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What are natural treatments for erectile dysfunction?

Jan L. Shifren, MD
Reproductive Endocrinology
If you are looking for natural ways to sidestep or help reverse erectile dysfunction, skip the supplements and try these tips for a better sex life and general health. Improved mood and quality of life are added bonuses:
  1. Start walking. Just 30 minutes of walking a day was linked with a 41% drop in risk for erectile dysfunction, according to one Harvard study, while a separate trial reported that moderate exercise can help restore sexual performance in obese middle-aged men with erectile dysfunction.
  2. Eat right. Go bullish on fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and fish, while downplaying red and processed meat and refined grains, a diet that lessened the likelihood of erectile dysfunction in the Massachusetts Male Aging Study. Another tip: chronic deficiencies in vitamin B12 -- found in clams, salmon, trout, beef, fortified cereals, and yogurt -- may harm the spinal cord, potentially short-circuiting nerves responsible for sensation as well as for relaying messages to arteries in the penis. Multivitamins and fortified foods are the best bets for people who absorb B12 poorly, including many older adults and anyone with atrophic gastritis, a condition that may affect nearly one in three people ages 50 and older.
  3. Check your vascular health. Signs that put you on the road to poor vascular health include soaring levels of blood pressure, blood sugar, LDL (bad) cholesterol, and triglycerides; low levels of HDL (good) cholesterol; and a widening waist. Check with your healthcare provider to find out whether your vascular system -- and thus your heart, brain, and penis -- is in good shape or needs a tune-up through lifestyle changes and, if necessary, medications.
  4. Measure up. A trim waistline is one good defense -- a man with a 42-inch waist is 50% more likely to have erectile dysfunction than one with a 32-inch waist.
  5. Slim down. Tip the scales at a healthy weight. Obesity raises risks for vascular disease and diabetes, two major causes of erectile dysfunction. And excess fat tinkers with several hormones that may feed into the problem, too. Need more reasons? Slimming down helps with tips 3 and 4.
  6. Move a muscle. Actually, move several muscles of the pelvic floor, including the ischiocavernosus, which enhances rigidity during erections, and the bulbocavernosus, which helps keep blood from leaving the penis by pressing on a key vein.

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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.