Erectile Dysfunction: Healthy Lifestyle Can ‘Reverse’ Male Impotence Without Medication

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Drugs like Viagra typically treat erectile dysfunction by increasing blood flow to the penis, but researchers say it can be done without the pills, too.

It’s no mystery that eating well and exercising benefits both our bodies and minds. For men, it can also help their sexual health stay in tip-top shape. New research suggests that guys who suffer from erectile dysfunction can reverse some of the symptoms of impotence without medication by making certain lifestyle adjustments.

According to the National Institutes of Health, erectile dysfunction affects about 26 per 1,000 men between the ages of 40 and 69. The risk increases with age, lower education, diabetes, heart disease and hypertension. While occasional erectile dysfunction is isn’t necessarily a cause for concern, persistent symptoms can cause stress and relationship problems and damage self-confidence.

Several factors can worsen or contribute to the onset of erectile dysfunction. They include heart disease, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, smoking and obesity.

Researchers from the University of Adelaide in Australia found that by losing weight, improving diet, getting better sleep, exercising more and drinking less alcohol, men with sexual dysfunction saw their symptoms vastly improve. According to the study, published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, 29 percent of men studied were able to reverse their problem by making changes to their lifestyles.  

“Sexual relations are not only an important part of people's well-being,” Gary Wittert, head of the Discipline of Medicine at the University of Adelaide and director of the university’s men’s health center, said in a statement. “From a clinical point of view, the inability of some men to perform sexually can also be linked to a range of other health problems, many of which can be debilitating or potentially fatal.”

Researchers collected data and followed 800 men over five years. About 31 percent of the study participants developed some form of erectile dysfunction.

"Our study found that a large proportion of men were naturally overcoming erectile dysfunction issues,” Wittert said. “This shows that many of these factors affecting men are modifiable, offering them an opportunity to do something about their condition.” That’s good news for the 25 to 30 percent of men for whom pills meant to correct erectile dysfunction don’t work

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