Preventing Erectile Dysfunction

What steps can I take to prevent erectile dysfunction?

You can help prevent many of the causes of erectile dysfunction (ED).

Quit smoking

If you smoke, get help quitting. Smoking is linked to heart and blood vessel disease, which can lead to ED. Even when heart and blood vessel disease and other possible causes of ED are taken into account, smoking still increases the chances that you will have ED.

Follow a healthy eating plan

To help maintain erectile function, choose whole-grain foods, low-fat dairy foods, fruits and vegetables, and lean meats. Avoid foods high in fat, especially saturated fat, and sodium. Follow a healthy eating plan to help aim for a healthy weight, and control your blood pressure and diabetes. Controlling your blood pressure and diabetes may help prevent ED.

Also, avoid drinking too much alcohol. If you are having trouble cutting out alcohol, see a counselor who has expert knowledge in treating people who drink too much.

Men and women eat a healthy meal together.
Take steps to prevent erectile dysfunction (ED): quit smoking, follow a healthy eating plan, maintain a healthy weight, and be physically active.

Maintain a healthy weight to prevent diabetes and high blood pressure

Maintaining a healthy weight also can help delay the start of diabetes and keep your blood pressure down. Talk with your doctor about how to prevent diabetes—or manage the disease if you already have it. Get regular checkups to measure your blood pressure.

If you need to lose weight, talk with your health care provider about how to lose weight safely. Ask for a referral to a dietitian who can help you plan healthy meals to lose weight. Losing weight may help reduce inflammation, increase testosterone levels, and increase self-esteem, all of which may help prevent ED. If you are at a healthy weight for your height, maintain that weight through healthy eating and physical activity.

Be physically active

Physical activity increases blood flow through your body, including the penis. Talk with a health care professional before starting new activities. Beginners should start slow, with easier activities such as walking at a normal pace or gardening. You can gradually work up to harder activities, such as walking briskly or swimming. Aim for at least 30 minutes of activity most days of the week.

Avoid using illegal drugs

Using illegal drugs may prevent you from getting or keeping an erection. For instance, some illegal drugs may prevent you from becoming aroused or feeling other sensations. Using illegal drugs may mask other psychological, emotional, or physical factors that may be causing your ED. Talk with your health care provider if you think you need help with drug abuse.

July 2017
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This content is provided as a service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), part of the National Institutes of Health. The NIDDK translates and disseminates research findings through its clearinghouses and education programs to increase knowledge and understanding about health and disease among patients, health professionals, and the public. Content produced by the NIDDK is carefully reviewed by NIDDK scientists and other experts.

The NIDDK would like to thank:
Tom Lue, M.D., University of California San Francisco