Can Erectile Dysfunction Go Away With Lifestyle Changes?

Healthy Diet For Erectile Dysfunction

Diet can be a significant source of chronic low-grade inflammation, which is related to the development of erectile dysfunction. Certain dietary patterns, particularly those that are anti-inflammatory, have been linked to erectile dysfunction. For instance, the Mediterranean diet, known for its anti-inflammatory properties, has shown a protective effect on erectile function in men with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes, along with a reduction in C-reactive protein levels. 

Here are some key dietary modifications that can help alleviate erectile dysfunction:


Flavonoids are a group of natural substances with variable phenolic structures found in fruits, vegetables, grains, bark, roots, stems, flowers, tea, and wine. Known for their beneficial health effects, flavonoids are being isolated for various applications. These compounds are essential in nutraceuticals, pharmaceuticals, medicine, and cosmetics due to their antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-mutagenic, and anti-carcinogenic properties. 

A 10-year prospective study of 25,096 middle-aged men revealed that those with the highest intake of flavonoids had a 9–11% lower incidence of erectile dysfunction compared to those who consumed less. The study further observed that the risk of erectile dysfunction decreased by 19% in men who regularly consumed five flavonoid-rich foods: strawberries, blueberries, apples, pears, and citrus fruits. This suggests that incorporating these fruits into your diet may help reduce the likelihood of erectile dysfunction.

Olive Oil 

Olive oil, a liquid fat obtained by pressing whole olives, has long been a staple of the Mediterranean diet. A 7-year study exploring the relationship between Mediterranean diets and erectile dysfunction highlights olive oil as a beneficial ingredient. However, the study explicitly examines virgin and extra virgin olive oil, as refining can alter the oil’s molecular structure.

Refining can destroy antioxidants and omega-3 anti-inflammatory properties, removing the beneficial effects that might aid in treating erectile dysfunction. Therefore, individuals looking to incorporate oils into their diets for erectile dysfunction and other health benefits should consider using unrefined and extra virgin olive oil.


Salmon, a commercially important species of ray-finned fish native to the North Atlantic and North Pacific, has shown promise in treating erectile dysfunction. A 2016 study on rats indicated that a higher intake of omega-3 fatty acids, abundant in salmon, helps reduce physiological damage and may subsequently lower the risk of erectile dysfunction.

The National Institutes of Health lists cold-water salmon as one of the best sources of omega-3. It’s worth noting that farm-raised salmon may contain fewer nutrients since omega-3 primarily comes from algae, which is not commonly found in fish farms. The omega-3 levels in farmed salmon depend mainly on their diet. For a higher intake of 

natural omega-3, consuming more wild salmon from cold waters is advisable.

Protein Rich Foods

Proteins are nitrogenous organic compounds with large molecules composed of one or more long chains of amino acids. They are essential for all living organisms, functioning as structural components of body tissues such as muscle and hair and as enzymes and antibodies.

One protein component that may benefit erectile dysfunction is l-arginine, an amino acid found in protein-rich foods. Research from 2017 suggests that l-arginine levels are lower in men with erectile dysfunction. The body uses l-arginine to produce nitric oxide, a molecule that widens and relaxes blood vessels, thereby increasing blood flow to the penis. Good sources of l-arginine include poultry, red meat, fish, nuts, and dairy products.

Regular Exercise For Erectile Dysfunction

Physical activity, especially aerobic exercise, can improve blood circulation, increase stamina, and help maintain a healthy weight, all of which can contribute to better erectile function. 

Aerobic Exercise and Erectile Dysfunction

Despite the well-known health benefits of regular aerobic exercise, there is limited high-quality evidence on its impact on erectile dysfunction. However, a recent study found that exercising for at least 30 minutes three times a week can be as effective as Viagra and similar medications at improving erectile function. The researchers reviewed the scientific literature and identified 11 randomised, controlled trials involving 1,100 men. In these studies, 600 men were assigned to “experimental” groups that exercised for 30 to 60 minutes three to five times a week, while 500 men were assigned to “control” groups with no exercise regimen.

The study found that the worse the erectile dysfunction, the more exercise helped. On a standardised scale of 6 to 30, men with severe erectile dysfunction who exercised reported a 5-point improvement in erectile function. Those with mild and moderate erectile dysfunction saw improvements of 2 and 3 points, respectively. For comparison, phosphodiesterase-5 inhibitors like Viagra or Cialis can lead to improvements of 4 to 8 points, while testosterone replacement therapy can lead to an improvement of 2 points. This study highlights the potential benefits of regular aerobic exercise as a natural and effective way to improve erectile function. Furthermore, studies have shown men who ran for an hour and a half or did three hours of rigorous outdoor work per week were 20% less likely to develop erectile dysfunction than those who didn’t exercise at all. Even more physical activity conferred an even more significant benefit: men who ran two and a half hours a week were 30% less likely to develop the condition than their sedentary counterparts. Interestingly, regardless of the level of exercise, men who were overweight or obese had a greater risk of erectile dysfunction than men with an ideal body mass index (BMI). This suggests that maintaining a healthy weight, along with regular physical activity, can significantly reduce the risk of erectile dysfunction.

Strengthening/Resistance Training and Erectile Dysfunction

Strength training, also known as weight training or resistance training, involves exercises designed to enhance strength and endurance. Typically, it includes lifting weights but can also encompass bodyweight exercises, isometrics, and plyometrics. The core idea is to progressively increase the force output of muscles using various exercises and equipment.

