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What lifestyle changes can help reduce my risk of erectile dysfunction?

Madeleine M. Castellanos, MD
Psychiatry
Staying healthy won't necessarily cure erectile dysfunction (ED), but it can help treat and prevent the conditions that cause ED or make it worse. You may be able to improve your erections by taking good care of yourself. To help reduce your risk of ED:
  • Don't smoke: Nicotine is a very strong vasoconstrictor, which means that it causes arteries to tighten and prevents blood flow to the arteries of the penis. Studies show that men who smoke are more likely to develop ED than nonsmokers. Smoking also increases the risk of heart disease (a risk factor for ED).
  • Get moving: Exercise reduces the odds of heart disease and other risk factors for ED, boosts levels of nitric oxide (needed for erections), helps maintain a healthy weight, and relieves stress.
  • Eat well: According to a report published May 25, 2010 on the website for the journal Fertility and Sterility, certain foods and nutrients can increase nitric oxide (needed for erections ) while others can lower it. Men should reduce their consumption of sugar and increase their intake of omega-3 fatty acids (found in fatty fish like salmon), vitamins C and E, folic acid, and calcium.
  • Stress less: You can't eliminate stress, but you can manage your reaction to it. Guys can blow off steam through exercise, deep breathing, and other relaxation techniques.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.