How to Prevent Erectile Dysfunction

What you can do to avoid ED

Last reviewed: 18 Dec 2018

Man interested in how to prevent erectile dysfunction walking down a beach with his partner
Contents of this article

Erectile dysfunction (ED), is very common. It affects a lot of men over 40, but it’s quite common for younger men too.

There are several different ways you can avoid and treat ED, including lifestyle changes, medication, and use of devices.

What can I do to avoid erectile dysfunction?

There are a few easy ways to avoid erectile dysfunction (ED), one of which is helping yourself get aroused, and stay aroused. When you’re involved in a sexual situation, your senses and comfort play important roles in getting and keeping an erection.

Some ways to help improve arousal are:

  • Foreplay with your partner(s)
  • Lowering stress levels by not thinking about work or other issues. Try and focus on the present
  • Trying new things with your partner(s) and keeping communication open between you

If you drink a lot or take recreational drugs, this can also be a reason that you might experience erectile dysfunction. These effects can continue even when the effects of the substance feel like they’ve worn off, so make sure you take this into consideration if you’re experiencing ED. Speak with your GP or online doctor if you’re finding drinking or illegal drug use difficult to manage.

Another approach to avoiding ED is some simple pelvic floor exercises, also known as Kegel exercises. These can help improve blood flow to the penis and strengthen the muscles around your groin. You can do these almost anywhere – clench your pelvic muscles and hold for 5 seconds, and then release. Repeat these exercises a few times with a rest in between and change positions between sitting and standing now and again. You should repeat these exercises 2 to 3 times a day to get the most benefit out of them.

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How do I stop my physical health affecting my erections?

Erectile dysfunction (ED) can be caused by a few different physical causes. The most common are diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. If you find that you can’t get or keep an erection, it may help to speak with your doctor about getting tested for medical causes, particularly if you drink a lot of alcohol or don’t have the healthiest diet.

If you take medication regularly, it could be that ED is one of its side effects – so it is worth checking your medications carefully to see if this is listed. Some common medications that have been known to cause ED are:

  • High blood pressure medications and diuretics
  • Antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs
  • Antihistamines
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as Naproxen
  • Chemotherapy drugs
  • Muscle relaxants

If you’re experiencing ED and think your medication might be the cause, it’s important that you don’t stop taking your medications, but consult your doctor on your symptoms because they may be able to prescribe you an alternative medication.

Being physically healthy is one of the best ways to avoid ED. It’s a good idea to:

  • lose weight if you are overweight
  • stop smoking if you smoke
  • exercise daily
  • eat healthily
  • try to find ways to reduce anxiety and stress

Staying active and having a healthy lifestyle will help improve your physical and psychological well-being, as well as ED symptoms.

Some people believe that low testosterone levels could cause ED. If you’re thinking about getting testosterone replacement therapy (TRT), it’s important to know that low testosterone is rare, and doesn’t always affect sex drive or the ability to get an erection. Treatment should only be started by a specialist after you have proper testing and counselling about treatment.

A lot of men consider taking TRT to improve the symptoms of ED. But, there are a lot of other possible causes, and it’s more likely that ED is linked to other physical, lifestyle or psychological causes.

How do I stop my mental state affecting my erections?

If you’re feeling anxious about sex or your sexual performance, it can have an effect on your mental well being. This anxiety can itself be a cause of erectile dysfunction (ED). If this happens for you, you may find that a counsellor can offer some help. This could be one way to help your mental state affecting your erections.

It’s important to look after your psychological and emotional health. Being honest and open about what you are going through is a good first step, particularly if you’re experiencing symptoms of depression or anxiety. Speaking with your GP is a good idea because they can help you find treatment options and may refer you to a mental health counsellor.

Difficulty maintaining an erection happens from time to time and often has no underlying causes. It’s very common and doesn’t always mean that anything is wrong. Sometimes all it takes is trying new things with your partner(s) and focusing on ways to help sex work for you. Focusing on past experiences of losing erections can increase feelings of anxiety.

If you’ve been diagnosed with depression and are taking antidepressants, it’s important to be aware that they may cause low sex drive and/or ED as side effects. Speak with your GP if you think you’re experiencing this side effect, as they may be able to find an alternative medication or change your dosage. But, don’t stop taking your medication without speaking with your doctor first.

How do I avoid erectile dysfunction with a specific partner?

While you’re working out the causes of your erectile dysfunction (ED), it’s important that you consider your relationship(s) with your sexual partner(s).

Experiencing ED with a specific partner doesn’t mean you’re not attracted to them (although this is a possibility). Try not to feel that erections are necessary for engaging sexually with someone. This could help relieve any pressure you’re feeling, and could actually help you to get and keep erections more easily.

It’s important that you communicate and be open about how you feel. A lot of partners find that communicating about sex and emotional matters can be difficult, but not doing this may increase anxiety and disappointment.

Try not to avoid sex to avoid ED. Doing this can lead to even more performance anxiety. Try to resist the urge to avoid talking about it and instead explore new ways of having sexual contact rather than stopping completely. Keep communicating and be open with your partner and keep trying.

Can you get treatment for preventing erectile dysfunction?

Cialis Daily is similar to preventative treatment. If you often find you can’t get or keep erections and want to have sex regularly, then you could try Cialis Daily. You take it every day, so it should help you to get and keep erections at any time.

There are also some other medications that often work well. They’re not strictly ‘preventative’, but if you regularly experience ED, there are a number of prescription treatments available:

These medications work in pretty much the same way. They all increase blood flow to the penis, but they only work if you’re sexually aroused. These treatments are only right for you if you experience erectile dysfunction often and a doctor agrees they’re safe for you. A good option to choose could be ‘on demand’ Cialis (tadalafil), as it takes around 30 minutes to take effect and then can last up to 36 hours.

You might have a condition that can cause erectile dysfunction as a symptom, like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, depression and/or anxiety. Making sure you’re managing these conditions well may help you to prevent ED. Your GP will be able to help with this, and they may decide to adjust your treatment if necessary.

Should I get a device like a penis pump, just in case?

If you’re worried about experiencing erectile dysfunction, you could consider buying a device to help. You don’t need to be assessed by a doctor in order to buy either a penis pump or penis ring. Penis pumps have been shown to work as a treatment for erectile dysfunction, but there is only a little evidence that penis rings work.

Even if you’ve been diagnosed with erectile dysfunction (ED) a penis pump might be the right treatment option for you. You could try penis pumps or penis rings if you’re not keen on taking medications or if medications are not right for you because of your other medications or health conditions.


Dr Lisa Carter works part-time for Zava and part-time as a GP in Bristol. Her undergraduate training was undertaken in Cardiff and postgraduate training throughout London. Her area of interest is sexual and reproductive health.

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Last reviewed: 18 Dec 2018

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