Erectile dysfunction prevention: tips for looking after your mind, body and erections

Written with
Dr Matthew Chan

Okay, we admit the science behind erections isn’t very sexy.

But we want you to know that the brain, body and penis are all connected. Like an orchestra, they need to play together for a healthy erection to shine through.

And when something’s off – even just one part – it can have a big impact on the end result.

That’s why keeping your whole self healthy is so important for good sex, and why, when it comes to ED prevention, we’ll be talking about the whole package.

It all starts with a healthy lifestyle

Erections are the result of a chain reaction that involves so many different components. Brain signals, nerves, hormones, blood vessels, arteries and muscles all play a part in getting it up.

That’s why the best way to keep your erections strong is to focus on your complete wellbeing.

On that note, being as fit and healthy as possible is definitely the best way to either help improve psychological or physical ED, or help cut the risk of developing it in the first place.

Does that mean building a healthy lifestyle is easy?

No, no, it does not.

So, if your inner Usain Bolt doesn’t always come when he’s called, focus on setting smaller targets that will push you towards bigger goals.

We’ll take you through a few ways to keep your body and mind in top condition, to help prevent you developing erectile dysfunction:

  • stay active with physical exercise
  • eat a balanced diet
  • keep an eye on your BMI
  • cut down on the cigarettes
  • drink less alcohol
  • steer clear of steroids
  • keep your pelvic floor strong
  • be kind to your mind

The path to dependable erections might be a longer and more winding journey than a trip to the pharmacy, but just think of all the other benefits you’ll unlock on the way.

Exercise for ED: let’s get physical

For once, we’re not talking about sex postions.

This is about exercise.  

Some of us love it, some of us get on with it, and some of us…

Well, we hate it.  

But here’s the thing: erections need good blood flow. You want your body to have healthy blood vessels that are used to pumping blood around your body, so that it can pump it right into your penis (at all the right moments, of course).

This is why keeping fit is so important.

Fitness has always been the hardest Pokemon to catch in our book, but actually, it can make it easier to build it up if you go slow and play the long game.

Working up to 40 minutes of aerobic exercise 4 times a week is proven to fight the effects of ED, according to a 2018 study.

This probably sounds like a lot, but even moderate exercise can help. We’ll do Couch to 5K if you will?

Eat your way to great sex: foreplay begins at the greengrocers

We know what you’re thinking; how many times have I heard this one?

But it’s our job to tell you that what you eat really does have an impact on how your erections are behaving.

We spoke to certified nutritional therapist Aron Snowsill. He told us that eating a diet rich in natural, healthy foods – like fruit, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seeds – is a great way to keep your blood vessels healthy and your circulation flowing.

You need all those passages open, so blood can flow into the penis and give you an erection.

That doesn’t mean you’re not allowed the odd treat. Hello birthday cake!

When we asked Aron where to start with diet, he told us:

“Small changes can make a big difference! If you’re feeling overwhelmed with changing your diet, start with something as simple as making your breakfast a little healthier.”

Aron Snowsill, Nutritional Therapist (mBANT, CNHC), BSc Psychology

ED and losing weight: let’s talk body…mass…index (BMI)

This post is 100% not about promoting the ‘perfect body’. What is ‘perfect’ anyway?

But essentially, too many fat cells in your arteries make it harder for blood to get to your penis. That’s why keeping your weight down can help keep your erections up.

The body mass index (BMI) is a measure that uses your height and weight to work out if your weight is healthy.

Health experts recommend that bringing your BMI into the ‘healthy’ range is a great way to take the pressure off your heart, and therefore help your erections.

Boom, better erections! Feeling motivated?

Less cigarettes, less penis problems

Sorry to nag, but the rumors are true: smoking and vaping can lead to erection issues.

In younger men, heavy smokers double their likelihood of severe erectile dysfunction, compared to those who smoke less or not at all, according to smoking and ED research.

But why is this?

The more you smoke, the more the chemicals damage the lining of your blood vessels. It harms your heart, brain, kidneys and tissues throughout your body.

This can be a disaster for getting it up, because you need good circulation and clear arteries to get blood into your penis and hold it there.

Scary stuff, but also a true story.

Quitting for life is hard. Quitting one day at a time? More doable.

Less alcohol leads to better erections (you knew this one was coming)

We enjoy a drink or two ourselves, so we’re not here to be party poopers and tell you to stop drinking alcohol completely.

BUT we can’t argue with the research – which does tell us that too much alcohol can have a negative impact our erections (and overall sex life).

This is because alcohol has a numbing effect which makes it more difficult to get hard in the first place, or cum if you do. Maybe that’s why drunk sex can sometimes feel like the best idea, only to be slightly disappointing in the end.

Over time, the toxins in alcohol can also do permanent damage to your heart and liver. This can impact the quality of the blood in your system and how it circulates. Again, you need strong, quality bloodflow to get an erection and keep it.  

