Did you know that around 5% of men aged 40, and 15% of men aged 70 have complete erectile dysfunction?
A common misconception is that erectile dysfunction only occurs in older men. While that is mostly true, it doesn’t mean that ED isn’t common among younger men. Lifestyle choices among younger men has led to a sharp increase in the number of young men suffering from erectile dysfunction. A 2013 study published by the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that 1 in every 4 men who were newly diagnosed with ED were below the age of 40, and roughly 50% of them were suffering from severe ED.
This is a stark contrast to what many people believe.
Causes of Erectile Dysfunction
- Excessive smoking
- Substance abuse
- Prostate cancer
- Cardiovascular disease
Treatment for Erectile Dysfunction
The good news is that there’s a cure for ED. Depending on the underlying cause of the problem, your doctor can opt for one of these treatment options;
- Therapy – Applies to men whose main cause of ED is stress, depression, or anxiety.
- Lifestyle changes – Applies to men who are heavy drinkers or smokers. Quitting or reducing smoking, drinking or substance abuse may improve the condition.
- Medicines – Your doctor can also prescribe medication to help treat ED. Viagra is one of the most common pills prescribed to ED patients.
- Exercises – Although it’s less common than medication, there are studies that have shown that certain exercises can help.
- Acoustic Shockwave Therapy – This is the newest kid on the block. This procedure utilizes high frequency, low intensity sound waves to improve blood flow to the penis. The sound waves repair aged blood vessels, stimulate growth of new blood vessels and remove decades of micro-plaque.
Do Exercises Really Work?
A 2004 Harvard Study found that walking for at least 30 minutes every day reduces the risk of ED by about 40%.
Similarly, clinical studies have shown that moderate exercises gradually helped middle aged men improve their performance in the bedroom.
But the BIG QUESTION is, which exercises are most effective? According to this study, pelvic floor exercises, also known as kegel, can help men suffering from ED. The study goes ahead to recommend these exercises as a first line approach for those seeking long term relief from ED.
Pelvic floor physiotherapy (also known as kegel exercises) is the best for erectile dysfunction. It isolates the muscle group at the base of the pelvis (particularly the pubococcygeus), which extends from the pelvic bone to the tailbone and helps to support your pelvic organs. As this muscle grows weaker, it loses the ability to prevent blood flow out of the erect penis.
Activating Your Pelvic Floor Muscle(s)
This is the preliminary exercise to master before attempting other kegel-based exercises. To do it:
- Lie down with your knees bent, your feet flat on the ground, and your arms stationary at your sides
- As you exhale, squeeze the pelvic floor muscles and count to three as you do so.
- Follow it up by inhaling and exhaling while you count out three seconds.
- Be careful to make sure you are identifying and targeting the right muscles (and not the abdomen or buttocks).
Pelvic Floor Activation While Sitting
To do this exercise:
- Sit with your arms flat against your sides and your feet flat on the floor.
- Make sure your feet are roughly hip-width apart.
- Utilizing the same technique you used above, activate your pelvic floor muscles while counting out three seconds, and release them doing the same.
- Again it is imperative that you are targeting your pelvic floor muscles and not your abdomen and/or buttocks.
Pelvic Floor Activation While Standing Upright
For this erectile dysfunction exercise:
- You must stand straight with your arms resting at your sides, and again with your feet hip-width apart.
- Using the same 1-2-3 counting method activate and then relax your pelvic floor muscles, again while ensuring you are isolating the correct muscles.
Pilates are another great group of erectile dysfunction exercises because hey challenge you to use your pelvic floor strength while moving. Prostate experts recommend men take advantage of pilates exercises for a wide range of benefits, including, among other things, improved erectile dysfunction.
The Pelvic Tilt
The pelvic tilt is performed by:
- Lying on the floor with your knees bent and your arms at your side. You will see that, in this position, your lower back does not quite touch the ground.
- Next, flex your hips so that your back does make contact with the floor, so that your pelvic muscles rotate upward and contract.
- Hold this position for 3-5 seconds and then release, repeating for sets of 10-12.
This erectile dysfunction exercises starts from the same position as the pelvic tilt. Next:
- Flatten your lower back against the ground
- As you do this, position your legs slightly to one side. Make sure your legs are together, and your feet firmly on the floor as you do this.
- Return to your starting position and then lower your back again, this time moving your legs to the other side.
The Zip and Hollow
The zip and hollow is quite straightforward:
- Place a mat or a blanket on the floor, lie down, and fully extend your legs on the ground.
- Place your hands on your lower abdomen with your thumbs pointing towards your belly button, your fingers towards your feet, and your hands on your pelvic bone
- Inhale and contract your abdominal muscles so that your navel drops down towards your spinal cord
These exercises, when combined into a regimen that you do on a daily basis, help strengthen the muscles that are used to achieve and maintain an erection. Pharmaceuticals are always going to be popular, but if you set aside some time everyday for the above erectile dysfunction exercises, you will targeting the root cause of the problem and improving your chances of better erectile health.
(2012). “Should men do pilates for pelvic floor muscle strength?” Prostate.net. Retrieved from: http://prostate.net/articles/pilates-for-pelvic-floor-muscles
Chrichton-Stuart, C. (2018). “Do erectile dysfunction exercises help?” Medical News Today. Retrieved from: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322600.php
“Erectile Dysfunction (ED).” UW Health. Retrieved from: http://www.uwhealth.org/urology/erectile-dysfunction-ed/20537
“Kegel exercises for men: understand the benefits.” Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/mens-health/in-depth/kegel-exercises-for-men/art-20045074
Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2021, August 21). Erectile dysfunction. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved October 14, 2021, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/erectile-dysfunction/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20355782.
Harvard Health. 2021. Benefits of exercise for the prostate and erectile dysfunction help – Harvard Health. [online] Available at: <https://www.health.harvard.edu/press_releases/benefits-of-exercise-for-the-prostate> [Accessed 14 October 2021].
Dorey, G., Speakman, M., Feneley, R., Swinkels, A. and Dunn, C., 2005. Pelvic floor exercises for erectile dysfunction. BJU International, 96(4), pp.595-597.