According to Lloyds Pharmacy, approximately 11.7 million men in the UK struggle with sexual dysfunction.
Erectile dysfunction (ED) is regarded as a common sexual dysfunction affecting many men across all ages.
On a global scale, a 2019 review discovered that the prevalence of ED increased with age. This is reinforced in another study which showed that 52% of men aged 40-70 are likely to experience mild to moderate erectile dysfunction.
Although more common in older men, the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that ED also affected 26% of men, under the age of 40.
- What is erectile dysfunction?
- Erectile dysfunction causes
- How to cure your erectile dysfunction at home
- Getting help for your erectile dysfunction
ED can have a profound effect on your quality of life, affecting your mental and emotional wellbeing while simultaneously disrupting your sex life and relationship.
If erectile issues are negatively impacting your relationship or sex life, read our tips below for ways to combat ED and improve your sex life.
What is erectile dysfunction?
Erectile dysfunction, sometimes referred to as impotence, is the ongoing inability to achieve and maintain a penile erection that is firm or sufficient enough for sexual intercourse or performance.
The main erectile dysfunction symptoms are:
- Difficulties achieving an erection that is not too soft for sex
- Struggling to sustain an erection that lasts long enough for sex
- An inability to achieve an erection
- Low libido and decreased sex drive
In some cases, the penis can become partly erect, but either fails to reach the full rigidity to indulge in sexual activity properly or struggles to stay erect long enough to fulfil sexual needs. Other times, the penis cannot become erect at all.
Erectile dysfunction causes
When men become sexually aroused, the brain, hormones, emotions, nerves, muscles and blood vessels work together to create an erection.
If any of these are affected, it can cause issues in erectile function. There are many factors that can lead or contribute towards ED, including physical and psychological issues as well as certain lifestyle habits.
While it’s not uncommon for ED to occur occasionally, due to stress, tiredness or excessive drinking, if it occurs frequently, this could indicate a more serious problem.
Below are some factors that are related to ED:
Psychological causes of ED
- Other mental health conditions
- Relationship problems that can trigger mental health concerns
Physical and medical causes of ED
- Heart disease
- Clogged blood vessels
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Sleep disorders
- Certain prescription medicines
- Low testosterone
Lifestyle causes of ED
- Recreational drugs
- Lack of exercise
- Unhealthy diet high in bad fats and sugars
How to help cure your erectile dysfunction at home
There are a number of medical treatments available for ED, and it is worth knowing that there are a number of non-medical methods and lifestyle changes that can be done to alleviate symptoms of ED.
Here are some natural ways you can improve your sex life living with ED:
Have an open conversation with your partner
Although it may sound a little daunting, being open about your erectile issues is the first step to a satisfying sex life. A conversation about your desires, worries and fears regarding ED will allow your partner to empathise and support you in overcoming any sexual obstacles. Hiding it or making excuses can make the situation more difficult, as not only are you likely to keep feeling uncomfortable when attempting sexual activity but your partner may think you’re not attracted to them or they are part of the problem. Don’t be afraid to speak up, as it’s important to reassure each other and remain supportive.
Try to relax and forget about personal issues
Psychological conditions such as stress and anxiety can contribute to the ongoing cycle of ED. Whether it’s work-related tension, relationship issues, or worrying about your sexual performance, this can make you less likely to enjoy or be in the mood for sex, making it harder to get an erection. A great way to relax your mind and body is to perform breathing exercises and indulge in romantic bonding activities with your partner beforehand such as an erotic massage. Leave your troubles at the bedroom door or the moment lovemaking begins, as the more relaxed you feel the more likely you are to be ready or in the frame of mind for sexual activity, helping you become more aroused and maintain an erection for intercourse.
Avoid unhealthy eating habits
Poor dietary patterns can cause or contribute to various health issues, such as clogged arteries, diabetes and heart disease, which are known risk factors for ED. According to a study, diets with a high content of whole grain foods, legumes, vegetables and fruits, and with a lower consumption of red meat, full-fat dairy products, and food and beverages high in added sugars are associated with a reduced risk of ED. An abundant consumption of more fruit and vegetables or a Mediterranean style diet has been associated with a lower prevalence of ED in both diabetic and non-diabetic men. Making a conscious effort to eat healthy and nutritious foods and cutting back on unhealthy fats and sugars can improve ED, such as improving the blood flow throughout your body including the penis. If you need help with your new diet, seek help from your GP and a food nutritionist.
Avoid smoking, drugs and alcohol
Smoking and frequent alcohol consumption as well as drug abuse can cause or worsen ED. Studies have shown that men who smoke cigarettes have a higher risk of experiencing ED and those who have quit have improved symptoms. Research has proved that heavy smokers in particular who smoke a minimum of 20 cigarettes per day are more likely to experience severe ED in comparison to those who smoke less, and it can be harder to reverse following smoking cessation. With regards to alcohol, a study highlighted that 72% of men with alcohol dependence complained of one or more issues with sexual functioning. Smoking, alcohol and recreational drugs damage the blood vessels and can restrict blood flow to the penis, which is needed to achieve an erection. Fortunately, eliminating or cutting back on smoking and alcohol can improve your sexual performance. If you need help quitting smoking or suffer from substance misuse contact your GP for support or other related helplines.
Lose weight and exercise regularly
Being overweight or obese is another risk factor that can contribute to ED. Men who are overweight are at higher risk of developing conditions like heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol and atherosclerosis, which can all lead to ED. Weight loss can improve erectile function; one study showed that over 30% of men who took part in a weight loss study for ED regained normal sexual function. They ate less calories and increased their weekly physical activity. A study conducted by University of the West of England in the UK discovered that pelvic exercises helped 40% of men with ED regain normal erectile function while helping an additional 33.5% significantly improve erectile function. Some exercises known to help ED include aerobic exercises, kegel exercises, and pilates.
These exercises target the pelvic muscles which are helpful for treating ED according to research. Perform workouts at home, join up to the gym or participate in the relevant exercise classes to keep you motivated and active.
Get sexually creative with your partner
Believe it or not, even if you have troubles achieving a firm erection, you and your partner can give each other sexual pleasure, and that’s including orgasms. All you need to do is get a little creative and spice up things in the bedroom to enhance arousal, stimulate other erogenous zones and intensify the pleasure. Instead of intercourse, why not try other forms of sex such as oral, kissing, touching one another (mutual masturbation), hugging and stroking, as these are other ways to get you and your partner hot under the collar. Indulge in some erotic activities such as giving each other sensual massages, having a romantic bath together, or even even invest in some fun and erotic sex toys.
Getting help for your erectile dysfunction
If you’re experiencing difficulties with erectile function, the tips above are some natural remedies for erectile dysfunction without medication or invasive surgery.
Addressing your ED issue can improve sex life, reduce stress and anxiety, heal relationship problems, avoid embarrassment and low self-esteem.
Remember, ED is quite common in men, so try and refrain from feeling ashamed or embarrassed.
According to the International Index of Erectile Function questionnaire, the severity of ED is often described as mild, moderate or severe. If you’re curious about the severity of your ED, take this erectile dysfunction test. NCBI reports what levels of ED indicate here.
If you are struggling to combat ED or think you may have severe symptoms, we recommend seeking extra support and advice. Make an appointment with your doctor to identify the cause of your erectile problems and get the appropriate treatment you need.