So, if you can start off by aiming to drink one less day a week, or one less drink on your nights out, you’ll be one step closer to having a healthier body, mind and penis.

Avoid steroids if you want to avoid ED

If staying in peak physical condition is your thing, that’s awesome. But it’s important to keep your workout within safe limits.

Let’s talk about anabolic steroids (the drugs that are manufactured to copy the effects of testosterone). These can be a tempting way to build muscles super quickly.

However, leading urologists, like Doug Savage, are becoming increasingly worried about the long-term impact they have on users:

“I see lots of young men using anabolic steroids without much thought. For them, it’s normal and many can’t see why more people aren’t on them.

What they don’t know is, steroids cause huge surges of testosterone that can overwhelm and shut down the body’s natural testosterone receptors over time.

Infertility is often the long term result. And in the short term, users can feel very aggressive.

My overall advice is that steroids are serious drugs with long term risks and short term side effects that often outweigh any gains. People should think very carefully before using them.”

Doug Savage, Urologist and Specialist in Sexual Medicine and Testosterone Deficiency

Your penis needs your pelvic floor

The pelvic floor muscles have a super important role to play in men’s sexual function.

It’s their job to pump blood into the penis to form an erection, and then hold it there so you can keep it up. Or, as urologists say, they “engorge” the penis. Yikes!

That’s why you want to keep your pelvic floor game tight, but not too tight (if it’s too tight it can’t clench and relax to let blood enter in the first place).

“Like anything in the body, your pelvic floor muscles require the right balance. If they are too weak or too tight, you could have trouble getting erections.”

Georgie Adams, Sexual Health and Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist

There are exercises for both problems, but you have to know what you’re dealing with. You don’t want to strengthen a pelvic muscle that’s already too tight, or relax one that’s loose.

And because that same muscle also pumps during ejaculation, the same exercises can also make cumming even more satisfying. This is because you’ll have more control over ejaculation so you can hold it off longer – resulting in a more fulfilling finale.

Boner bonus. You’re welcome.

Good mental health = great erections

1 in 4 of us will experience a mental health problem each year. That means a lot more men will be at risk of ED at some point in their lives.

This is because we need our mental health to be in good shape for desire to come naturally.

Likewise, if you’re anxious, your body will start sending all it’s blood and energy to your muscles (because it’s getting ready for fight or flight), and away from your penis where you want it. That’s why we also need to stay nice and calm for erections to come naturally.

You can read more about psychological ED here.

It can be terrifying and hard to know what to do if you’re going through a rough mental health patch, especially when it starts having a knock-on effect in the bedroom.

These simple do’s and don’ts offer some ways to get out of your head, so you can start feeling better.

Behind every one of them is the same key message: you’re not on your own and it’s totally okay to get help.  

Yes, you can:

  • Talk to someone you trust about your concerns  when it comes to sex.
  • Get the sleep your body needs. 36% of men put their ED down to fatigue.
  • Talk to your partner and be honest about any relationship issues and your experiences with ED.
  • Stay relaxed when your sex drive goes up and down. We promise it’s natural to do that sometimes – especially if you’re stressed or tired.
  • Work with your doctor to manage your mental health if you need to, along with any physical difficulties you might be facing.
  • Get the support you need to manage your ED. It could be from your partner, a friend, speaking to other guys with erection issues, your doctor, a therapist or Mojo. Just know you’re not alone.

No, you don’t have to:

  • Keep it all to yourself. 33% of men aged 18-60 said they have not told anyone about their erectile dysfunction.
  • Suffer in silence at work. 57% of ED sufferers who work late say they have problems most days. However, research shows most bosses (78%) agree vacation increases productivity, as does down time, so don’t be afraid to refuel.
  • Leap to breaking up with someone you care about because of erection issues. 27% of men say they would rather break up with their partner than talk to their doctor. Devastating.
  • Force yourself to try and have sex or take part in any activities you don’t want to.
  • Think for a second that you’re the only one who has ever felt like this.

(Source for table stats: Atomik Research and Forbes)

What else can help prevent future erection issues?

At Mojo, we believe knowledge is power, and quality sex education is too often overlooked.

Learning what makes you tick in the bedroom is a journey that lasts a lifetime – but that’s okay because it should be fun.

Our video courses offer a mix of ways to learn more about your erections and practical tools to enhance your sex life.

So, although no one can guarantee that erection issues are preventable, we can help you minimize the risks by maximising your wellbeing.

With Mojo, you can:

  • work on your pelvic floor with exercises from Georgie
  • hear from top psychosexual experts  
  • listen to one of our masturbation tutorials
  • join our anonymous Community

Sound like something you’d be interested in?

Mojo aims to provide useful wellbeing resources to its users; however, you should not solely rely on opinions or advice available on the Website or given by the Community. Always seek advice from a qualified medical doctor or other healthcare professional before acting.

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