How To Fix Your Erectile Dysfunction

What You Can do to Overcome Your Erection Problems

To deal with your erection problems you can choose from:

  • Medication or devices
  • Exercise and lifestyle changes
  • Therapy or counselling
  • Surgery

Whether the problem is coming from your brain or your body, we can help you find the right medication or device that can work for you.

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Dr Clair Grainger

Medically reviewed by

Dr Clair Grainger

Last reviewed: 18 Oct 2019

Can You Fix Erectile Dysfunction Permanently?

For some people it is possible for their erectile dysfunction symptoms to end permanently, but this depends on what the causes are. Even if you can’t solve your erection problems permanently, you can usually still find a solution you can use regularly.

Long-term solutions to erectile dysfunction include:

Exercise or lifestyle changes – if you stick to regular exercises (unless you have been told by a doctor not to do so), or you follow through on healthier lifestyle choices, then you may find your erection problems don’t come back. On top of that, you might see some other general health benefits.

Counselling or sex therapy – mind-related causes of erectile dysfunction can affect anyone. They are more likely if you experience erectile dysfunction at a younger age. Talking to a counsellor or therapist can help some people overcome erectile dysfunction related to these problems, possibly for good. They can also help you if your erectile dysfunction is causing you stress or if you have relationship problems, as this can make matters worse.

Having your current medication checked – if you are taking medication already, it could be that your erection problems are a side effect. Have a doctor check whether this is the cause of your problems and if it is, you might be able to switch medications and then find that your erectile dysfunction goes away completely – or at least improves. Medications that can cause erection problems include:

  • blood pressure medication
  • antidepressants
  • steroids
  • antihistamines

Remember that even if you decide to go for another option like erectile dysfunction medication or devices like implants or penis pumps, these can be used long-term as well. Although it’s possible to take medication long-term, a doctor or pharmacist will need to check they are still right for you each time you need more.

Why Does My Erection Need Fixing?

There are three main types of erections problems that need fixing:

  • psychological (related to your brain)
  • physiological (related to your body)
  • mixed (related to brain and body)

How can you tell if you have psychological or physiological erection problems?

Psychological Physiological
You can get an erection while masturbating You can’t get an erection, even while masturbating
You get erections during the night (morning wood) You don’t get erections during the night
Your erection problems come and go Your erection problems are always there

Psychological erection problems – these come from your brain not being able to send the signal to the penis to start an erection or keep it going. This can be either because you aren’t aroused or because the signal is blocked, by anxiety for example. Solutions to psychological erectile dysfunction include:

  • counselling or therapy
  • exercise or lifestyle changes
  • medication

Physiological erection problems – these can include problems with your circulatory or nervous systems which are responsible for supplying blood and nerve signals to your penis, problems with hormone levels in your body, abnormalities of the penis itself or medications which can cause ED. Solutions to physiological erection problems include:

  • exercise or lifestyle changes
  • medication
  • vacuum pumps
  • treating any underlying medical problems
  • stopping or changing any medications that may be causing ED
  • surgery
Cause Type of Problem Affects Older or Younger Men More Explanation
Depression or anxiety Psychological Younger Mood disorders like these can affect sex drive, or your ability to get an erection even when aroused
Relationship problems Psychological Younger or older Stress and conflict in a relationship can reduce your sex drive with that partner
Nerve damage Physiological Older If the nerves that carry the erection signal from the brain don’t work, the signal can’t reach your penis
Heart disease Physiological Older If your heart isn’t working properly then it can reduce the blood supply to your penis
High blood pressure or cholesterol Physiological Older As above, when you have blood pressure or cholesterol problems it can restrict the blood supply to your penis
Diabetes Physiological Older Again, diabetes can limit the blood supply to your penis, even when under control

Can Medication Help Me Fix My Erectile Dysfunction?

The go-to tool for tackling erection problems is a type of medication called ‘PDE-5 inhibitors’. The PDE-5 inhibitors available in the UK are:

  • Viagra (active ingredient – sildenafil) - probably the best known and the oldest PDE-5 medication. It also comes in a cheap generic formed called by the active ingredient name, Sildenafil.
  • Cialis (active ingredient – tadalafil) - also well known, especially in the USA, this is the longest lasting PDE-5 inhibitor, up to 36 hours, and comes in a cheaper generic version called tadalafil.
  • Levitra (active ingredient – vardenafil) - similar to Viagra but has less chance to cause eye-related side effects.
  • Spedra (active ingredient – avanafil) - the newest medication on the market, it gets to work the fastest, as quick as 15 minutes in some cases. It also comes in a cheaper generic version called avanafil.

You can order any of these medications so long as you’ve had an assessment from a doctor first and they agree the medication is safe for you. This is because they are prescription-only. You can get an assessment by making an appointment to see your local GP or you start the assessment straight away if you use an online doctor service.

Viagra Connect is a new PDE5 inhibitor which you can buy in a pharmacy, or through our online doctor service, after a consultation with the pharmacist, or your online doctor, to ensure this medication is safe for you to take. Viagra Connect contains the active ingredient sildenafil and is only available in 50mg tablets.

