How Erectile Dysfunction Is Treated

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a common sexual disorder for which there are several treatment options.1 These range from taking medication or using a device to counseling, lifestyle changes, and natural remedies.

After a careful assessment of the pluses and minuses of each therapy (and often, a trial and error process), you and your doctor can choose the treatment or combination of treatments that is uniquely right for you.2

Lifestyle Changes

A variety of personal habits and lifestyle choices have been linked to ED. In some ways, this is a good thing, since habits can be altered and choices reconsidered.3

What’s more, many of the lifestyle factors that contribute to sexual problems are ones that affect overall health and well-being, both physical and mental. Addressing these factors, therefore, can have benefits beyond improving erectile dysfunction.

Get More Exercise

Regular physical activity improves blood circulation and decreases the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity, all of which can have an impact on sexual function.4

In fact, research shows that men who exercise more in midlife have a 70% lower risk of erectile dysfunction than sedentary men.5 In addition to preventing ED, physical activity has been found to improve ED.

Shed Extra Weight

Excess body fat may play a role in erectile dysfunction by promoting inflammation and converting testosterone to estrogen. According to one study, a third of obese men with erectile dysfunction regained sexual function after participating in a two-year weight loss program.6

Stopping Smoking

Smoking affects circulation in ways that can inhibit blood flow to the penis and affect the ability to achieve or sustain an erection.7 This is why male smokers are at an increased risk of developing ED, regardless of their age or underlying medical conditions.

That said, it remains unclear whether stopping smoking once a person has started will necessarily improve ED. Research suggests this may be only true in younger men who have a limited smoking history.8

Regardless, smoking cessation has many other health benefits, such as reducing heart disease and diabetes—two major causes of ED.

Eat Well

People who eat diets rich in whole-grain foods, vegetables, and fruits and low in red meat, full-fat dairy products, and sugary foods and drinks have a reduced risk of ED.

Similar to smoking, adopting healthy eating habits has other health benefits too, especially with regards to improving your heart health.9

Moderate Alcohol Consumption

Research has found that moderate alcohol intake (less than 21 drinks per week) may protect against ED—possibly because, in the long-term, alcohol can raise high-density lipoprotein (HDL or “good cholesterol”).9 There is still debate about whether excessive alcohol consumption negatively impacts ED.

Take Care of Your Teeth

Perhaps a less obvious lifestyle strategy is to see your dentist for regular teeth care. This is because, according to a review article of five studies involving more than 200,000 men, chronic gum disease (periodontitis) might be associated with a more than twofold increase in the risk of erectile dysfunction.10

Prescription Medications

The oral medications for erectile dysfunction—phosphodiesterase-5 (PDE5) inhibitors—work by enhancing the effects of nitric oxide, a naturally-occurring substance that relaxes blood vessels to allow blood to flow into the penis.11 With this effect in place, it’s possible to get an erection in response to sexual stimulation and to sustain it.

  • Cialis (tadalafil): May be effective within 60 to 120 minutes and may last up to 36 hours
  • Levitra or Staxyn (vardenafil): May be effective within 30 to 60 minutes and can last up to 10 hours
  • Stendra (avanafil): May be effective within 15 to 30 minutes and can last up to 12 hours

Keep in mind—for Viagra, Levitra, and Stendra—eating a high-fat meal may delay the absorption of the drug, which can prolong the time it takes to get an erection and diminish the drug’s overall effectiveness.12

In addition, PDE5 inhibitors do have some potential side effects—for example, flushing, headache, dyspepsia, and nasal congestion. They also cannot be taken with nitrates or Adempas (riociguat), a medication used to treat pulmonary hypertension.

Be sure to talk about PDE5 inhibitors with your doctor, making sure that they know your entire medical history and all other medications and supplements that you take.

If a PDE5 inhibitor is ineffective or contraindicated, your physician may have you try Caverject (alprostadil for injection), a hormone that you inject into your penis using a fine needle, or Muse (alprostadil urogenital), a tiny suppository that you insert into the tip of the penis.11 Both of these will bring on an erection within five to 15 minutes without sexual stimulation.

Erectile Dysfunction Doctor Discussion Guide

Get our printable guide for your next doctor’s appointment to help you ask the right questions.



  1. Reply


  2. Reply

    Good one

  3. Reply

    I wasn’t expecting to see “Care of teeth” as an effective way of treating erectile dysfunctions.
    This might be really helpful for individuals with such malfunction.
    Very interesting and informative update

  4. Reply

    Nice info

  5. Reply

    this is a good post. nice

  6. Reply


  7. Reply

    That’s good

  8. Reply

    Great article

  9. Reply

    Nice info

  10. Reply

    I believe the right exercises will go a long way to correct it

  11. Reply

    Great article

  12. Profile photo ofSIRMUSTY


    nice article

  13. Profile photo ofKreator


    nice article

  14. Reply

    Good post

  15. Reply

    Very educative article

  16. Reply

    Good sharing

  17. Reply

    Very interesting and informative update

  18. Reply

    Yea, food will play a great role, eat the right meal will sure help

  19. Reply

    Thanks for sharing the treatment…erectile dysfunction has really broken many marriages

  20. Reply


  21. Reply

    Very good
    Thanks for sharing

  22. Reply

    Thanks for the update

  23. Reply

    Thanks for sharing this update

  24. Reply


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