Medically Reviewed by Minesh Khatri, MD on March 18, 2021
Watch Your Weight
Sometimes all those extra pounds can take a toll on your sex life. If you're obese, you're more likely to get high cholesterol levels and diabetes, which can lead to erection problems. One study shows that men with a waist size over 40 inches are more likely to have erectile dysfunction. If you want to stay on top of your game, try to keep a healthy weight.
Try a Mediterranean Diet
ED is often linked to heart disease, so it makes sense that a heart-healthy diet would be good for your erections, too. Try to cut back on artery-clogging foods like full-fat dairy, fried foods, and red meat. Eat more fresh fruits and veggies, fish, and whole grains. Cleaning up your diet can pay off in the bedroom.
Manage Your Blood Pressure
High blood pressure can narrow your blood vessels, lessening blood flow through your body. If less flows to your penis you may find it's not so easy to get an erection. If you don't check your blood pressure regularly, it's time to start. You may have high blood pressure and not even know it.
Cut Down High Cholesterol
When cholesterol builds up in your blood vessels, it causes them to narrow, which can slow down your blood flow. That can make it tougher to get or keep an erection. If you've got high cholesterol, your doctor can suggest ways to lower it, like medication or a change in your diet.
Get Diabetes Under Control
You might find yourself with ED if you don't take care of your diabetes. That's because high blood sugar can damage the nerves and blood vessels in your penis. Talk to your doctor about ways to get your diabetes in check so you can get back in the groove.
If You Smoke, Quit
Need another reason to kick the habit? Here's one: Men who smoke are twice as likely to have erection problems as men who don't. Smoking hurts your sex life because it narrows your blood vessels. What's more, ED medications may not work as well for men who smoke.
If You Drink, Keep It Moderate
Drinking and sex aren't always a great mix. More than a drink or two can dampen your libido, soften your erection, or make it difficult to have an orgasm. If alcohol is causing your ED, it probably will go away when you cut back on or quit drinking.
Skip Illicit Drugs
Many recreational drugs can lead to erection trouble. Both uppers (like cocaine and amphetamines) and downers (like marijuana and opiates) may cause problems. These drugs often slow down your central nervous system, and some can also damage blood vessels. If you think you have a drug problem, this is just one more reason to seek help.
It's good for your sex life in lots of ways. It helps your heart and blood vessels stay healthy, keeps your weight in check, lowers stress, and in general just makes you feel good. And your workout doesn't even have to be strenuous. A study shows that even a 30-minute walk each day could lower your chance of having ED.
Keep Tabs on Testosterone
Testosterone levels gradually start to fall around age 30 and continue to drop as you get older. If it gets too low, it can affect your sex drive and your ability to get an erection. A simple blood test can tell you if you have low testosterone, and there are plenty of ways to treat it.
Don't Use Anabolic Steroids
You might not think pumping your body full of extra testosterone to build up muscles would hurt your erections, but it can. All that synthetic T turns off your body's ability to make its own, which means your problems will start when you quit taking the steroids. You could get a lot of other bad side effects, too, from shrunken testicles to baldness. Your best bet: Stay away from these risky drugs.
When you're stressed out from work, relationship problems, or a major life change, your libido can take a hit. And if you end up with ED, you may find it leads to even more anxiety. Cut down your stress levels, and you'll see benefits in the bedroom.
Treat Sleep Apnea
Research shows a link between the sleep disorder and ED. When you get treated for sleep apnea, you may see improvements in your erection problems as well. So if you think you might have sleep apnea, or if you know you have it and aren't doing anything about it, it's time to talk to your doctor.
Know Your Medication Side Effects
Erectile dysfunction is a common side effect for many prescription drugs, such as:
Diuretics (water pills)
If you use any of these medications and start to have erection problems, don't just stop taking them on your own. Talk to your doctor about possible fixes.
It's not unusual to have trouble getting an erection once in a while, but if it starts happening more often, don't ignore it. Talk to your doctor. You might have a health problem that's causing it. The sooner you deal with it, the sooner your sex life will be back on track.
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Cleveland Clinic: "Erectile Dysfunction: Waist Size Matters," "Low Testosterone (Male Hypogonadism)," "Medications That May Cause Erectile Dysfunction."
Circulation: "Cardiovascular Implications of Erectile Dysfunction."
Harvard Health Publications: "5 natural ways to overcome erectile dysfunction."
Indian Journal of Psychiatry: "Prevalence of sexual dysfunction in male subjects with alcohol dependence."
International Journal of Impotence Research: "Anxiety and erectile dysfunction: a global approach to ED enhances results and quality of life."
Mayo Clinic: "Erectile dysfunction," "Erectile dysfunction and diabetes: Take control today," "High blood pressure and sex: Overcome the challenges," "High Cholesterol," "Performance-enhancing drugs: Know the risks."
Medscape: "Tobacco Education: Emphasizing Impotence as a Consequence of Smoking."
National Sleep Foundation: "Possible Link Between Sleep Apnea and Erectile Dysfunction."
Polski Merkuriusz Lekarski: "Obesity -- significant risk factor for erectile dysfunction in men."