Erectile function depends on a variety of factors, including inadequate blood flow as well as a number of physical and mental health problems such as a sedentary lifestyle, poor diet, and stress. Fortunately, there are quite a few things you can do to improve your overall penile health without the use of medication or other measures.
1. Keep track of your diet
A heart-healthy diet is an excellent place to start improving erectile function. Research has shown that the same eating patterns that may cause heart attacks due to restricted blood flow in the coronary arteries can also impede blood flow to and within the penis.
Instead, try to maintain a traditional heart-healthy Mediterranean diet, which includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and a variety of healthy fats including nuts and olive oil, fish, and wine, particularly red. Additionally, reduce your intake of processed foods, sugars, and red meat.
2. Exercise regularly
Unfortunately, strong evidence links a sedentary lifestyle to issues with erectile function. Running, swimming, and other forms of aerobic exercise have been shown to help improve erectile function and overall health. On average, your heart beats 100,000 times a day and pumps more than 2,000 gallons of blood throughout your body; it’s a strong muscle, and one of the best ways to maintain its health is through exercise. Regular exercise also increases stamina, strength, and flexibility.
3. Get more sleep and curb stress
Lack of sleep can cause a number of health issues, including slowing your metabolism, weakening the immune system, and increasing heart problems. Sleep deprivation and even sleep apnea can also lower testosterone levels; and a dip in testosterone can ultimately lower your libido. That’s why experts recommend getting at least seven to nine hours of sleep every night.
Additionally, psychological stress boosts levels of the hormone adrenaline, which makes blood vessels contract. Anything you can do to ease tension and feel better emotionally will ultimately improve erectile function. Try doing something that relaxes you at least once per day or a few times a week, particularly during stressful times.
4. Avoid high blood pressure and high cholesterol
High cholesterol or high blood pressure can damage blood vessels, including those that bring blood to the penis, which can damage erectile function. At your next doctor’s appointment, make sure your doctor checks your cholesterol levels and blood pressure. You might also want to check your blood pressure between doctor visits; some stores and pharmacies offer free screenings.
If your cholesterol or blood pressure is out of whack or a bit too high, be sure to get it treated sooner rather than later. Both blood pressure and cholesterol play a big role in overall physical health and are much easier to remedy before they get out of hand.
5. Monitor testosterone levels
In some cases, a low testosterone level can contribute to reduced erectile function; even in healthy men, testosterone levels can begin falling around age 50. Symptoms like low sex drive, moodiness, lack of stamina, or trouble making decisions suggest a testosterone deficiency, as do issues with erectile function. If you think you might have low testosterone, consult with your healthcare provider. Several inexpensive and non-invasive treatment options are available.
For other ways to improve erectile function, take a look at our list of effective penile exercises.