How You Can Fix Erectile Dysfunction
How to improve your erections
Last reviewed: 27 Feb 2019
There's a range of fixes for erectile dysfunction – medication is normally the first choice
There are different reasons why erections need fixing
There are options you can try quickly for faster improvements
And there are longer-term fixes available too
You can also try training and exercises to improve your erections
If you have erectile dysfunction (ED) it can make sense to want to fix it. Not everyone wants to use the same approach to managing ED and there are a few options you can choose from.
How you decide to treat your ED might depend on how quickly you want results, whether you'd like a long-term solution, whether you want to train yourself into better erections, and so on. You can even combine non-medical and medical fixes to boost your chances.
What can you do to fix erectile dysfunction?
The first choice for most people are medications called PDE-5 inhibitors. The PDE-5 inhibitors are:
- Viagra (also available as Viagra Connect or Sildenafil) – this is the most well-known ED medicine
- Cialis (also available as Tadalafil) – this medicine is long-lasting, with some men reporting that they still feel the effects up to a day and a half after taking it. It also comes in the form of tablets that you can take daily
- Levitra – a similar medicine to Viagra
- Spedra – this medicine works the quickest, with some men reporting that they feel the effects as fast as 15 minutes after taking it
Other medications are available if you’ve found that taking PDE-5 inhibitors didn’t suit you, such as Caverject (alprostadil).
Certain lifestyle changes can improve erections – some men find that they don’t need to do anything else to fix their ED. These changes include:
- Eating a healthy diet high in fibre and low in saturated fats
- Exercising 30 minutes a day, five times a week
- Stopping smoking
- Cutting down on alcohol, especially if you are about to have sex
You should also have a check-up by your doctor – your doctor can review the medical conditions that you have and the medications that you’re on to see whether any of these factors are causing or making your ED worse. ED can also be a symptom of some medical problems, so it is important to discuss this with your doctor.
Counselling is useful for some people – especially if their ED is caused by factors such as anxiety or another mental health condition.
Some devices can help you get and maintain an erection – they typically do this by manipulating blood flow around the genital area. For example:
- Vacuum devices which encourage blood flow to the penis
- Penis rings which stop blood from flowing out of the penis
- In extreme cases where many different treatments haven’t worked, a penile prosthesis can be used. This carries the same risks as any surgery (such as infections, soreness, or a reaction to the medications to put you to sleep), so it is not recommended as an early treatment option.
Combining fixes – you can’t combine medications, but you can combine different types of treatment to increase the chances of success. Also, making the lifestyle changes described above means that any other treatment you choose is more likely to work.
Why do erections stop working?
The causes are different for different people. Sometimes, more than one reason causes erectile dysfunction (ED).
Blood flow causes – good blood flow to the penis is essential for a successful erection. Conditions such as diabetes can worsen blood flow. You might have blood flow causes if:
- Your never get strong enough erections
- You do not get an erection when you masturbate
- You do not get erections in the night/early morning (morning wood)
Arousal causes – these can be caused by anxiety around sex or a separate mental health condition such as depression. This can be without any physical blood- or nerve-related causes. You might have arousal causes if:
- Your erection strength comes and goes
- You can get an erection when you masturbate
- You can get erections in the night/early morning (morning wood)
Physical deformities or nerve causes – these are rare. Specific conditions such as Peyronie’s disease can cause weaker erections. You might have these problems if:
- Your penis looks different
- Sensation to the penis has changed (it feels different)
Temporary causes – it’s also important to remember that day-to-day factors can make a difference. For example, if you are overtired, stressed, have drunk too much alcohol, or highly anxious you are more likely to have less reliable erections. These causes are normally one-off occurrences.
What is the quickest way to fix erectile dysfunction?
Options that can work quickly are:
- Avoiding drinking alcohol, especially if you are about to have sex. You may notice an immediate improvement in your erections if you normally drink heavily before sex
- Try and lower your stress or tiredness levels to maximise your chances of a successful erection
If you want a quick resolution, you can get assessed for PDE-5 inhibitor medication right away – be aware that it may take the body a few tries to get used to the medicine so you may not get results immediately:
- If you order from Zava's online consultation service, you can get medicine delivered to you next day by post or you can choose to collect from a local post office
- If you go to your GP, you can get medicine the same day if the pharmacist have it in stock or the next day if the pharmacy needs to get it delivered
You can get your current medication checked – if current medication is causing the problem you may be able to stop or switch treatment to quickly improve your situation.
You may not need treatment right away – if you suddenly found that you have a problem getting or maintaining an erection, it’s important not to panic. Sometimes, it can be a one-off occurrence. One option is to wait and see whether this is a recurring problem before considering other treatments.
Which erectile dysfunction fixes work long term?
Long-term/semi-permanent solutions – there are steps that you can take to improve erectile dysfunction (ED) symptoms in the long run. Although you may not see the benefits immediately, you may find that over time you may not need to take as much ED medicines or use other ‘quick fixes’.
Health check with your doctor – your medical conditions or some of the medications that you may be taking could be making your ED worse. Getting this under control will take a little time, but you might notice a big improvement of your symptoms.
Counselling – if you think that your ED symptoms are caused by anxiety issues, getting to the root of this could help your ED in the long run.
Adopting a healthy lifestyle – exercising regularly, eating a diet low in saturated fats and high in fibre, and being a healthy weight are all associated with an improvement in ED symptoms.
Using medication long-term – ED medicines can be safe to take in the long-term. There is currently conflicting opinions on whether ED medicines can stop working over time. Fortunately, for most people ED medicines do not stop working if you take them long-term.
There is no guaranteed, permanent way to ‘cure’ ED – partly because, age is a factor that affects ED – the older you are, the more likely you are to get ED symptoms. This might mean that even if you have successfully kept your erectile dysfunction under control in the past, you may get ED symptoms again as you get older. Also, there are lots of factors that cause ED. So, one factor that doesn’t affect you right now might do so in the future.
Can I train my erection to work better?
Body training – there are two ways of training your body to reduce the symptoms of erectile dysfunction (ED):
- Pelvic floor exercises – these train the muscles that help support the reproductive organs. Regularly exercising these muscles can improve blood flow to the genitals, which improves erections
- Exercising regularly – this can also help with symptoms of ED. Exercising regularly can improve the general blood flow around your body, including to your genitals. It can also help with self-confidence, being a healthy weight, and getting other medical conditions under control. All of these can help symptoms of ED
Mental training – if you think your ED is caused by psychological factors, you can use different techniques to train your body to minimise the effect of this on your ED:
- Relaxation techniques – being tense, stressed, or anxious means that symptoms of ED could get worse. Being able to relax when things make you feel stressed could mean that you can have better erections on the days that you are feeling more stress
- Communication with a partner – sometimes, good communication with your partner can help with anxiety issues that are causing your ED
Dr Nicholas Antonakopoulos graduated from the University of London in 2006. He did his postgraduate training in hospitals in the London area, and he trained for four years in Trauma and Orthopaedic Surgery before completing his training in General practice in 2015.Meet our doctors
Last reviewed: 27 Feb 2019
El-Galley, R. et al (2001). Long-term efficacy of sildenafil and tachyphylaxis effect. J Urol; 166: 927-931.
Feldman, H., A. (1994). Impotence and its medical and psychosocial correlates: results of the Massachusetts male aging study. The Journal of Urology, Feb; 151(1): 54-61.
Khera, M. and Cunningham, G., R. (2018). Treatment of male sexual dysfunction. UpToDate. [online] Available at: https://www.uptodate.com/contents/treatment-of-male-sexual-dysfunction [accessed 31st May 2018].
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