Erectile dysfunction

04 September 2017

7 ways to get stronger erections

Keep the wind in your sails and prevent erectile dysfunction by making these lifestyle changes.

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Erectile dysfunction (ED) refers to the inability to get an erection and have satisfying sex, which can cause distress for couples. In order to have an erection, there needs to be proper functioning of the muscles, blood flow and nerves.

While erectile dysfunction can have psychological causes, it tends to be a sign of underlying medical issues. It is therefore very important to discuss ED with an urologist or GP.  

There are many options to to treat erectile dysfunction, but there are also several ways to prevent it from happening in the first place:

1. Adapt your diet

The same foods that can cause heart disease can also cause ED. As ED is caused by insufficient blood flow to the penile area, include foods that stimulate circulation by incorporating leafy greens (nitrates), dark chocolate (flavonoids), oysters and shellfish (zinc) in your diet.

Antioxidants like lycopene found in fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes, berries and watermelon can also help prevent erectile dysfunction as these lower your risk of heart disease. A general rule of thumb is that any food that is good for heart health and circulation will also help prevent ED.

Healthy eating can prevent erectile dysfunction

2. Maintain a healthy weight

An unhealthy weight can put you at risk for many chronic diseases, but it it is especially type 2 diabetes that can affect the nerve system and lead to ED. Extra weight can also result in an unhealthy heart, causing unhealthy circulation, ultimately leading to ED.

An unhealthy weight can cause erectile dysfunction

3. Maintain healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels

Along with a healthy weight, it is important to keep your vitals in check. Go for regular check-ups to sort out any irregularities in your blood pressure and cholesterol. Several studies have revealed that increased cholesterol levels can limit healthy erections as the arteries become clogged, impairing healthy circulation. 

Prevent erectile dysfunction by keeping blood pres

4. Keep tabs on your medication

Studies have shown that several medications can cause ED. If you are concerned that your current medication might be causing ED, don't hesitate to discuss this with your doctor. Several kinds of drugs used for the treatment of high blood pressure, as well as some antidepressants can have an impact on your sex drive and ability to get an erection. 

Certain medications can cause erectile dysfunction

5. Drink alcohol moderately

While there is no concrete link between alcoholic beverages and ED, regular heavy drinking can cause ED as it can lead to nerve damage and an imbalance in the the male sex hormones, studies have found.

Alcohol can contribute to erectile dysfunction

6. Avoid anabolic steroids

Recreational use of anabolic steroids among athletes and bodybuilders has been proven to be a cause of ED, as reported in this article in the Western Journal of Medicine. It happens because anabolic steroids literally shrink the scrotum, leading to lower levels of testosterone. 

how to prevent erectile dysfunction

7. Stop smoking ASAP

Smoking has a negative effect on your entire body and increases your risk for high blood pressure, heart conditions and many other chronic diseases. And it damages your blood vessels, ultimately leading to weaker circulation, which, yes, you guessed it, can lead to ED.

Smoking can cause erectile dysfunction

Image credit: iStock.

 

Ask the Expert

Erectile Dysfunction Expert

Dr Kenny du Toit is a urologist practicing in Rondebosch, Cape Town. He is also consultant at Tygerberg hospital, where he is a senior lecturer at Stellenbosch University. He is a member of the South African Urological Association, Colleges of Medicine South Africa and Société Internationale d’Urologie. Board registered with both the HPCSA (Health professions council of South Africa) and GMC (General medical council UK). He has a keen interest in oncology, kidney stones and erectile dysfunction.http://www.dutoiturology.co.za

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