Your Health

Lifestyle Changes to Manage Erectile Dysfunction (Impotence)

The following lifestyle changes may help you during treatment for erectile dysfunction:

  • Manage your medical conditions.
  • Talk to your doctor about changing medications.
  • Maintain a healthful diet and exercise program.
  • Quit smoking.
  • Do not use recreational drugs.
  • Consider counseling.
  • Maintain the intimacy in your relationship.

Some cases of erectile dysfunction are due to chronic diseases of the lungs, liver, kidneys, heart, nerves, arteries, or veins. With your doctor’s help, you can manage conditions that could affect your ability to have an erection, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and depression.

If you suspect that your medications may be the problem, ask your doctor about changing or adjusting them. Medications for the following conditions are most commonly associated with erectile dysfunction as a side effect:

Eat a healthful diet, one that is low in saturated fat and high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

Begin and stick to a regular exercise plan. Choose exercises you enjoy and will make a regular part of your day. Strive to maintain an exercise program that keeps you fit and at a healthy weight. For many people, this includes walking or participating in an aerobic activity for 30 minutes per day. Exercise also can help you manage stress. Check with your doctor before starting any exercise program.

For more information about beginning an exercise program, click here.

Excessive tobacco use can also damage penile arteries. Quitting smoking reduces your risk of erectile dysfunction.

For information about quitting smoking, click here.

Chronic use of alcohol, marijuana, or other drugs, like cocaine, speed, or heroin, often causes erectile dysfunction, along with decreased sexual drive.

Psychological factors, such as stress, anxiety, and depression, account for 10%-15% of erectile dysfunction cases. Counseling can help you manage or prevent these emotions and interpersonal conflict. You may also want to try couples counseling.

Dealing with erectile dysfunction can be hard on a relationship. Sexual intercourse is a means of creating intimacy. There are other ways to create this level of intimacy with your partner. Explore different things you can do together to bring you closer, such as taking a bath, sharing a candlelit dinner, taking a long walk, just holding each other in bed, and talking and listening. Work at keeping the lines of communication open.

Revision Information

  • Cleveland Clinic. Treating erectile dysfunction: lifestyle changes. Cleveland Clinic website. Available at: http://my.clevelandclinic.org/disorders/erectile%5Fdisorder%5Fimpotence/hic%5Ftreating%5Ferectile%5Fdysfunction%5Flifestyle%5Fchanges.aspx. Accessed August 8, 2010.

  • Urology Care Foundation website. Available at: http://www.urologyhealth.org.