1 in 10 men and penis owners will suffer from erectile dysfunction, also known as male impotence, on a long term basis at some point in their lives. However, with erectile dysfunction having a very strong link to cardiovascular disease, and 64% of men being hospitalized for a heart attack, commonly used prescription medication like Viagra may not be a suitable option. Whether you just prefer not to medicate or have underlying health conditions that limit your options, safe alternatives to Viagra do exist and there are a considerable number of natural ways to treat erectile dysfunction and reclaim your sex life.
The Journal of Sexual Medicine published a study that found certain lifestyle changes may help reverse or treat erectile dysfunction. These proposed lifestyles changes all work towards three primary goals: increase testosterone, increase and promote healthy blood circulation and improve overall quality of life. These lifestyle factors all work to mitigate risk factors and contributors to ED.
Depending on the cause, you can even cure erectile dysfunction naturally and permanently. We’ve outlined 14 natural ways to treat erectile dysfunction without medication and increase your sexual performance.
- Eat a Healthy & Balanced Diet
- Limit Alcohol Intake
- Quit Smoking
- Get More Sleep
- Exercise & Kegels
- Stress Reduction
- Wearable Vibrators
- Cock Rings
- Penis Pumps
- Penis Sleeves
- Supplements & Herbs
- Mindfulness Practices
The proverb is true: you are what you eat. Your diet and nutrition have a considerable impact on your overall wellbeing and bodily functions, including ED. In a recent study, scientists found that a healthy diet lowers the risk of erectile dysfunction and recommends a diet that emphasizes eating fruits, vegetables, fish, nuts, legumes and avoids or minimizes red and processed meats.
Keeping a healthy and balanced diet also helps keep your waist circumference down and reduces the risk of heart disease and diabetes, two contributing factors to ED. The Massachusetts Male Ageing Study found that obesity or a greater body mass index lowers testosterone levels in the body. Having a healthy testosterone level is essential for sexual function; low levels can contribute to impotence.
In addition to a healthy diet, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that eating foods with flavonoids can act as a natural remedy for erectile dysfunction. Flavonoids improve cardiovascular health by increasing blood flow and making arteries more flexible. Foods containing flavonoids include:
- Dark Chocolate
- Nuts & Grains
- Citrus Fruits
Beyond this list, there are plenty of foods that naturally increase testosterone, act as aphrodisiacs, and treat erectile dysfunction.
Alcohol, the social lubricant, has been correlated with higher rates of erectile dysfunction in men. Alcohol affects your bodily functions in several ways:
- It decreases testosterone production, which is necessary for achieving an erection.
- It depresses the central nervous system, hence why many of us feel so relaxed while drinking, and may not be able to ‘get it up’.
The central nervous system produces an essential chemical, nitric oxide, which helps in maintaining an erection. Alcohol interferes with the chemical production of nitric oxide and may result in a flag at half-mast. In a study among 84 alcohol-dependent males, 25% suffered from ED. Limiting consumption of alcohol can decrease the risk of sexual dysfunction.
Smoking is one of the vices that do more harm than good. In a cross-sectional study, it was concluded that cigarette smoking is a significant contributing factor to erectile dysfunction. Cigarette smoking deteriorates cardiovascular health and nitric oxide production, all things that decrease and interrupt the blood flow throughout the body.
In ancient Greek mythology, Death (Thanatos) is the brother of Sleep (Hypnos), because sleep is essential to the healthy function of life.
Not getting enough sleep can also exacerbate stress and anxiety and is linked to high rates of depression. 90% of people with depression report trouble sleeping or poor sleep quality, which can also be a contributing factor to ED.
Poor sleep quality is a precursor for ED because it can lower testosterone levels and lead to high blood pressure or hypertension. Who knew the most natural cure to erectile dysfunction could just be more sleep! The golden rule is 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep for optimal health benefits, including a firm erection.
Movement is medicinal. Physical activity improves the quality of life in numerous ways and helps support healthy cardiovascular function and blood circulation, which are vital for sexual health.
The ISSM (International Society for Sexual Medicine) published a study outlining how physical activity and aerobic exercise can help treat erectile dysfunction. Their recommendations include moderate to vigorous aerobic exercise four times a week for 40 minutes per session.
The American Journal of Cardiology found that even brisk walking a few times a week can be sufficient to treat ED. Exercise also increases dopamine and endorphin releases, which are our feel-good hormones, and can help reduce stress.
Aerobic exercise isn’t the only form of exercise found to treat male impotence. There’s also kegels. Men have pelvic floors too, so why wouldn't they benefit from pelvic exercise? Kegel exercises are an excellent and underutilized pelvic exercise to help people suffering from erectile dysfunction. Kegels have been proven to support bladder, bowel, and sexual function by strengthening the pelvic floor and are a discreet exercise that you can do anywhere at any time without any equipment or props.
Stress manifests in different ways in our bodies and minds and can contribute to ED; though it’s harder to identify because everyone experiences stress uniquely. One study found that stress was a precursor to impotence.
Stress can also cause behaviors that directly correlate to erectile dysfunction, such as stress-eating or binging, a sedentary lifestyle, smoking cigarettes, sleep deprivation, and depression. Lowering or eliminating stress from your life can have a cascade effect on your physical, sexual, and mental wellbeing.
Like Kegels, vibrators aren’t just for women and vulva owners. Tenuto, the award-winning wearable vibrator for men, can help combat erectile dysfunction by acting like a traditional cock ring to restrict blood flow to maintain an erection whilst also using vibrational therapy to increase blood flow and get you hard. Vibrations have been proven to increase blood circulation, and Tenuto has 6 anatomically placed motors that send targeted vibrations from the penis to perineum to stimulate the entire region while also heightening sensations and arousal. Tenuto’s revolutionary design also means it adapts to the shape of the penis for a comfortable and snug fit - as one-size does not really fit all. Tenuto boasts 16 intensity levels and an app to individually program each motor so you can adjust the sensations depending on your preference. The benefits of this vibrator don’t just stop with the wearer. This male sex toy also comes with motors designed to stimulate a woman’s clitoris and labia, making this product the perfect partnered pick for a toe-curling sexual experience.
