Best Treatment Options

The best treatment for erectile dysfunction (ED) depends on the underlying cause and the severity of the condition. Here are some of the most effective treatment options for ED:

  1. Lifestyle changes: Making lifestyle changes such as eating a healthy diet, quitting smoking, and reducing alcohol consumption can improve ED symptoms.
  2. Talk therapy. A number of psychological factors can cause ED, including stress, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression. If you’re experiencing psychological ED, you may benefit from talk therapy. Over several sessions, you and your therapist will discuss:
  3. Oral medications: Medications such as sildenafil (Viagra), tadalafil (Cialis), and vardenafil (Levitra) are often prescribed to treat ED. These medications work by increasing blood flow to the penis, which helps achieve and maintain an erection.
  4. Vacuum devices: Vacuum devices are a non-invasive treatment for ED that involves placing a pump over the penis to create a vacuum, which draws blood into the penis and causes an erection.
  5. Penile injections: Injecting a medication directly into the penis can help improve blood flow and achieve an erection.
  6. Penile implants: For men with severe ED who do not respond to other treatments, a penile implant may be an option. This involves surgically placing an implant into the penis to create an erection.

Alternative ways to manage erectile dysfunction

Kegel exercises. Kegel exercises are simple movements you can do to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. Here’s how:

  1. Identify your pelvic floor muscles. To do this, stop peeing midstream. The muscles you use to do this are your pelvic floor muscles.
  2. Now that you know where these muscles are, contract them for 3 seconds. Then release them.
  3. Repeat this exercise 10 to 20 times in a row, three times per day.

A small 2005 study compared two groups of men with ED. The first group of men performed regular pelvic floor muscle exercises with a physiotherapist. They also received biofeedback and advice on lifestyle changes. The second group only received advice on lifestyle changes. Men in the first group saw their penile function improve significantly after 3 months of regular pelvic floor muscle exercises. Men in the second group saw little improvement after 3 months.

For the next 3 months, all participants were given at-home exercises to perform. After 6 months in total, 40% of all participants, including some men who had belonged to the second group, had regained normal erectile function. A 2019 literature review also concluded that pelvic floor exercises were effective at treating both ED and premature ejaculation. However, the researchers didn’t identify an ideal exercise plan in terms of conditions such as frequency and intensity. You may find that it’s easier initially to do Kegels while lying down. Eventually, you can start trying them when you’re sitting or standing.

Aerobic exercise. Moderate to vigorous exercise is not only good for your overall health. It also can increase blood flow, possibly helping with ED. Examples include running and swimming. Before you start a new exercise plan, always discuss it with your doctor. This is particularly important for people with heart disease or another underlying condition that could be aggravated by vigorous activity.

Yoga. Yoga can help to relax your mind and body. Since stress or anxiety can cause or contribute to ED, practicing yoga may be an effective way to ease ED symptoms. In fact, an older 2010 study of 65 men between 24 and 60 years old found that sexual function increased significantly after a 12-week program of yoga sessions. 

Erectile dysfunction foods. ED is often related to problems with blood flow. Maintaining your blood vessel health may be beneficial in both preventing and treating ED. You can achieve this by making certain lifestyle choices, such as eating a healthy diet. A small 2021 study indicates that a plant-based diet can help treat ED.

Acupuncture. Acupuncture is a type of traditional Chinese medicine in which needles are inserted into the skin at specific locations or acupoints. Acupuncture is believed to work through nerve stimulation, which then affects the release of neurotransmitters. It’s unclear how acupuncture works to treat ED. Studies on its effectiveness are limited, and those that do exist are often inconclusive.

Findings from a 2019 research review suggest that acupuncture may help treat psychological ED, but more studies are needed to confirm its effectiveness. When choosing an acupuncturist, look for a certified practitioner who uses disposable needles and follows FDA guidelines for needle disposal and sterilization. 

Erectile dysfunction natural treatments

For some people, natural remedies may help treat ED.

Herbs and supplements. Certain herbs and supplements have been studied to treat ED, with varying degrees of success, including:

  • shatavari
  • dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA)
  • ginseng, such as Korean red ginseng
  • L-arginine
  • L-carnitine
  • yohimbe
  • Horny goat weed and zinc may help as well.

Note: Don’t buy herbs and supplements for ED treatment unless you speak with your doctor first. Many aren’t regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which means they might contain additional ingredients not listed on their labels.

It’s important to talk to a healthcare provider about the best treatment options for your specific situation. They can help determine the underlying cause of your ED and recommend the most effective treatment to improve your sexual function and overall health.