Being overweight can lead to numerous health problems, including type 2 diabetes, which can cause nerve damage throughout the body. When diabetes affects the nerves that supply the penis, ED can occur.
High cholesterol or high blood pressure can damage blood vessels, including those that carry blood to the penis. Ultimately, this can lead to ED.
Make sure your doctor checks your cholesterol levels and blood pressure. You may also want to monitor your blood pressure in between doctor visits. Some stores and fire stations offer free screenings, and blood pressure monitors are also sold for home use.
If your cholesterol levels or blood pressure are out of balance, seek treatment.
Some blood pressure medications may make it difficult to achieve an erection. However, doctors say that many cases of erectile dysfunction attributed to these medications are actually caused by arterial damage due to high blood pressure.
There is no evidence that light or even moderate alcohol consumption impairs erectile function, says Dr. Ira Sharlip, professor of urology at the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine. However, chronic heavy alcohol consumption can cause liver damage, nerve damage, and other conditions, such as disruptions to the normal balance of male sexual hormone levels, which can lead to ED. Binge drinking can also impair erectile function.
There is strong evidence of a connection between a sedentary lifestyle and erectile dysfunction. Running, swimming, and other forms of aerobic exercise have been shown to help prevent ED.
Be cautious of any form of exercise that puts excessive pressure on the perineum, the area between the scrotum and anus. Both the blood vessels and nerves that supply the penis can be affected by excessive pressure in this area. Goldstein warns that cycling, in particular, can cause ED.
It’s unlikely that an occasional short ride will cause issues. However, men who spend a lot of time cycling should ensure their bike fits properly, wear padded cycling shorts, and stand up frequently while pedaling.
According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, „no-nose“ bicycle seats protect against genital numbness and sexual dysfunction.
Kegel exercises involve repeatedly tightening and relaxing the pelvic muscles. Kegel exercises can be helpful for men and women with incontinence. If you suffer from ED, you should definitely give these exercises a try, as certain pelvic muscles help support an erection.
Even in healthy men, testosterone levels tend to decline significantly after the age of 50. From the age of 40, a man’s testosterone levels typically decrease by about 1.3% each year.
Symptoms such as low libido, mood swings, lack of stamina, or difficulty making decisions indicate a testosterone deficiency, as do lackluster erections. Your doctor can check this for you.
These medications, commonly abused by athletes and bodybuilders, can shrink the testicles and impair their ability to produce testosterone.
Smoking cigarettes can damage blood vessels and impair blood flow to the penis. Nicotine causes a contraction of blood vessels, which can impair blood flow to the penis.
Believe it or not, some cases of erectile dysfunction are due to penile injuries sustained during sex. It may be helpful to take your time and avoid certain positions. It could be uncomfortable, but consider talking to your doctor about what, and more importantly, what not to do.
Psychological stress increases the level of the hormone adrenaline, which constricts blood vessels. This can be bad news for an erection. Anything a man can do to reduce tension and feel emotionally better is likely to give his sex life a big boost.