Erectile dysfunction is complicated. When you are aroused, your brain tells your body to release sexual hormones that tell the blood vessels in your penis to relax and open up. Your penis fills up with blood to create an erection hard enough to penetrate during sex. Your brain, nerves, hormones, heart, blood vessels are all involved and if any of the factors involved in this series of events go wrong, then it can prevent you from being able to get it up sufficiently.
While prescription medication or surgery have shown to be effective in combating ED, they don’t provide a cure to the underlying problem. In most cases, an appointment with your GP is necessary in order to establish the exact reasons why you may be experiencing ED and figuring out what treatment may be the most suitable for you.
Changes to a healthier lifestyle can be the starting point to increase the strength and frequency of your erections. We have compiled a few simple things you can start implementing in your daily routine today and which do not require any medication.Start with a Healthier Diet
If you have high cholesterol or if you are overweight, the fat in your arteries can slow down the flow of blood to your penis when you are supposed to get an erection. In fact, scientists have shown in a recent study that obesity is a bigger contributor to ED than age.
Thankfully, the body is remarkably responsive to changes, and the first and quickest way to combat ED is with your diet. The key is to make changes across your diet that are sustainable, so you can maintain better health in the long term. Here are some top tips to get you started:
- Start by replacing saturated fats in your diet with healthy fats. Foods rich in healthy fats are salmon, mackerel, walnuts, and avocados. Use olive oil as your main cooking oil.
- Consume more dietary fibre - the increased energy you get as a result helps you to burn stored body fat. Some simple examples are to start your day with good old fashioned porridge and ensure you get your recommended 5-a-day, including vegetables, beans, and whole grains.
- Avoid sugar and processed carbohydrates. We’ve all been told it before: while healthy foods make your body happier, refined sugars and carbohydrates can reverse any good work you put in with healthy choices. With a cleaner diet, you will find yourself with more energy and fewer cravings for naughties.
Exercise helps to increase blood circulation and burn fat, therefore, it helps to combat some of the physical causes of erectile dysfunction. At the same time, it reduces the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline and makes your body produce endorphins, aiding the psychological part of your arousal process.
If you haven’t broken a sweat for a while, fear not. A decent workout is whatever level pushes you to your limits that day, so there is an appropriate activity and intensity for you no matter how long it’s been since your last workout. Find something you enjoy, and push yourself a little further each day. Here are some different options depending on what’s right for you:
- Weightlifting - is an efficient way to burn stored fat and exchange it for muscle, and the way to get gains if you want them.
- HIIT - stands for High-Intensity Interval Training, and while it is very popular, it isn’t for the faint-hearted. It consists of lots of short bursts of exercise where you work to 80-90% of your ability. Efficient and effective.
- Team sports - such as football, basketball, rugby, and squash are great ways to get fit and socialise at the same time, with lots of people around to support and train you.
Stop Watching Porn
“It’s hard to know exactly how many young men are suffering from porn-induced ED. But it’s clear that this is a new phenomenon, and it’s not rare.”
– Dr. Abraham Morgentaler, Director of Men’s Health Boston and Clinical Professor of Urology at Harvard Medical School
The accessibility, affordability, and anonymity of consuming porn has materially increased over the past 15 years and attracted millions of daily users. Porn-induced erectile dysfunction is a common problem, particularly amongst young men. That’s not to say that porn is necessarily bad, or good, but yet with millions finding it impossible to get an erection to anything other than porn, it’s safe to say that it isn’t the greatest gift to man either.
The exact cause of porn-induced ED hasn’t been widely agreed on by researchers; some believe that watching lots stops the man from being able to perform in the bedroom because he doesn’t feel able to perform as well as the actors. Others have hypothesized that easy access to pornography has distorted the view of what is ‘normal’ in the bedroom, leaving many men unsatisfied by their partner’s ‘too conventional’ preferences. Another belief is that excessive masturbation in conjunction with porn causes the man’s libido to associate stimulation with porn as opposed to real life arousal.
If you find yourself able to get hard to porn, but not to your partner, it might indicate that porn is contributing to your ED problem. The good news is there are a number of things you can do to retrain your sex abilities. Here are some tried and tested tips:
- Go 90 days without porn and 30 days without masturbating. As with quitting anything, doing another activity whenever you have the impulse to break can help you rewire your habit. For example, go out of the house and exercise.
- After 30 days, masturbate again, but without porn to override your brain’s association with sex and porn.
- If you know when the opportunity to have intercourse with a partner will arise, avoid masturbating earlier that day, and for longer than a day if you can.
If you keep up these habits and develop a positive psychology towards real sex, then gradually you can re-adjust your libido so it springs into action in the bedroom when you and your partner want it.Stop Smoking
We all know that smoking is bad for your health as it narrows your arteries, slows circulation and increases the risk of respiratory and heart diseases. However, there is also strong academic evidence supporting that smoking can cause erectile dysfunction. The good news is that stopping smoking can reverse the impact significantly.
If there were ever a reason to quit smoking, the ability to enjoy sex might be the ultimate one. You can try going cold turkey, replacing with a nicotine e-cig, switching to a nicotine-free one, or using cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) - whichever you feel will keep you off the smokes for the long term.Alcohol or Drug Consumption
Although alcohol can help you lose your inhibitions, it’s difficult to get an erection when you had too much to drink. In the long term, heavy drinking also contributes to obesity and high blood pressure, which make you more likely to suffer from erectile dysfunction. Avoid having more than 2-3 units of alcohol per day, and go a few consecutive days in the week without any if you can.
As with all lifestyle changes, they take time. So be patient and don’t expect them to cure you of ED overnight.