Medical treatments for ED caused by an unhealthy lifestyle can be very helpful. But in this type of ED, your persistence and determination to make lifestyle changes is very important. Whether you address the issue with medical help or on your own, your resolution to achieve change is essential.
The most common lifestyle cause of ED is alcohol consumption. Treatment is straightforward: limit your intake or stop. You can test whether your alcohol intake is a cause of your ED by abstaining from alcohol for a month to see if your erections are satisfactory. If you stop drinking and have consistent erections, you have verified that alcohol is the cause. If you cannot moderate your drinking or quit altogether, it is likely that you need to seek professional help. Drug abuse is another major factor in ED, and the same treatment suggestions apply.
Sustained and chronic lack of sleep can be difficult to correct, especially if you have a demanding career, family responsibilities, or both. Sleep deprivation can be caused by a medical problem. If you suspect a disorder like sleep apnea, seek a medical evaluation. Worry or anxiety is a common cause of insomnia, and addressing an underlying psychological issue may help you change the sleep deprivation pattern.
Short-term sleep medications are not usually a good option. Medications (including over-the-counter drugs) can further disrupt your sleep and exacerbate the problem. Be careful but decisive. Chronic poor sleep can affect your sexual desire as well as erections. A “low battery” is not conducive to healthy sexual functioning, let alone your general health.
With our hectic contemporary lifestyle, fatigue may be the most important and least obvious cause of sexual difficulties. The drain of intense work demands, commuting, parenting, social activities, and the stresses of daily living can be profound. Many couples engage in sex at the end of the day, when fatigue is at its peak. A good strategy is to be sexual in the morning, after a nap, or in the early evening, when you have the energy for an involved, satisfying sexual encounter.
Smoking – and passive exposure to cigarette smoke – is now known to cause ED by damaging the penile vascular system (Cummins and Miller 2003). Quitting smoking is a healthy, long-term preventative move. See the Resources section at the end of this book for guidance. Your doctor, together with your partner, can help you decide on a change plan.
Poor Physical Condition and Significant Overweight
The strain on your body because of overweight or poor physical condition may impair erections, especially with aging. Your body has to work harder, and sexual function can be impaired some or all of the time. Overweight and a sedentary lifestyle with poor physical conditioning may limit the physiologic responses of arousal such as your respiration, heart capacity, and vascular efficiency. When severe, this can limit sexual response of men even in their twenties.
While the effort to overcome this cause of ED requires persistence, patience, and determination, it is something you can correct. It is best to work with the direction of your physician and a personal trainer to help you to be realistic in your change plan. It also helps enhance motivation if you work out with a “buddy” – another opportunity to work with your partner.