Can erectile dysfunction (ED) be prevented?

For people who are at risk of developing ED due to personal behavior, steps may be taken to try to prevent its occurrence. However, other causes may not be preventable.

A number of studies now suggest a link between ED and obesity, high cholesterol, hypertension, diabetes and heart disease.

The following recommendations may help prevent ED or improve the problem if it is already present:

  • Eat a healthy diet. A diet that limits saturated fat intake and includes several portions of fruits, vegetables and whole grains can benefit men with ED.
  • Reduce cholesterol. High cholesterol can harden, narrow or block the arteries (atherosclerosis) leading to the penis. Men can lower cholesterol through diet, exercise and medication.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Exercise regularly. Regular exercise may reduce the risk of ED. Choose exercises that you enjoy and will make a regular part of your day. In addition to reducing the risk of ED, exercise also can help you manage stress. Check with your doctor before starting any exercise program.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 10/14/2019.

References

  • US Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Erectile Dysfunction. Accessed 10/18/2019.
  • Urology Care Foundation. What is Erectile Dysfunction? Accessed 10/18/2019.
  • American Academy of Family Physicians. Diagnostic Evaluation of Erectile Dysfunction. Accessed 10/18/2019.
  • McVary KT. Chapter 48. Sexual Dysfunction. In: Longo DL, Fauci AS, Kasper DL, Hauser SL, Jameson J, Loscalzo J. eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 18e. New York: McGraw-Hill; 2012.

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