Sex and Romance: Working Together to Relight the Fire

If you’re experiencing erection problems, you’re probably not alone. Your spouse or partner is also affected. Fortunately, there’s plenty both of you can do to overcome ED and enjoy better and more intimate sex.

Get a Checkup

The first step when you begin to notice persistent problems getting an erection is to make an appointment to see your doctor. Erectile dysfunction is a vascular disease (a blood vessel problem) and often is associated with other vascular diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or heart disease.

The ability to develop and maintain an erection depends on healthy blood vessels. When arteries become clogged with cholesterol or damaged by high blood pressure, blood flow into the penis can be impaired.

Men over age 55 with erectile dysfunction have a 50% greater risk of developing heart disease than men without erection problems. Younger men with erection problems have an even higher risk of heart disease.

Tweak Your Diet

Smarter food choices can help reduce risk factors linked to erection problems, including high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol. As with many conditions, when more risk factors are present, they increase the risk of the disease.

The basic advice may be familiar, but many men still don’t follow it:

  • Eat more fruits and vegetables – 5 to 9 servings a day.
  • Consume less salt by eating less processed food, which is often high in sodium.
  • Eat more fish, poultry, and other sources of lean protein.
  • Cut back on red meat.
  • Choose low-fat or non-fat dairy products.
  • If weight is a problem, gradually trim your portion sizes.

Making changes in the way you eat isn’t easy, of course. When a couple makes healthy changes together, they improve the chances of success.

Lose a Few Pounds

Being overweight gets in the way of good sex in many ways. It can make a man feel less than sexy. And let’s face it, your partner may not find that beer belly so appealing, either.

Obesity is also associated with lower-than-normal testosterone levels in men, which can cause a loss of sex drive. Consuming fewer calories by eating less and burning more calories by increasing physical activity are effective ways to lose weight.

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Move It

Regular physical activity not only helps maintain a healthy weight, it also improves the function of heart and blood vessels. That, in turn, could help improve the quality of your erection. Some studies have indicated that men who exercise regularly have a reduced risk of erectile dysfunction. In addition, the more fit you are, the more energy you’re likely to have for sex. Finding activities to do with your partner can help strengthen your relationship and enhance your sense of intimacy.

Put Out the Cigarette

Men who smoke are at a greater risk of developing erection problems. Smoking damages the small vessels that deliver blood to the penis. In a 2005 study of 2,115 men, current smokers were 2.5 times more likely to suffer ED than nonsmoking men. Former smokers who had kicked the habit dramatically reduced their risk.

Quitting smoking is never easy. But millions have done it. Support from your spouse or partner improves your odds of success. Your doctor can also help by prescribing nicotine replacement therapies or other treatments and pointing you toward effective smoking cessation programs.

Relax

Getting a firm erection is a matter both of mind and body. Even if the problem has physical causes, such as impaired circulation, emotional and psychological worries often makes things worse. Stress at work or home can make it difficult to relax and enjoy sex.

Erection problems can make sex itself stressful. To reduce stress, make a list of the main worries in your life right now. Identify those that you can change. Then find ways to ease the unavoidable stresses. Take 10 minutes now and then to sit quietly, relax, and focus on your breathing.

Other effective ways to ease stress include yoga, meditation, physical activities such as walking or swimming, and simply doing things you enjoy, such as listening to music or talking with a friend. Spending quality time with your spouse or partner is another good way to ease stress. One great way to get quality time with one another is to take a vacation together.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Jennifer Robinson, MD on December 16, 2016

Sources

SOURCES: 

National Kidney and Urological Diseases Clearinghouse: “Erectile Dysfunction."

U.S. Department of Agriculture: “Steps to a Healthier You."

Holden, C. Medical Journal of Australia, June 2010.

Gades, N. American Journal of Epidemiology, 2005.

Brian Zamboni, PhD, clinical psychologist specializing in human sexuality, University of Minnesota.

© 2016 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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