These medications don’t work for everyone but they are easy to use and work for up to 84% of men who try them. They work by making it easier to get an erection by reducing the effect of (inhibiting) the chemical PDE-5. This chemical is used in the body to make sure there isn’t too much blood in the penis during an erection, and inhibiting it leads to improved blood flow to the penis.

As not everyone can take these medications safely you should talk to your doctor or pharmacist before trying them. You may not be able to try them if you:

  • have some existing health problems
  • are taking certain medications

PDE-5 inhibitor medications can also cause some side effects.

Your doctor or pharmacist should give you information on the most common or serious side effects before you try any of these medications.

Second line treatments include medications that are inserted directly into the penis. If first line treatment and lifestyle changes have not helped your symptoms or you cannot take PDE5 inhibitors, your doctor may refer you to a urologist to discuss the best treatment options for you.

What Are Some Natural Fixes for Erection Problems?

Natural fixes that may affect ED fall under 3 categories:

  • changes to your diet or lifestyle
  • exercises, training, and devices
  • herbal supplements

Changes to your diet or lifestyle

There are a number of changes you can make to the way you eat and live that can have a positive impact on your erection health. You may not realise these are even related to erectile dysfunction but many people find that adjusting these factors helps them get better erections. These changes include:

  • Eating a healthy and balanced diet - you are unlikely to get erectile dysfunction from being malnourished (not getting enough vitamins and minerals) but if you don’t eat healthily, you could end up with higher cholesterol, high blood pressure, or diabetes, and then you are more likely to get erection problems.
  • Stopping smoking - as above, smoking can have a negative impact on your blood flow in general, which can lead to erection problems.
  • Decreasing the amount of alcohol you drink - this can have a positive effect on erectile function, as well as overall health.
  • Losing weight - this won’t help everyone, but if you are overweight then it could be contributing to your erectile dysfunction.
  • Reducing stress levels - stress can cause blood pressure issues, but it can also interfere with the signal to get an erection that comes from your brain.
  • Cycling less - studies show that men who cycle more than 3 hours a week are more likely to have erection problems. This is thought to be because the action of using a bike affects the nerve supply to the area around your penis.

Exercise, training and devices

While lifestyle changes can be a good place to start, if you feel motivated to try some more hands-on approaches to fixing your erections problems there are some additional options. There are some exercises that you could try to train the muscles or blood supply to your penis. There are also a few devices that you can try out. These include:

  • Pelvic floor exercises – there is scientific evidence that shows that pelvic floor exercises can help some people with their erections. They are simple and easy to do, and they don’t require gym access or specialist equipment.
  • Exercising regularly – there is some evidence that exercising regularly may improve ED. If you have not been advised by a doctor that you should not exercise then the NHS recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week (like brisk walking or cycling)
  • Penis pumps – these are small plastic tubes that are attached to a pump that can either be battery or hand operated. They are used by inserting your penis into the pump and then using the pump action to draw blood up into your penis. It comes with a ring to hold the blood in your penis during your erection.
  • Penile implants – generally used if physical damage (sometimes occurring after prostate surgery) makes the anatomical parts needed for an erection not work. These are inserted by surgery and can provide a permanent treatment choice if others fail to work. The implants can be semi-rigid or inflatable. They can be pretty expensive and are not usually available on the NHS unless you meet strict criteria.

Herbal supplements

Because it can be a hassle to get hold of the medication you need, many people look for erectile dysfunction pills that you don’t need a prescription for. You may also be worried about the effect of prescription medications and you want a natural alternative because it seems safer.

The truth is medication or psychosexual counselling are the first treatments a doctor will suggest because they’ve been proven to work. If a doctor has approved a medication for you then it’s safe for you to try. If you would still like to see if herbal supplements work for you, then there is a list below of supplements thought to work for erectile dysfunction. Just before you invest your money in them, remember they aren’t proven to work, and you should always check with your doctor that these are safe for you to try:

  • arginine
  • citrulline
  • ginseng
  • yohimbine
  • horny goat weed
  • maca
  • zinc
  • vitamin E
  • flavonoid rich foods

What’s a Good Erectile Dysfunction ‘Plan-of-Action’?

Step 1. Make the decision to fix your erectile dysfunction - studies show that many people put up with erection problems when they don’t have to. The first step towards solving erectile dysfunction is deciding to take action.

Step 2. Doctor - when it comes to your body not working correctly, a doctor has the professional knowledge you need to decide how to try and fix it. They can give you an assessment to help you figure out which erection strategies are right for you. You can get an assessment from your local GP, or online from an online doctor service.

Step 3. Decide on your solution(s) - once you’ve had input from a doctor, you can make a choice about what erection strategies to try out. Also, although you should never combine medication unless a doctor agrees you should, you can try more than one erectile dysfunction solution at once, such as medication alongside lifestyle changes. Even if you decide to go straight to a pharmacist to buy medication, it still makes sense to see your doctor about erectile dysfunction.

Step 4. Start your solution(s) off and watch for results - once you’re happy with your choice and you’ve started, you should keep an eye on the situation. The amount of time until you see results will be different depending on what solution you’re using.

Step 5. If the problem isn’t fixed, don’t give up! - not everyone finds the right solution for them on the first try. Just because your first try doesn’t work doesn’t mean nothing will. Keep trying solutions until one sticks.


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