Primarily an anaerobic activity, strength training can also include aerobic elements, like circuit training. It improves muscle, tendon, and ligament strength and enhances bone density, metabolism, and the lactate threshold. Furthermore, strength training has been shown to improve joint and cardiac function and reduce injury risks. Beyond aerobic exercise, strengthening/resistance training has been shown to improve erectile function. Resistance/High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and Erectile Dysfunction

It is well-researched that higher testosterone levels improve erectile dysfunction. Interestingly, there is a causational relationship between strength training and testosterone levels. Resistance training emerges as a top exercise for enhancing both short- and long-term testosterone levels. A 2007 study found that men who engaged in strength training three times a week for four weeks experienced increased testosterone immediately after workouts and over time. However, these effects can vary; an older study showed a 21.6 per cent testosterone increase in men but only a 16.7 per cent increase in women following a single weightlifting session. Additionally, HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) has been proven to boost testosterone in men. For instance, a study demonstrated that interval training with intense running intervals for 90 seconds significantly raised free testosterone levels compared to continuous running.

Pelvic Floor Training and Erectile Dysfunction

One of the most effective forms of strength training that also drastically improves erectile dysfunction is pelvic floor exercises. Pelvic floor muscles are essential for normal erectile function. A study conducted at Somerset Nuffield Hospital in Taunton, UK, aimed to compare the effectiveness of pelvic floor muscle exercises and biofeedback with lifestyle changes alone for treating erectile dysfunction. The randomised controlled trial involved 55 men with a median age of 59.2 years. Twenty-eight participants engaged in pelvic floor exercises received biofeedback and made lifestyle changes, while 27 controls were advised only on lifestyle changes. After three months, the intervention group showed significant improvements in erectile function. These improvements continued for six months. When the control group switched to the intervention, they experienced similar benefits. By the end of the study, 40% of participants achieved normal erectile function, 34.5% showed improvement, and 25.5% did not improve. The study concluded that pelvic floor muscle exercises and biofeedback are effective treatments for erectile dysfunction.

Quality Sleep For Erectile Dysfunction

Sleep is a crucial part of your daily routine, consuming about one-third of your time. Quality sleep and getting enough of it at the correct times is as vital to survival as food and water. Without sleep, you can’t form or maintain the pathways in your brain that allow you to learn and create new memories, making concentrating and responding quickly harder. Sleep is integral to various brain functions, including how nerve cells (neurons) communicate with each other. Your brain and body remain pretty active during sleep. Recent research suggests that sleep has a housekeeping role, clearing out toxins in your brain that accumulate while awake. This cleansing process underscores the importance of sleep for overall brain health and function. Furthermore, ensuring adequate and quality sleep can improve overall health and help reduce ED symptoms.

Sleep Duration and Erectile Dysfunction

Adults should aim for 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night, as recommended by experts. Those who get less than 7 hours may face more health problems than those who hit the 7-hour mark or more. While sleeping more than 9 hours isn’t typically harmful, it can be beneficial for young adults, individuals recovering from sleep deprivation, and those who are ill.

Shift work, a common cause of short sleep, affects about 20% of the global workforce. It includes schedules like morning, night, and rotating shifts, often disrupting circadian rhythms and leading to short sleep. Studies suggest that men working night shifts experience poorer penile erection, likely due to short sleep and disrupted circadian rhythms. Non-standard shift workers are more prone to short sleep duration and related disorders, which are linked to hypogonadal symptoms and poor erectile function. These findings highlight the importance of sleep for erectile function, though shift work introduces confounding factors not present in typical sleep disorders. Recent research has explored the relationship between sleep and erectile dysfunction using both questionnaires and sleep monitors, finding that men with erectile dysfunction often have significantly shorter total and deep sleep durations compared to healthy individuals. 

Sleep Quality and Erectile Dysfunction

Sleep quality refers to how satisfied an individual feels with their overall sleep experience. It has four key components: sleep efficiency, sleep latency, sleep duration, and wakefulness after sleep onset. Factors influencing sleep quality include physiological aspects like age, circadian rhythm, body mass index, and sleep stages (NREM and REM); psychological aspects such as stress, anxiety, and depression; and environmental aspects like room temperature, device use and social commitments. Good sleep quality leaves you feeling rested, with normal reflexes and positive relationships. In contrast, poor sleep quality leads to fatigue, irritability, daytime dysfunction, slowed responses, and higher caffeine or alcohol consumption. Sleep quality has far-reaching effects, and emerging evidence points to its significant impact on sexual function. 

A study from 2015 found that just one additional hour of sleep was linked to a 14% boost in sexual activity. This highlights the crucial role of good sleep in maintaining healthy sexual function. The exact mechanisms linking sleep disorders to erectile dysfunction are not fully understood. Lack of sleep can lead to mood disorders, fatigue, and disruptions in hormone levels. Research has shown that sleep deprivation can reduce testosterone production in animal studies, which in turn affects sexual function. Similar findings have been observed in humans, where restricted sleep is linked to lower androgen levels in men, regardless of age. These studies suggest that disturbances in the sleep cycle may impact sexual function through a combination of psychological changes and hormonal imbalances. While testosterone plays a primary role in sexual performance and psychological well-being, other important factors like dopamine and cortisol also influence sexual activity by regulating sexual desire (dopamine) and competing with testosterone production (cortisol).

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