8 Ways to Cope with Erectile Dysfunction Diagnosis


Jennifer Larson

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You’ve probably known for some time that things weren’t quite right. Many men experience isolated episodes when they have trouble getting or sustaining an erection. But when it becomes a recurring problem, that’s when it’s time to consult a doctor. When your doctor confirms that you do have erectile dysfunction, you may wonder how to cope with the condition.

1. Rule out underlying health conditions that may be contributing.

Make sure there’s nothing else going on that may be causing your ED. A number of different health conditions can cause or contribute to erectile dysfunction, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and high blood pressure. The American Urological Association recommends getting a complete evaluation to rule out any of those other conditions or to set you on a path toward the appropriate treatment. Good news! ED often resolves once an underlying medical condition is addressed.

2. Get moving.

Lace up your running or walking shoes and get moving. Many doctors suggest losing weight as a first-line therapy against ED. Getting more physical activity into your life, when coupled with a healthy diet, will help you shed a few pounds. Aim for at least 200 minutes of moderately intense activity per week.

3. Watch what you eat.

A healthy diet is a key component of weight loss. As a general rule for adults, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends eating a diet featuring fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, and lean protein. You’re aiming to balance the calories you eat with the calories you burn—and perhaps burn a few extra. Watch your portion sizes, and swap sugary beverages for water or unsweetened tea. 

4. Keep the lines of communication with your partner open.

Your partner might not completely understand why ED happens and might even feel some responsibility. Reassure your partner that it’s no one’s fault. Medical or physical problems are usually behind ED, although stress and anxiety can also play a role. Talk about what you’re experiencing, how you feel about it—and ask how your partner is feeling, too.

5. Stop smoking.

Throw away those cigarettes! Men who smoke are nearly doubling their risk of developing ED. The nicotine in cigarettes, and chewing tobacco, can cause your blood vessels to narrow, which inhibits the blood flow crucial for achieving and sustaining an erection. By quitting, you could begin to reverse the problem.

6. Try medication.

Talk to your doctor about taking one of the oral medications on the market. Prescription drugs including sildenafil (Viagra), tadalafil (Cialis), vardenafil (Levitra, Staxyn), or avanafil (Stendra), are helpful for many men. These drugs work to relax the muscles that allow blood flow into the penis, causing an erection.

7. Take a multi-vitamin.

Are you getting enough vitamin B12 in your diet? What about vitamin D? There’s evidence that suggests a relationship between deficiencies in these two vitamins and ED. A daily multivitamin may help improve your ED, as well as your overall health.

8. Get counseling.

Even if you’ve tried all the relevant strategies, you may still be feeling upset or anxious about having ED. Seek out a trained counselor to talk to about your feelings. Couples therapy is also helpful for some men and their partners. Ask your doctor for referrals for support groups, too, if you think you could benefit from that experience.

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Medical Reviewers: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Review Date: Oct 13, 2017

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