1. Remove Toxins
“Smoking is a two-pronged attacked on your arteries,” explains Shamsul, who is lead clinical pharmacist at online clinic Numan. “The free radicals generated by smoke inhalation can both damage the lining of the arteries and modify the LDL (i.e. bad cholesterol) within them. This means more fatty plaques and potentially more erectile issues as the penis is full of blood vessels and relies on healthy circulation.” Also try to avoid drinking more than 14 units of alcohol per week – alcohol is a depressant and can affect the nerve function that creates an erection.
2. Stock Up Your Fridge
The Mediterranean diet – fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes and nuts, unsaturated fats from olive oil, and less red meat and dairy – has been shown to prevent cardiovascular disease and help with erectile issues. “It’s worth increasing your overall intake of fruits and vegetables, which are packed with antioxidants and micronutrients,” says Shamsul. “They also help your body produce nitric oxide, which can boost the health of your erectile pathway. Also try to eat more nuts and legumes (such as peas and chickpeas), which are great for cardiovascular health, and contain high levels of folic acid – low levels of which can contribute to ED.”
3. Reduce The Risk
The risk of developing ED increases with age, says Shamsul, and those with diabetes are even more at risk. Studies also show men with high blood pressure, high cholesterol or low testosterone levels are at increased risk. In short, achieving control of any condition that affects your blood vessels allows for better erections by minimising long-term vascular damage.
4. Stay Active
“Optimal erectile function begins with good blood flow,” says Shamsul. “Keep your heart as healthy as you can, and those veins clean and functioning, and you’re off to the best start possible. The more muscles your body has to recruit for a particular exercise, the harder your heart works to pump blood, and the stronger and healthier it gets. Swimming is particularly effective as it uses multiple muscle groups.”
5. Brush Up
Did you know what’s going on in your mouth can affect you below the belt? Studies suggest men with gum disease are twice as likely to suffer from erectile issues than men with healthier gums. Health experts claim poor dental hygiene is linked to increased inflammation in the body, which can take its toll on the health of blood vessels, in turn affecting erectile function.
6. Hit The Hay
A recent study found sleeping less than five hours per night can reduce testosterone levels by 10% in just a few days. Plus, the balance of brain hormones that have an effect on your erection – including dopamine and serotonin – are regulated by your shut-eye. Aim for least seven or eight hours’ sleep every night.
7. Get Mindful
Relaxation is key to healthy erectile function. “Your body’s stress response activates the opposite side of your nervous system to the one needed for an erection,” says Shamsul. Put simply, if you’re not sufficiently relaxed, you’ll struggle to get or maintain an erection. There’s only been a small study on mindfulness techniques for ED specifically, but it showed encouraging results. Keen to give it a go? Activities combining movement with breathing techniques, such as yoga or tai chi, are a good place to start.
8. Try Losing Weight
“Men who are overweight have a significant risk of developing ED,” Shamsul says. “As many as 79% of men with ED have a body mass index over 25.” Studies suggest men with higher-than-average bodyweight tend to have lower levels of testosterone, a hormone vital for optimal sexual performance. Research also shows men who lose weight tend to show significant improvements in testosterone production.
9. Know When To Seek Help
As Shamsul explains, problems getting or keeping an erection can be a sign of an underlying health condition. “If you’re suffering from reduced sexual desire, or having trouble with your erection, talk to your doctor, however embarrassing this may be. Sometimes, treating an underlying condition is enough to reverse ED. In other cases, medications or other direct treatments may be needed.”
10. Consider CBT
“If you are suffering from ED, remember the cause can be physical, psychological or a combination of the two. ED can become a source of mental and emotional stress for you and your partner, but it’s vital to seek help and communicate openly and honestly about your condition,” advises Shamsul. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a form of talking therapy that focuses on identifying negative thoughts and behavioural patterns, and can be helpful. “CBT encourages the development of positive coping methods, which can be useful for men who struggle with negative ideas about themselves and poor self-esteem, both of which can impact sexual performance.”
Numan is an online clinic built for men, offering free online consultations and clinically proven treatments for conditions including ED, premature ejaculation and hair loss. For more information, visit Numan.com.