Great news for men and their partners: there is no shortage of quality, effective, and inexpensive treatments for erectile dysfunction (ED).
Oral medications like Viagra® (sildenafil), Cialis® (tadalafil), and Levitra® (vardenafil) are generally the first line of defense and recommended approach for men dealing with ED symptoms. These prescription oral meds are taken in the few hours before sex and work to create strong, lasting erections in more than 80% of men who try them.
While these medications are highly effective, common, and safe for most men, there are ways that you can keep an erection without taking pills.
For those curious about natural methods to keeping an erection, here’s the story.
What Causes Erectile Dysfunction?
Before covering your treatment options, it’s helpful to understand what causes erectile dysfunction.
Erections occur through a series of natural chemical and physiological reactions in the body. When physical or visual stimulation causes a man to become sexually aroused, the brain releases neurotransmitters and signaling substances that travel through your nervous system and blood stream.
One chemical, nitric oxide, helps to dilate the blood vessels and arteries in and around your penis. As blood flow increases, the penis becomes engorged; it can hold up to seven times its normal blood volume during an erection. As this happens, pressure also helps to squeeze veins that normally usher blood out of the penis, contributing to the penis’ firmness.
If there are any physical or psychological issues with this normal signalling process, erectile dysfunction can occur. Common causes of erectile dysfunction include:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Heart disease
- Injuries to the spine or pelvic area
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Low self-esteem
- Nerve disorders
- Metabolic syndrome
Many of these affect the cardiovascular system, the central engine to a strong erection. Likewise, issues affecting the nervous system can also make stimulation more challenging.
Natural Ways To Improve Erections and Erectile Strength
For most men, ED is related to cardiovascular health.
If you want to avoid prescription medications, the best way to treat erectile difficulties is to target this underlying factor. Men with diabetes, heart conditions, or obesity commonly deal with ED, and many patients report improved erections as they treat their underlying condition!
If you’re wondering where to begin or aren’t sure you’re ready to try pharmaceutical medications like Viagra, here are some natural, non-pharmaceutical ways to improve erectile strength.
Vacuum Pumps for ED
Using a vacuum pump can be a great way to achieve an erection without medication.
These devices – and there are many options! – create a vacuum around the penis, drawing blood into the penis and creating an erection for most men. They can be used to help with ED, but they can also be used for fun – vacuum pumps are a common sex toy for couples looking for some new excitement.
Vacuum pumps consist of a cylindrical chamber that is placed over the penis and pressed against the base of your pelvis, after which a manual or electric pump removes air from the cylinder. This process creates a vacuum and pulls blood into the penis.
A constriction band is often placed around the base of the penis to keep the blood trapped and the erection stronger for longer. A constriction band should not be worn for more than thirty minutes.
Get More Exercise
Without a steady and consistent supply of blood flowing into your penis, it’s impossible to achieve or keep an erection.
Your cardiovascular muscles and systems control your blood flow, especially the heart. Getting more exercise will help improve the strength of these muscles, create a more strong and consistent blood flow, and increase your heart’s efficiency. Get more aerobic exercise like walking, running, or rowing for best results. Try to get four moderately intense 40-minute sessions each week. You can see early results in as little as a few weeks and significant improvements after six months.
Eat A Healthier Diet
A poor diet creates a variety of health issues, and it can even contribute to erection difficulties.
An abundance of foods high in salt, sugar, and fat (like fried or processed foods) can lead to high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, obesity, and heart disease. Each of these conditions has a well-documented link to erectile dysfunction. You should cut back on these foods and increase the number of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins that you eat. This helps keep your arteries clear and reduces the likelihood of erectile dysfunction.
Maintain A Healthy Weight
By eating healthy and exercising, it will be easier to maintain a healthy weight.
One way that body weight is measured is through body mass index (BMI), a measure of your proportional height and weight for your age.
A BMI of 18-25 is considered healthy, 25-30 is overweight, and a BMI over 30 is considered obese. While not a perfect metric, it can be a decent indicator of health.
Importantly, a BMI of over 30 is associated with a 3-fold increased risk of erectile issues, and 79% of men with erectile dysfunction have a BMI of 25 or greater.
Smoking is not only terrible for your general health, it’s bad for erections too. In fact, smoking is the leading cause of erectile dysfunction in men under 40.
Smoke inhalation causes severe damage to your lungs, and the nicotine and chemicals in cigarette smoke constrict blood vessels and deplete nitric oxide levels, key to quality erections.
Quitting smoking can be one of the fastest ways to improve your erections and your overall health.
Lower Your Stress Levels
Stress and anxiety can cause erectile dysfunction and lead to depression, along with decreased self-esteem and low confidence. These mental health factors can severely impact your ability to become aroused or stay erect.
Reducing stress in your life can help reduce ED symptom severity. While stress may include financial or work-related stress, performance-anxiety or relationship stress can be acutely impactful to erection strength.
Hobbies, exercise, and mindfulness activities can help, but if you think stress is a major factor in your ED, consider counseling, therapy, or other forms of mental health assistance.
Limit Your Alcohol Intake
One or two drinks might help you relax, but drinking to excess regularly can impact your erections.
Drinking excessively long-term can cause high blood pressure, liver damage, and nervous system damage that can make getting or keeping an erection more challenging. Alcohol-induced nerve damage can lead to poor sensitivity and reduced blood flow, and alcoholism is a common risk factor for the development of ED.
In addition, being drunk can dilate blood vessels and make achieving an erection more difficult in the short-term.
Get Enough Sleep
People take sleep for granted, but it’s essential to your mental and physical health.
In fact, insufficient sleep and sleep disorders that cause reduced sleep can lead to your sexual performance suffering, according to research.
Sleep is the third pillar of your health, just behind diet and exercise. Those who get seven to nine hours of quality and uninterrupted sleep every night tend to have better long-term health outcomes, including better sexual performance.
When treating erectile dysfunction symptoms, it’s hard to beat the convenience and effectiveness of prescription medications. However, medication may not be for everyone due to side effects, potential interactions with other medications, or simply your own stance on pharmaceutical interventions.
The best approach to treating ED is to identify and rectify the root cause, which often includes cardiovascular conditions. If you’re unsure of the cause or you have erection issues despite treatments, the natural approaches above are all recognized ways to resolve ED without medications.
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