What is erectile dysfunction?
People with erectile dysfunction (ED) have difficulty getting and/or keeping an erection. The difficulty may be constant or occasional. While ED is sometimes called “impotence,” healthcare professionals have increasingly moved away from a term that can be perceived as pejorative or confused with nonmedical definitions of the word.
Erectile dysfunction is very common, affecting about 30 million men in the United States. It can be an uncomfortable subject for people. However, a healthy sex life positively impacts quality of life and health. Your doctor is trained to discuss sensitive material and may be able to help you address the issue when consulted.
It is also more common in older patients, but is not, itself, a natural consequence of aging.
ED can be frustrating in its own right, but it can also lead to any of the following:
- An unhappy sex life
- Loss of intimacy within the relationship
- Low self-esteem
- Difficulty when trying to get a woman pregnant
ED can occur on its own, but it may also result from the following disorders:
- High blood pressure
- Chronic kidney disease
- Heart disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Peyronie’s disease
- Prostate cancer
- Injury to the penis or surrounding organs
Psychological and emotional issues may also contribute to ED.
Three exercises for erectile dysfunction
General good health, particular cardiovascular, is important for sexual function. Avoiding obesity and belly fat can help you avoid and treat erectile dysfunction. A good diet and exercise should be part of your daily regimen.
The following three exercises may be particularly helpful:
Pelvic floor exercises
The most targeted exercise that you can do to help erectile dysfunction is strengthening your pelvic floor. Pelvic floor exercises can help men improve or even ultimately overcome ED.
Pull up on your pelvic floor. In order to do so, think of pulling in your genitals and lifting them up. Hold the muscles taut for five seconds before releasing for five. Try to perform ten repetitions several times a day.
Other than strengthening the pelvic floor, the most effective workout is aerobic. Aerobic exercise of moderate-to-vigorous intensity can help improve function and reduce other conditions that can contribute to ED such as high blood pressure and excess weight. Even a regular routine of gentle walking can contribute to penis health.
While not as effective as aerobic activity, anaerobic exercise has also proven to help improve sexual health and decrease factors that can contribute to ED. Examples of anaerobic exercise include high intensity interval training, sprinting, and heavy weight lifting.
If regular exercise doesn’t resolve the issue, consult with your doctor. There are other options available to treat erectile dysfunction. Your doctor may suggest any of the following:
- Oral drugs such as Viagra, Cialis, Levitra, or Stendra
- Testosterone therapy
- Penis injections
- Vacuum erection pumps
- Intraurethral medication
- Penile implants such as semi-rigid implants or inflatable implants
- Surgery to repair artery damage after trauma to the penis
In addition, your doctor may address underlying conditions. They may suggest counseling or medication changes. They also may suggest lifestyle changes, including increased exercise or dietary changes. It is also a good idea to avoid drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes.
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Andrologia: “Erectile dysfunction, physical activity and physical exercise: Recommendations for clinical practice.”
BJU International: “Pelvic floor exercises for erectile dysfunction.”
Coronary Artery Disease: “A Home-Based Walking Program Improves Erectile Dysfunction in Men with an Acute Myocardial Infarction.”
Harvard Health Publishing: “5 natural ways to overcome erectile dysfunction.”
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center: “Pelvic Floor Muscle (Kegel) Exercises for Men.”
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: “Erectile Dysfunction (ED).”
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