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Reducing Your Risk of Erectile Dysfunction (Impotence)

  • Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Publication Type:

Condition InDepth

Reducing Your Risk of Erectile Dysfunction (Impotence)

There are steps that can lower the risk of erectile dysfunction (ED).

Manage Health Problems

ED may be caused by chronic diseases of the lungs, liver, kidneys, heart, nerves, arteries, or veins. Follow care plans for any health problems that could affect the ability to have an erection, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and depression.

Take Medicine as Advised

People who think their medicine may be causing ED should talk to their doctors. The medicine may be stopped, changed, or adjusted. Some medicines that may cause problems are ones used to treat:

Eat a Balanced Diet and Exercise Regularly to Maintain a Healthy Weight

Being overweight or obese raises the risk of ED. Eating a healthful diet and exercising regularly can also help to maintain a healthy weight.

A healthful diet is one that is high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and omega-3 fatty acids. Limit aturated fat, sugars, and simple carbohydrates.

Exercise regularly to promote overall health. Aim for 30 minutes on most days of the week. Walking is a good choice. Keep in mind that exercise can also help lower stress.

Quit Smoking

Tobacco can harm blood vessels, including the ones in the penis. There are many ways to quit smoking, such as nicotine replacement products and counseling.

Avoid Alcohol and Drugs

Excessive use of alcohol can lower sex drive and lead to ED. Using drugs like cocaine, amphetamines, marijuana, and opioids can also cause problems. Take steps to avoid alcohol and drugs.

Seek Support

Mental health problems like stress, anxiety, and depression can affect function and lead to ED. Individual or couples therapy can be helpful.


  • Definition & facts for erectile dysfunction. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/urologic-diseases/erectile-dysfunction/definition-facts.
  • Erectile dysfunction. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/erectile-dysfunction.
  • Rew KT, Heidelbaugh JJ. Erectile dysfunction. Am Fam Physician. 2016;94(10):820-827.
  • What is erectile dysfunction? Urology Care Foundation website. Available at: https://www.urologyhealth.org/urology-a-z/e/erectile-dysfunction-(ed).


  • Mark S. Itzkowitz, MD, JD
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.