Cock rings use tension to apply pressure and restrict blood flow, trapping blood in the penis, resulting in a firmer erection. This also makes the penis more sensitive and enhances sensations during sex. Because of this, penis rings are popular sex toys for people who don’t suffer from erectile dysfunction and are a great compliment to any sexual experience, whether solo or partnered.
Some cock rings also come with built-in motors that vibrate to stimulate the perineum or a partner’s clitoris if used with a partner.
While simple devices, cock rings require some preparation and precautions to maximize benefits and reduce risk. Penis rings should be tight, but not TOO tight. If you feel any pain wearing a penis ring, it could be that you need a size up or a ring made of a more flexible material, like Tenuto, to accommodate for growth, need to apply lubrication, or have been wearing one too long.
Penis pumps or vacuum erectile devices (VEDS) are mechanical pumps that temporarily alleviate erectile dysfunction. The pump creates an air-tight vacuum seal around the penis via suction and promotes blood flow in the shaft. Pumps come with a constriction band or tension band, much like a cock ring, which you slide to the base of your shaft to keep erect.
Erections from penis pumps typically last around 30 minutes. As tension rings left on for too long can potentially damage penile tissue, make sure you check the manufacturer’s recommended amount of time. Penis pumps won’t enlarge your penis permanently or give you extra length, and any enhancement is marginal and temporary.
Penis sleeves also go by penis extenders, sheaths, and enhancers. Penis sleeves are hollowed, rubber, or silicone fitted sleeves that are worn over the penis. Their primary function is to enhance pleasure for the wearer and can allow you to engage in penetrative sex even if you aren’t fully erect. The tension of the sleeve, while minor, can promote blood flow in the same way that a penis ring or tension ring does.
Penis sleeves come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some cover the penis completely; some leave certain parts exposed, like the glands. Some even come with internal and external ribs for more intense sensations and even vibrations.
Supplements and herbal remedies were used by ancient cultures and tribes to treat all sorts of ailments before modern medicine. Some people swear by the effectiveness of specific vitamins or supplements as a natural remedy for erectile dysfunction. However, the efficacy of these natural remedies has not been well-studied and more research needs to be done to confirm their relationship with impotence.
One of the most studied, low Vitamin D levels have been linked with higher rates of erectile dysfunction and taking supplements can potentially help alleviate symptoms.
Mayo Clinic outlined a list of natural herbs and remedies for ED that show promising results.
- DHEA is an endogenous steroid hormone that has shown positive results in increasing testosterone and libido in men. It is also naturally occurring in our bodies, produced by the adrenal glands, gonads, and brain.
- L-arginine is an α-amino acid that is used to synthesize proteins. It is converted in the body into a chemical called nitric oxide. Nitric oxide (mentioned several times above) widens blood vessels for improved blood flow.
- Panax Ginseng, also known as Red Ginseng is a widely used herb in Asian cultures that is believed to promote nitric oxide output and improve cardiovascular health and is sometimes referred to as the ‘herbal Viagra’.
- Propionyl-L-carnitine is a naturally occurring amino acid that can be taken as a supplement to increase nitric oxide and blood flow to improve circulatory issues such as high blood pressure.
- Ginkgo is an herb thought to improve overall circulation and thus help with sexual dysfunction.
- Horny Goat Weed (Epimedium) is an herb used in traditional Chinese medicine to naturally treat low libido and sexual dysfunction.
- Yohimbine comes from the bark of the African tree and is used as a natural aphrodisiac to improve sexual function and low libido.
Acupuncture is an alternative therapy and traditional Chinese practice. It involves a trained professional sticking thin needles into your skin, targeting points in the body to release tension and alleviate pain. Preliminary studies have shown acupuncture to effectively combat male impotence as a side effect of taking antidepressants.
Some forms of male impotence result from a combination of psychological factors, such as performance anxiety, relationship problems, sexual trauma, religious beliefs, depression, low self-esteem, pornography addiction and more. One of the best ways to cure erectile dysfunction naturally and permanently in these instances is by talking to a therapist. Sometimes it’s good to just talk it out.
Therapy can have many emotional and psychological benefits. A therapist is trained with tools and techniques that you can apply in situations where ED might arise from psychological causes. A review of various studies found that psychological interventions, like cognitive behavioral therapy, were an effective treatment for erectile dysfunction.
Mindfulness is the buzzword of the year. Everyone from the media to celebrities are endorsing mindfulness practices to improve everyday life. The Journal of Sexual Medicine published the results from a pilot program that aimed at improving situational ED in men through mindfulness practices. The results showed promise! After 4 weeks of adopting various mindfulness practices to their daily lives, participants reported a reversal in male impotence. More research needs to be done to be conclusive, but it's a great start to what can happen when we become present in the moment and grounded.
Erectile dysfunction is nothing to be ashamed about and is a common condition that affects many men with most types of ED being reversible and treatable. Many treatment options exist beyond these 14 natural treatments for erectile dysfunction, from surgery and medication to sex toys and supplements. At the end of the day, it’s your body and your choice as to which avenue of treatment you’d like to pursue in how to treat erectile dysfunction. Keeping track of your sexual health inventory will help you decide the best course of action. When in doubt, it’s best to consult a trained professional. The main takeaway: it IS possible to have mind-blowing sex with erectile dysfunction!