Erectile Dysfunction and Your Lifestyle

Medically Reviewed by Nazia Q Bandukwala, DO on October 01, 2019

Think you may have erectile dysfunction (ED)? You may be surprised to learn that a lot of the things we know aren’t good for your health can also affect your ability to get or keep an erection.

  • Smoking: It increases your risk of hardening of the arteries. This reduces blood flow to the penis. It’s that blood flow that helps you get an erection.
  • Being overweight: Carrying extra pounds increases your risk of blood vessel disease, a cause of ED.
  • Inactive lifestyle: If you want to reduce your chance of getting ED, get off the couch. Regular exercise can help to make sure that when the time comes, you’re ready.
  • Poorly managed diabetes:Diabetes can affect blood flow to your penis. Maintain a healthy diet, get regular exercise, and take your medicine as prescribed.
  • High cholesterol: It can damage the linings of blood vessels, including those in the penis. It can also affect the arteries leading to your genitals. Eat right, exercise regularly, and take your meds.
  • Alcohol: If you have more than two drinks a day, you could be hurting your ability to get an erection. Alcohol restricts blood flow to the penis and can hinder production of testosterone. Low testosterone can affect not only your performance, but your desire, too.
  • Illegal drug use: Marijuana, cocaine, and other recreational drugs can cause ED by damaging blood vessels. They can also restrict blood flow to the penis.
  • Stress and anxiety: These are leading causes of temporary ED. If your mind’s too occupied, it’s hard to relax enough to be “in the mood.”