We've talked at great length about erectile dysfunction on our blog, including these articles:
- Prostate Cancer Treatment Side Effects: Understanding Erectile Dysfunction
- Diabetes and Erectile Dysfunction (ED)
Here's the thing everyone needs to keep in mind about erectile dysfunction: it's much more common than you might think and it's not necessarily the result of treatment for diseases, such as prostate cancer. Below, we address this in more detail.
As with all content on Greater Boston Urology's blog, the following information is educational in nature, not medical advice. Always talk to your physician about your specific health care questions and conditions.
[Editor's note: This article was reviewed and updated on January 17, 2022.]
Erectile dysfunction is common.
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, "Researchers estimate that ED affects as many as 30 million men in the United States. While the likelihood of ED increases with age, the aging process does not cause ED. For example, ED occurs in…
- about 12 percent of men younger than 60
- 22 percent of men age 60 to 69
- 30 percent of men age 70 or older
Erectile dysfunction can have many causes.
- Lifestyle (more on this in a moment)
- Other health conditions (e.g. diabetes, high blood pressure)
- A side effect of medical treatments/surgeries (e.g. prostate cancer)
- Emotional issues (e.g. depression, stress, low self-esteem)
Erectile dysfunction can be treated.
The good news is that many treatment options are available. Unfortunately, because it's such a sensitive topic, many men won't talk about it—with anyone. Doctors, particularly urologists, understand how difficult it can be to talk about ED. But they want you to. Start the conversation and learn about your options.
Here's one treatment option that you might not be as familiar with:
Erectile dysfunction and lifestyle changes:
While lifestyle changes won't cure ED for all patients, positive lifestyle changes will improve a person's overall health, which can only help whatever treatment you settle on. And, for some men, lifestyle might be enough:
- Watch what you eat and drink. (We're looking at you, alcohol.) A nutritious diet has many health benefits, and one of them could be better erections. Over time, excessive alcohol use has been known to contribute to ED. Moderation is key. By the way, if you need nutrition counseling, consider making an appointment with our registered dietitian.
- Watch your weight. Yes, the straightforward advice you get at your yearly physical holds true here.
- Get regular exercise. Regular exercise will help you lose/maintain your weight while improving blood flow throughout your body (and healthy blood flow is essential to healthy erections).
- Stop smoking. Smoking causes many health issues, as we all know. One of the problems with smoking is that it damages blood vessels. Damaged blood vessels have a harder time delivering blood. Yes, including to your penis.
- Monitor your emotional state. Are you getting enough sleep? Are you feeling depressed? Are you dealing with self-esteem issues? The mind-body connection is real, and your emotional state can affect your ability to achieve and maintain an erection. And remember: if you can't manage these things on your own, ask for help.
Are you dealing with erectile dysfunction? Let us help.
At Greater Boston Urology, we have many convenient locations, including our hub in Dedham, Mass. Don't suffer alone. Schedule an appointment with one of our urologists today.