Non-Medication Treatments for Erectile Dysfunction

Wednesday 26 May 2021
Erectile Dysfunction
5 minute(s) read

Table of Contents

I. Overview

II. Weight loss

III. Food and Drink

IV. Counseling

V. Smoking 


Erectile dysfunction (ED or impotence) is a common condition that prevents men from getting or maintain an erection that is firm enough to have sexual intercourse. Erectile dysfunction can affect men of any age, although it is more common as men get older. In the United States alone, approximately 30 million men have a form of erectile dysfunction. [1]

The most common method of treating erectile dysfunction is with oral medication. Prescription medications such as Viagra, Cialis, and Levitra work by relaxing the smooth muscles inside the penis and increasing blood flow around the body. When sexually stimulated, these drugs help blood flow into the penis, which allows males to get and keep an erection.

However, as well as medications, there are also other treatments that can help improve the symptoms of erectile dysfunction. These treatments may be used alone or in combination with an ED medication. Keep reading to learn about other methods to reduce erectile dysfunction symptoms.

Weight loss

Almost four-fifths of men who are considered overweight or obese have erectile problems. The risk of erectile dysfunction increases with an increasing BMI (body mass index). In fact, it may be surprising to learn that obesity is more likely to lead to erectile dysfunction than aging is. [2]

Erectile dysfunction caused by obesity is a reversible problem. Therefore, losing weight can be a natural way to improve the symptoms of erectile dysfunction. There will not be a magical point when erections suddenly become consistently firm enough for sexual intercourse. However, if a male continues to lose weight and exercise more, erections may gradually get better and last for a longer period of time. [3]

Feet standing on a set of scales

Weight loss can also help to reduce the risk of other conditions or diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and high cholesterol. These conditions may be partially caused by obesity and can also lead to ED. Additionally, weight loss can improve self-esteem and mental health.

A doctor or dietician can help to plan a weight loss program. This can include exercise or a healthier diet. Regular exercise does not need to be extensive or intensive in order to make a big difference. Harvard research suggests that 30 minutes of daily walking can reduce the risk of ED by up to 41 percent. [4]

Cycling can be an excellent way of exercising and short rides are unlikely to worsen ED. However, regular or extended cycling may cause or worsen ED due to excessive pressure between the scrotum and anus. Men that cycle regularly should ensure that their bike is the correct size, stand up frequently while cycling, and wear padded pants or shorts. [5]

Food and Drink

As explained above, weight loss can help to improve the symptoms of erectile dysfunction and a man’s diet can play a big part in that.

However, as well as consuming fewer calories, there are also specific foods and food groups that may help with erectile dysfunction.

 An unhealthy diet can lead to other health issues. Heart problems are a major medical cause of erectile dysfunction. Eating a lot of processed, fried, and fatty foods with a lack of fruit and vegetables can be damaging to the heart and blood flow. Eating a healthy diet can help men to keep their body and heart-healthy and contributes to the ability to have firm erections. [5]

Being able to get and maintain an erection requires a good blood flow around the body. Compounds known as flavonoids can help increase blood flow. Foods that are high in flavonoids include dark chocolate, berries, and other fruits. [6]

A plate of berries

Alcohol, especially excessive or frequent drinking, can cause or worsen erectile dysfunction. Alcohol can cause decreased blood volume and cause damage to the nervous system, which is responsible for causing an erection. Reducing alcohol intake or completing stopping drinking alcohol may decrease the symptoms of erectile dysfunction. [7]

Other foods that may improve the symptoms of erectile dysfunction include pistachios, watermelon, shellfish, and tomatoes. [8] [9]


Erectile dysfunction can be caused by psychological factors as well as medical conditions. When erectile dysfunction is caused by a psychological factor there are several common treatments. These include individual counseling, couples counseling, sex therapy, and talk therapy.

Common psychological causes of ED include stress, anxiety, depression, and relationship troubles. Therapy sessions for ED are usually short term, lasting between 5 and 20 sessions and is unlikely to be effective if canceled after only one or two sessions. Psychological counseling for erectile dysfunction is most effective when it involves the man and his sexual partner. Research shows that when a partner is involved in the treatment, erectile dysfunction is resolved 50 – 70 percent of the time. If a man goes through counseling without his sexual partner, the success rate is lower. [10]


Smoking is another risk factor that can cause or worsen erectile dysfunction and is often the cause of ED in younger men. Using tobacco can restrict blood flow around the entire body, including blood vessels inside the penis. These effects are reversible and quitting smoking should result in an improvement in the symptoms of erectile dysfunction [11].

Cigarette butts in an ashtray

As well as directly causing or worsening ED, tobacco can also indirectly cause erectile dysfunction by causing chronic health conditions. Conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes can be caused or worsened by smoking. These conditions may then themselves cause or worsen erectile dysfunction.

Quitting smoking can be difficult but can have a big effect on erectile dysfunction and general health. Common methods of quitting include prescription medications such as Chantix, paying attention to possible smoking triggers, including alcohol, or seeking group or single therapy. [11]

The content in this article is intended for informational purposes only. This website does not provide medical advice. In all circumstances, you should always seek the advice of your physician and/or other qualified health professionals(s) for drug, medical condition, or treatment advice. The content provided on this website is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.