Prevent Erectile Dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction (ED) drug manufacturers spent $313.4 million on measured media last year, according to TNS Media Intelligence. Watch any television channel, read any magazine, drive on any major highway and you'll see an onslaught on advertisements for ED treatments.

In fact, having a litany of treatments available for any condition is a good thing. But let's be honest, when was the last time you heard how you could prevent the condition before you need a prescription to treat it?

Though erectile dysfunction is common among older men, it's not a normal part of aging, like thinning hair and wrinkles. Here, the preventative steps you can take to avoid ED and to be comfortable changing the channel the next time an ad infiltrates your television.

  1. Have more sex. It may sound too good to be true, but it's not. According to a July 2008 issue of The American Journal of Medicine, men who said they had sexual intercourse less than once a week had twice the risk of developing erectile dysfunction, compared with men reporting having sexual intercourse once a week. Sex forces blood into the penis, which strengthens the blood vessels that are affected by ED. Our advice: Don't hesitate next time the mood strikes.
  2. Quit smoking. Not only can cigarette smoke clog your arteries obstructing blood flow out of the heart, but nicotine actually makes your blood vessel contract. This will impact blood flow into the penis.
  3. Watch your diet. Simply put: A diet that's "bad for you" is bad for your erection. Diets that are high in fat and cholesterol impede the blood flow in and out of the heart that is necessary to maintain a healthy erection. Cut out fried and processed foods and add more fruits, vegetables, and lean meats to your diet. Your heart and your partner will thank you for it.
  4. Exercise regularly. Studies have found that regular exercise, especially running or swimming, can help prevent ED. Aim for at least three times a week for at least 30 minutes per session. WARNING: Try to avoid excessive bike or horseback riding. The excessive pressure on the perineum-the area between the anus and scrotum-can actually cause ED.
  5. Moderate alcohol intake. While the occasional glass of red wine may be good for your heart, drinking alcohol in excess sets yourself up for serious sexual issues. Alcoholism can lead to nerve damage, which decreases sensitivity and can lead to ED. So, if you drink, do so in moderation.
  6. Monitor your testosterone. As you age, your testosterone levels tend to dip a bit. That said, if you're experiencing decreased energy, decreased sex drive, moodiness, night sweats, and muscle weakness, you may be experiencing late-onset hypogonadism, a more serious condition. Contact your health professional if you suspect your symptoms may be in line with this disorder.