How to Cope With Erectile Dysfunction

Four Methods:Treating ED PhysicallyTreating ED MedicallyTreating ED MentallyCommunicating With Your Partner

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is when a man has trouble getting and maintaining an erection long enough to have sex. This is frequently because of a physical condition like high blood pressure or fatigue; in fact, physical conditions and issues are the most common cause of ED.[1] Almost all men will experience ED at some point in their lives, although this fact doesn't make the experience any less difficult. Improperly treated ED can cause relationship problems and self-esteem issues for men and their partners. Fortunately, ED is treatable and manageable, and you can take several steps to alleviate the problem and ensure it doesn't happen again.

Method 1
Treating ED Physically

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    Increase your level of physical activity. Erectile dysfunction is often related to blood flow and circulation. Being sedentary or overweight can result in poor circulation, increasing the risk of ED. By keeping your blood flowing at a healthy pace, you can improve your sexual performance and alleviate or prevent erectile dysfunction. Commit to getting exercise every day to improve symptoms of ED.[2]
    • You don't have to start running marathons to see results. One study demonstrated that just 30 minutes of walking a day reduced ED risk up to 40%.[3]
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    Maintain a healthy diet. A healthy diet is good for your overall health, and this will benefit your sexual performance. Eating right will give you the nutrients you need for energy and good circulation, while also helping you maintain a healthy weight.[4][5]
    • Cut out saturated fats, processed sugar, and enriched wheat. These foods can clog your arteries and increase your cholesterol levels. Both will lead to poor circulation that could contribute to ED.
    • Eat more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. These foods will help keep your cholesterol low, give you a healthy blood pressure, and improve circulation.
    • Vitamin B12 deficiency has been suspected to contribute to ED. You can remedy this with a daily multivitamin or eating shellfish, dairy products, and fortified cereals.[6]
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    Strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. These muscles help keep blood in the penis to maintain an erection. Weak pelvic muscles can let blood escape and contribute to ED.[7]
    • You can strengthen the pelvic muscles with Kegel exercises. These are usually recommended for women, but men can benefit from them as well.[8]
    • To do Kegels, you'll have to flex the muscles you would use to hold urine in.
    • Tighten these muscles for five seconds, then relax for five seconds. Do this four or five times in a row.
    • Repeat three times daily.
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    Quit smoking. Among other health problems, smoking causes poor circulation. This will decrease blood flow and make it difficult to get and maintain an erection. If you smoke, it's best to quit as soon as possible to benefit not only your sex life, but your overall health.[9]

Method 2
Treating ED Medically

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    Visit the doctor. There are several medical reasons you could be having ED: high or low blood pressure, poor circulation, high cholesterol, medications you're on, recreational drug use, and a long list of others.[10] To narrow down the list, you'll have to visit your doctor. He can perform a full workup and determine what's causing your problem.
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    Take medication to help with ED. There are a number of drugs designed to treat and improve ED. When your doctor examines you, she may determine that these drugs are your best option. Some of the most common drugs include:[11]
    • Sildenafil (Viagra)
    • Tadalafil (Cialis)
    • Vardenafil (Levitra, Staxyn)
    • Avanafil (Stendra)
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    Receive testosterone replacement. For some men, low testosterone is the cause of their ED. Lack of this hormone can make it difficult to get and stay aroused. Your doctor can confirm if you suffer from low testosterone with a blood test. If this test confirms that you have low testosterone, then you can begin hormone therapy to fix the problem.[12]
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    Try implants or pumps. If you can't find any other solution to your ED, the doctor may recommend a pump or penile implant. These devices will allow you to inflate the penis and maintain an erection to have sex. They are usually only recommended when all other options have been tried.[13]

