Erectile Dysfunction Prevention
Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a
common problem. According to the National Kidney and Urologic Diseases
Information Clearinghouse (NKUDIC), occasional ED affects up to 30 million men
each year. ED in younger adult men is often temporary. However, the incidence
increases with age—four percent of men over the age of 50 and more than 17
percent of men in their 60s experience a total inability to get and maintain
and erection. (NKUDIC, 2012).
However, ED is not a natural consequence of aging, and it doesn’t have to ruin
your sex life or your self-esteem.
ED can be caused by a variety of
factors, including certain medications, injuries, chronic diseases and mental
disorders, and even drug use. Although not all ED is preventable, there are
things that you can do to reduce your risk of ED.
Lead a Healthy Lifestyle
Whole body health contributes to
sexual health. It is important to keep your arteries and nerves healthy to
maintain good circulation and prevent damage later on.
Poor diet and exercise and
unhealthy behaviors can increase your risk for ED, as well as other health
conditions. There are number of lifestyle changes that can help you stay
healthy. To reduce your risk of ED, consider:
- losing weight
- exercising regularly
- eating well
- quitting smoking
- avoiding excessive alcohol use
Control Your Chronic Illness
Chronic diseases are some of the
major causes of ED. Cardiovascular disease and diabetes significantly increase
ED risk in older men. Therefore, it is important to control chronic diseases by
taking all medications as directed and leading a healthier lifestyle. Doing so
can help you maintain functional erections.
You’ll want to:
- regulate your blood sugar
- try to keep blood pressure at
- manage your cholesterol through
diet and medication, if needed
- take medications for chronic
conditions, if needed
addition to the aforementioned diseases and conditions, prostate
disorders—specifically, prostate cancer and treatment—often cause ED. Surgery to remove the prostate gland and
surrounding tissues, called a radical prostatectomy, can often damage nerves
and tissues near the penis, which can lead to ED. However, studies have found
that getting erections after surgery can help prevent ED in the future. These
erections usually require injections, vacuum pumps, or other assistance. This
is also called penile rehabilitation.
Although controversial, penile rehabilitation seems to
improve the health of the penile tissue. It appears to improve blood flow and
Additional research has shown
that regular intercourse—at least once per week—reduced the risk for developing
ED in men aged 55 to 75.
Don’t Neglect Mental Health
Mental and emotional stress can also contribute to ED, and
in some cases, may even be the underlying cause of ED. Depression and anxiety can interfere with
your ability to get and maintain an erection, which in turn can create
additional stress. If you are experiencing symptoms of depression or anxiety
that interfere with your day-to-day activities, including your sex life, talk
to your doctor. There are a variety of treatment options available.
Communication is Key
No matter the cause of your ED, open, honest communication
is crucial for treatment and prevention. ED can undoubtedly affect your sex
life and relationships, and creates a significant amount of stress. However, failing to manage that stress can
actually exacerbate ED. Talking to your
partner about what you are experiencing can help alleviate stress and may also
help you and your partner find other forms of intimacy while you are seeking
treatment for ED.
While ED can be an uncomfortable or potentially embarrassing
subject, having a frank discussion about your symptoms with your doctor is the
first step towards finding treatment.