How Can I Improve My Erectile Dysfunction?

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If you’re suffering from erectile dysfunction, you’re not alone. In the U.S. alone, more than 30 million men have erectile dysfunction (ED).  


Who Does Erectile Dysfunction (ED) Affect?

ED can affect people of all ages but tends to affect men as they get older. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, ED affects 12 percent of men under 60, 22 percent of men in their 60s, and 30 percent of men 70 and older.


For most men, erectile dysfunction is their biggest sexual concern–and this is among males of all age groups. 


Men in their 20s-30s can have performance anxiety, which can lead to ED. For men in their 40s-50s, diet and the onset of diabetes bring diabetic medications that can cause ED as a side effect. And for men over 60, age can slow blood flow capacity, which can make full erections difficult. 

Possible Causes of ED

According to Harvard Health, erectile dysfunction that comes on gradually often points to causes that involve blood flow or nerves. On the other hand, a sudden loss of sexual desire or the ability to have erections usually suggests that a medication or psychological difficulty, such as depression or stress, may be to blame.


Medication, stress, and the overwhelming pressures of life can create havoc on sex drives and body responses and are direct causes of erectile dysfunction because they interfere with hormone levels. The Mayo Clinic reports various risk factors can contribute to erectile dysfunction, such as medical conditions, particularly diabetes or heart conditions. 


Smoking, which restricts blood flow to veins and arteries, has also been found to cause chronic health conditions that lead to erectile dysfunction.


Keep in mind, physical and medical conditions or medication are not the only sources of ED. Anxiety, depression, and relationship issues can all impact erections and the ability to achieve an erection. 

How to Improve ED

Erectile dysfunction can be a sign of something more serious, which is why it’s always important to speak with your doctor about possible treatment options. As mentioned above, many times ED can be a direct result of medications a person is taking, so it’s good to check on this first. 


Research has found natural solutions and products that may be helpful in combating ED. All suggestions should be discussed with your own physician. 


Natural Options

According to Harvard Medical School, lifestyle changes such as weight loss, eating a healthy diet, limiting alcohol, and smoking cessation can help boost sexual function without medication. And the Mayo Clinic released a study that Red Panax Ginseng and L-arginine improved sexual function in men with ED. 


There are additional natural items that may be helpful in your fight against erectile dysfunction, whether it’s intermittent or ever-present. 


For instance, watermelon may be a natural Viagra, according to research. That's because the popular fruit is rich in an amino acid called citrulline, which relaxes and dilates blood vessels much like Viagra and other drugs meant to treat erectile dysfunction.


In addition to watermelon, there are other specific foods that help boost penis blood flow and testosterone levels, increase sperm count, and have been found to assist with male sexual activities. 


Penis-Healthy Foods


  • Spinach: Research found spinach boosts blood flow and testosterone levels, and has been linked to improved male sexual function. Lack of folic acid, which spinach is an excellent source of, has been found to play a role in ED.
  • Coffee: Studies found that drinking two to three cups of coffee a day may prevent ED.
  • Oatmeal: Studies show oatmeal is beneficial for reaching orgasm.
  • Tomatoes: Research shows tomatoes significantly improve sperm concentration.
  • Carrots: University studies found carrots may improve sperm count and motility, which pertains to their swimming abilities. 


Sex Toy Options:

Research published by Translational Andrology and Urology (TAU) found non-pharmacological and non-surgical strategies to be beneficial for men with erectile dysfunction. Products they looked at were items commonly thought of as sex toys—such as, penis sleeves, extenders, and penile support devices, as well as vacuum erection devices (VED), better known as penis pumps. 


Their findings state that use of these items may assist with partner engagement when ED is a factor in a relationship. In TAU’s opinion, these devices were important for ED management when partners are involved. 



Penis Pumps

Not all penis pumps work the same way, so it’s always suggested to check with the pump manufacturer to see how they advise their particular penis pump to be used.


As for how a penis pump works, in theory, the vacuum suction it produces draws blood flow into the penis, helping create an erection. Many penis pumps come with an erection ring, which can be used to help keep the blood within the penis shaft. Once the erection ring (also called a cock ring, C-ring or penis ring) is removed, blood flows out of the penis allowing the erection to subside. 



Cock Rings

A cock ring helps restrict the blood flow from an erect penis. Once an erection is achieved, a stretchy cock ring is placed at the base of the penis shaft. 


Consider a stretchy round version for beginners. While silicone is a more hygienic, and higher priced, material, keep in mind that it’s not usually as stretchy as other materials, so it may be more difficult to put on for those who haven’t had experience with cock rings. Consider using a lubricant to allow a cock ring to be more easily placed upon the penis base. 


Cock rings may delay ejaculation. Cock rings are not meant to be worn for longer than 20 minutes at a time. 


If you’re using a condom, put it on first and the cock ring on second. 


Sunny Tip: If you’re not using a stretchy cock ring, you may want to try measuring yourself first in order to find the appropriate size. Wrap a thin strip of paper or string around the base of your flaccid penis and measure to where the paper or string meet to find your diameter measurement. Most cock rings are sold by diameter size, unless they are stretchy. There are also adjustable cock rings to consider. 



Cock Cages

A cock cage is the equivalent of multiple cock rings with its lengthy design. Cock cages can not only help restrict blood inside an erect penis, but they may also provide a greater level of rigidity and firmness that some people experiencing ED need. Some cock cages have open tips, which leaves the head of the penis free and the penis head is where most of the most sensitive nerve endings are located. That means it won’t lessen sensations like a full penis extension sleeve may. 


The same cautions and considerations apply as with cock rings. 



Penis Sleeves & Extensions

Penis sleeves and extensions can serve as great options when obtaining an erection is difficult—or not feasible. 


Penis sleeves and extensions can be worn over a flaccid, semi-erect, or erect penis to increase length and/or girth—or to allow for intercourse when an erection is otherwise impossible to achieve. Some of these sleeves can even add vibration to sexual activities. 



Use Caution

With all of these devices, start slowly and pay attention to your body, its responses, and what can work for you personally. Remember, every body is unique so one or more of these devices may be tried to obtain the desired results. 



Are you living with ED? Are you concerned about how to manage your erectile dysfunction? Please send me your questions and comments. I’m always here to help you.

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Dr. Sunny Rodgers is a clinician, author, and speaker who has worked in the wellness industry since 2000. She holds a Ph.D. in Human Sexuality, a Master of Arts in Clinical Sexology, and is an accredited Sexual Health Educator. She is the Founder of The Institute of Intimate Health, an Ambassador for the American Sexual Health Association, regular lecturer for the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine, Sexual Confidence Coach for the Marigold App, and a professional Sex Toy Concierge™. Rodgers hosted a popular weekly show on Playboy Radio, has been an expert guest on several TV and radio programs, and is a regular contributor to HuffPost, Men's Health, Cosmo, Bustle, and many more publications.