Method 3
Treating ED Mentally

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    Avoid dwelling on the problem. For many men, ED will only occur once or twice and isn't an indication of anything more serious. Once it happens, however, men often have anxiety about it and think about it when having sex. This anxiety can actually cause ED, so dwelling on the problem will only make it worse.[14]
    • If ED happens once, do your best to brush it off as a one-time occurrence. Attribute it to being tired or stressed.
    • Stay focused on the moment at hand. When you and your partner are getting intimate, don't think about the past. This will cause you to think about your past ED. Instead, just be mindful of the present moment and focus on the pleasant sensations you and your partner are sharing.
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    Take sex more slowly. Rushing through intimacy can cause you to feel like you only have a set amount of time to satisfy your partner. This can cause anxiety that might make it difficult to maintain an erection. Instead, focus more on foreplay and exploring with your partner. That way, you'll allow your body and mind to relax. As a result, your sexual performance will benefit.[15]
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    Reduce your stress level. A high level of stress can cause ED and make it worse. Stress can do several things that will hurt your sex life: it can lower your sex drive, make it difficult to get an erection, make you tire quickly, and generally not put you in a good mood. Reduce your stress level for an improvement in your sex life and overall health.[16]
    • Read Reduce Stress for some great tips on reducing your stress levels.
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    Consider that you may be depressed. Depression is another major psychological cause of ED. It often leads to feelings of inadequacy, insecurity, and other emotions that kill sex drive. Think about the symptoms of depression and if you exhibit them, seek psychological help to overcome the problem.[17][18]
    • Feelings of hopelessness or helplessness. These don't need to focus on any particular situation. You may just feel like you're stuck in a rut and will never be able to get out of it.
    • Sleep changes. Both insomnia and oversleeping can indicate depression, so pay attention if you've been having any sudden sleep disturbances.
    • Lack of energy or fatigue.
    • Trouble concentrating and completing tasks.
    • Loss of interest in daily activities, especially ones you used to enjoy.
    • Unexplained aches and pains all over your body. These can include muscle aches, headaches, and upset stomach.
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    Limit your consumption of pornography. Watching pornography can gradually desensitize you to real-life sex. The result can be a lack of arousal with your partner. To avoid this outcome, it's best to cut off or limit your consumption of pornography. That way, you'll gradually get re-sensitized to real-life sex acts.[19]
    • If you can't stop using pornography entirely, stick to viewing materials that closely represent what you do with your partner. That way, you can prevent getting desensitized by viewing things that would never happen in your life.
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    Consult a therapist. Besides what has already been mentioned, there are a number of psychological issues that could be causing your ED. If you can't get to the bottom of the issue, then seeing a mental health professional would be beneficial. He can help talk through your issues and narrow down what might be going on.[20]
    • Having your partner come to these sessions would also be beneficial, as you two can work through the problem together as a couple.

Method 4
Communicating With Your Partner

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    Keep your partner informed about what's going on. While you may be embarrassed about your ED, shutting your partner out is not the answer. The problem involves both of you, and your partner will end up feeling distant and neglected if you don't keep her or him involved in your life. Make every effort to talk with your partner about what's going on. The outlook is generally much better for men who involve their partner in the healing process. [21]
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    Ask for your partner's help and support. Erectile dysfunction is like any other problem in a relationship, and requires both partners to fully fix. You may have to attend doctor's appointments and therapy sessions to treat your ED, and it would be great to have your partner there for you. [22]
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    Reassure your partner that the problem isn't him or her. Men and women with a partner struggling with ED often blame themselves for not satisfying their partner. Most often, however, it is a physical or mental issue with the man, not his partner. You need to make this clear to your partner, otherwise he or she may internalize the problem and feel like the cause.[23]
    • Reassure your partner that you're committed to the relationship, and this isn't a sign that you aren't interested.
    • Stress that you're not having an affair or are interested in someone else. Some partners see ED as a sign of an affair, but this is not true an overwhelming majority of the time. Prevent suspicion and negative feelings in your partner by assuring him or her of this.[24]
    • Of course, don't lie to your partner. If there is a problem with the relationship, you need to communicate this. Tell your partner if he or she does something sexually that you don't like, or if you have sexual needs that aren't being met.
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    Talk with your partner about your sex life. Dissatisfaction with your sex life could be a contributing factor to your ED. Have an honest conversation with your partner about your needs. Keeping your needs to yourself could make the problem worse.[25]
    • Keep this conversation friendly and blame-free. This is a sensitive topic, and your partner may feel like he or she failed you by not meeting a sexual need. Assure your partner that you're committed to the relationship, and that this is a way to strengthen the relationship.
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    Consider going to counseling with your partner. Erectile dysfunction can put a strain on any relationship, even if you've properly communicated with your partner. If you and your partner are having trouble getting through this, try going to therapy together. A counselor can help you work through your problems and remain strong as a couple.[26]


  • Isolated incidents of erectile problems are not uncommon and are not necessarily an indication of a larger problem. Most men experience trouble getting or keeping an erection at some point in life.
  • Before you consider purchasing a product for ED not prescribed by your physician, you should determine if the product is legitimate.


  • Each of the three oral medications available to help with ED are effective in up to 70 percent of men who try them. All work in much the same way; the differences are primarily in their duration, each drug's onset time, and their side effects.
  • Feeling embarrassed about ED should never prevent you from discussing it with your doctor. Erectile problems could be a symptom of other medical conditions that require treatment, such as heart disease, liver disease or diabetes.

Sources and Citations

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Categories: Men's Health | Reproductive Health