Erectile dysfunction (ED), also known as impotence, is a very common health problem. According to the Massachusetts Male Aging Study, it is estimated that half of all men experience erectile dysfunction at some point. At age 40, about 40 percent of men suffer from this condition, and it is more common at older ages.
ED is a condition where a man is not able to achieve or sustain an erection. It can lead to low self-esteem, depression and guilt.
A range of causes of ED can be broadly classified into two categories—physical and mental (psychological). According to the BBC Health, about 70 percent of impotence cases have medical causes and about 30 percent have psychological causes.
- Physical causes include narrowing of the blood vessels due to high blood pressure (hypertension), high cholesterol, diabetes, hormonal changes due to aging, surgery or injury, thyroid problems, kidney issues, heavy smoking, obesity, excessive drinking, nutritional deficiencies, certain prescription medications and treatments for prostate cancer or enlarged prostate.
- Psychological causes include anxiety, depression, stress, and other mental health issues and relationship problems.
This problem may resolve if the underlying cause is treated. You can also try some home remedies.
As ED may be a sign of a serious health problem, it’s important to check with your doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Here are the top 10 home remedies for erectile dysfunction.
Garlic is believed to help deal with erectile dysfunction as it contains allicin which helps improve blood flow. A small study, Dr. Graham Jackson, consultant cardiologist at Guys and St Thomas’ NHS Trust found that eating four cloves of garlic daily for three months helped improve erection in six out of seven volunteers suffering from ED.
- Chew three to four cloves of garlic daily.
- Another option is to heat a few garlic cloves with a little bit of clarified butter on low flame until they turn golden brown. Eat these garlic cloves daily.
- Also, you can mix together one teaspoon each of garlic powder and cayenne pepper powder and have it with water a few hours before going to bed.
Almonds are considered a great aphrodisiac and people have been using it for thousands of years. Being high in vitamin E, almonds promote healthy blood flow and circulation in the body. Also, almonds are rich in zinc, manganese and copper.
- Mix one tablespoon of powdered almond in a glass of warm milk. Drink this daily before you go to bed.
- Alternatively, soak a handful of almonds in water for a few hours. Eat these almonds daily, 30 minutes before you go to bed.
Try either of these remedies for one month to notice a difference in your condition.
Onions also contain aphrodisiac qualities. Plus, they help treat involuntary loss of semen during sleep or other times.
- Slice one to two large white onions. Fry the slices in clarified butter on low flame until they turn brown. Eat them with one tablespoon of honey daily before having your dinner.
- Alternatively, finely chop two large onions and steep them in two cups of warm water for 10 minutes. Drink half a cup of this liquid three times daily for one month.
Chinese herbalists consider carrots a good remedy for treating ED due to their aphrodisiac qualities and high beta-carotene content.
- Blend three medium-size carrots, three celery stalks, half of a medium-size beetroot and one to two garlic cloves in a juicer. Drink a glass of this juice once or twice daily.
- Drinking a glass of warm milk along with two tablespoons of grated carrot is another option.
- Eating salads including raw carrots daily can also help.
5. Pomegranate Juice
Daily consumption of antioxidant-rich pomegranate can protect men against erectile dysfunction. It aids blood circulation and also helps reduce stress. Plus, it helps increase the nitrite oxide level in the body which in turn increases blood circulation.
A small-scale pilot study in 2007 also found that pomegranate juice is effective. However, further studies are still required to get statistically significant results.
- Drink a glass of pomegranate juice daily.
- You can also take pomegranate supplements. Consult your doctor before taking supplements.
6. Pelvic Floor Exercises
Pelvic floor exercises can successfully restore erectile function in men with ED. According to a BJU International study done in 2005, pelvic floor exercises can provide a long-term solution for ED. They help strengthen the muscles located at the base of the penile muscle.
While doing pelvic floor exercises, you must pay attention to releasing and tightening the pelvic muscles. This also promotes urinary continence.
It is recommended to learn these exercises from an expert and then do them on your own. Do these exercises daily for at least three months to get positive results.
7. Korean Red Ginseng
Korean red ginseng, also known as Asian ginseng or Chinese ginseng, can also be very effective for treating ED.
In a study published in the Journal of Urology, 45 men suffering from erectile dysfunction were given either Korean red ginseng or a placebo. Those who were given 900 milligrams of Korean red ginseng supplement three times daily for eight weeks noticed improvement in their symptoms.
