Can erectile dysfunction be reversed?
Most males experience at least one episode of being unable to achieve an erection when desired. In extreme cases, they may be unable ever to have or sustain an erection. Erectile dysfunction (ED) is very common, affecting an estimated 30 million men in America.
Most cases of ED occur in men who were previously able to sustain an erection. The condition is usually reversible, but the chances of completely curing ED depend on the underlying cause.
Read on to learn about natural and medicinal ways to reverse ED.
Can ED be reversed?
The right treatment can reduce or eliminate ED symptoms.
In many cases, yes, erectile dysfunction can be reversed. A study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found a remission rate of 29 percent after 5 years.
It is important to note that even when ED cannot be cured, the right treatment can reduce or eliminate symptoms.
Doctors have identified two types of ED:
- Primary ED occurs when a man has never been able to have or sustain an erection. This is rare.
- Secondary ED occurs in people who once had regular erectile function. This is the most common type.
Secondary ED can be reversed and is often temporary. Primary ED may require more intensive and medical-based treatments.
ED is usually treatable with medication or surgery. However, a person may be able to treat the underlying cause and reverse symptoms with no medication.
The best treatment may depend on the person. Some find that traditional treatments, such as surgery or medication, do not work. These men may have success using a penis pump, which draws blood into the penis and induces an erection.
Methods for reversing ED fall into three categories:
These help with achieving or maintaining erections but do not address the underlying cause of ED. For example, sildenafil (Viagra) increases blood flow to the penis, which can provide short-term relief from ED. It may help people with conditions such as diabetes and atherosclerosis to get erections.
Addressing the underlying cause
Primary treatments address the issue that is causing ED. When clogged arteries are responsible, taking medication or exercising more frequently can improve cardiovascular health. This may eliminate ED or reduce the frequency of episodes.
Psychological treatments may help to reduce anxiety and increase self-confidence.
The cause of ED may be psychological, and the condition itself may lead to anxiety. Psychological treatments can reduce anxiety, increase self-confidence, and improve relationships with sexual partners.
Also, these changes may increase the odds that other treatments are effective.
Some men find that intense anxiety about sex prevents certain treatments from working. Addressing this anxiety can improve overall results.
Ways to reverse ED
See a doctor to check for any underlying health issues. ED can be the first sign of diabetes-related nerve damage, cardiovascular disease, or a neurological problem.
While the cause of ED may be physical, the condition can still have psychological effects. It may lead to self-consciousness or anxiety, which can make it more difficult to get an erection. A treatment plan may, therefore, include both physical and psychological methods.
A wide range of treatments can reverse ED. These include:
1. Lifestyle changes
Adjusting the lifestyle can improve many issues that cause ED, such as diabetes and clogged arteries. Men with underlying health issues should discuss options with their doctors.
Lifestyle changes that can help include:
- using relaxation exercises to manage ED-related stress and control blood pressure
- exercising to improve blood flow
- losing weight, when necessary, to lower blood pressure and improve cholesterol and testosterone levels
- changing the diet, which may especially benefit people with diabetes or cardiovascular disease
2. Pelvic floor exercises
The pelvic floor muscles help men to urinate and ejaculate. Strengthening these muscles may also improve erectile function. A comprehensive 2010 review found that pelvic floor exercises may help men with diabetes to get and maintain erections.
Discuss pelvic floor physical therapy with a doctor to learn which exercises are most effective.
3. Counseling or couples' therapy
ED can negatively impact self-esteem. It may be difficult to talk about, but the issue is common. It is important to acknowledge and discuss ED, particularly when it causes depression or anxiety.
Individual counseling can aid in uncovering the cause of the problem. A psychologist or psychiatrist can help an individual to manage their anxiety and resolve issues, which can eliminate ED and prevent it from returning.
Couples' therapy can help sexual partners to talk through their feelings and find healthful, constructive ways to communicate about ED.
4. Herbal and alternative remedies
Acupuncture may help to reverse ED.
Some men find that alternative and complementary therapies, such as acupuncture, help with ED. Preliminary research suggests that some herbal supplements may also help.
A 2018 review found that ginseng preparations significantly improved symptoms of ED in the population studied. Preparations of maritime pine extract, Pinus pinaster, and maca, Lepidium meyenii, also showed promising results, but more research is needed.
Methods of alternative medicine are safest when used under the guidance of a doctor and in conjunction with other treatments.
A wide variety of medications can help with ED. The best-known are drugs, such as tadalafil (Cialis) and Viagra, which increase blood flow to the penis and help to achieve an erection.
These can be effective when that cause of ED is physical, and they also work well when the cause is unknown or related to anxiety.
If an underlying condition, such as diabetes, is causing ED, treating it will often reverse ED or prevent it from worsening.
6. Medication changes
Some medications can make ED worse. Blood pressure medication, for example, may lower blood flow to the penis, making it harder to get an erection.
Anyone who suspects that ED is associated with a medication should tell a doctor. Alternative drugs are often available.
7. Mechanical devices
Penis pumps can draw blood into the penis and induce an erection in most men, including those with severe nerve damage. When there is severe nerve or blood vessel damage, using a ring can help to keep blood in the penis.
Even when serious physical health issues are present, a mechanical device can usually help with getting an erection.
If other strategies are ineffective, or when there is an anatomical cause of ED, a doctor may recommend surgery. The procedure involves implanting a device that enables immediate erections. Surgery is effective in most cases, and the rate of complications is less than 5 percent.
Some people feel frustration about ED. It is important to remember that the condition is treatable.
ED is very common and can usually be reversed by using natural remedies or medications to treat the underlying cause.
Early intervention can often detect a serious medical condition, and determining the cause of ED early may increase the likelihood of reversing it. Speak with a doctor about the best course of treatment.