The recommended dosage for Korean red ginseng is between 600 and 1,000 mg three times daily. It is best to discuss with your doctor before taking this supplement as it can interact with other drugs and may cause allergic reactions.
L-arginine is an amino acid that increases nitric oxide levels in the body. Nitric oxide increases blood circulation and facilitates erections by dilating blood vessels in the penis.
According to a 1999 study published in the British Journal of Urology International, men with erectile dysfunction who took 5 grams of L-arginine daily noticed huge improvements in their condition.
- Eat protein-rich foods like meat, chicken, fish, peas, and nuts and seeds that contain L-arginine in high amounts.
- You can also take L-arginine supplements after consulting your doctor.
According to herbalists, ginger is another good remedy. It has aphrodisiac properties that help relieve impotency and premature ejaculation. Plus, the active compounds in ginger like gingerol, shogaol and zingiberene stimulate blood circulation.
- Mix one-half teaspoon of ginger juice with one soft-boiled egg and one tablespoon of honey. Eat this mixture once daily before going to bed for a month.
- Another option is to prepare a mixture of two teaspoons each of ginger paste and honey. Have it three times daily for one to two months.
- You can also drink two to three cups of ginger tea daily.
Acupuncture has also been used to treat problems like ED for years. It can improve the quality of erection in men. A 2003 pilot study published in the International Journal of Impotence Research also found acupuncture helpful in the treatment of psychogenic erectile dysfunction.
In this ancient Chinese practice, a practitioner inserts hair-thin needles into specific points in the wall of the abdomen. This in turn restores the proper flow of energy in the body.
If you opt for this treatment, make sure to have it done by a trained practitioner.
- If you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol or high blood sugar, get it treated.
- Make it a priority to do physical exercise at least four times a week.
- Quit smoking as it can make your condition worse.
- Avoid excess drinking as alcohol can have a huge impact on erections.
- Reduce your stress level.
- Foods rich in zinc and omega-3 fatty acids must be part of your regular diet.
Expert Answers (Q&A)
Answered by Dr. Daniel C. Edwards, DO (Urologist)
Can any dietary changes help with erectile dysfunction?
Erectile dysfunction can be secondary to psychological causes, hormonal imbalances, neurologic dysfunction, or most commonly, vascular disease. Early signs of erectile dysfunction in an aging male could signal progressive arterial disease or diabetic arteriopathy.
With dietary modification and physical activity, erectile dysfunction might be reversible in these cases. Dietary changes will not affect erectile dysfunction caused by neurological, psychological, or hormonal causes.
Is coffee beneficial for ED?
Coffee is a stimulant and may increase blood flow to the entire body and may have a mild effect on a mild case of erectile dysfunction, though research has largely been inconclusive. Too much coffee may increase anxiety, which would have a counterproductive effect on erectile function.
Which exercises might be helpful when suffering from ED?
Any exercise will help improve blood flow and arterial health. Exercise programs, especially for inexperienced or inactive people, should be undertaken after an examination by a healthcare provider. Aerobic activity, resistance training, and even walking can have a positive effect.
Can ED be cured without any medication?
The ability to cure ED depends on the type of ED as diagnosed by a trained medical professional. ED related to psychological causes may be cured without medication and mild ED related to vascular causes may improve with diet and exercise, but these must first be evaluated by a physician.
Can ED happen suddenly?
For erectile dysfunction to occur sporadically, situationally, or suddenly after previously having healthy erections, it is more likely to be of a psychogenic nature. Other causes of ED tend to be progressive over time or secondarily related to a medical event (such as prostate cancer surgery).
Please provide some useful tips to our readers to tackle erectile dysfunction.
It is not normal for males to have erectile dysfunction; furthermore, it is not a normal part of the aging process. Males with erectile dysfunction should seek evaluation by a trained medical professional as there are innumerable options for helping men achieve satisfactory and functional erections regardless of the primary cause.
Furthermore, as erectile dysfunction can be a sign of general arterial health, it may be the first indication in some men that they are at risk for heart and vascular diseases and they must be evaluated by a physician.
About Dr. Daniel C. Edwards, DO: Dr. Edwards is a urologist and practices in Southeastern Pennsylvania with a special interest in cancerous conditions that affect the kidneys, bladder, prostate, and genitalia.