Is Erectile Dysfunction (ED) Reversible?

If you’re a middle-aged or elder man, ask yourself the following question: can you do the stuff you did when you were young just as good now? Can you eat as much or you notice you suddenly have that extra fat around the belly? I’m guessing most of you will say, no, no we can’t. Well, it’s just that time is doing its deed, my friends. It’s doing what it’s supposed to do. We age, our bodies change, we experience erectile dysfunction (or ED) – it’s a natural process. But the good news is that’s not the end of the road. I can also assume many of you have asked yourselves – well, is ED reversible?  

I’m not sure I’d use that word though. It’s a weird phrasing yet people like to use it a lot. ED can be managed. And yes, as we get older, we’re more likely to experience it. But young folks can experience ED too. 

Be young or old(er), there are still many ways you can enjoy your sex life and feel pleasure. Even if you start experiencing ED, you can still stay in the game. 

What do the stats have to say about ED?

Well, here is a very good study done by JB McKinlay, a researcher at the New England Research Institutes and published in the International Journal of Impotence Research. It just proves the fact that ED becomes more common as we age. McKinlay says how “while 8% of men in their forties report either moderate or complete ED, this approaches 40% in men aged 60 ± 69 y[ears]”. 

What this means is that men who are aged between 60 and 69 are four times more likely to experience moderate or complete ED, compared to the 40-year olds, that is. 

And, the bad news is that the prevalence of ED, worldwide, is actually increasing. So if in 1995 there were 152 million men suffering from it, in 2025 it is estimated that the number will come to 322 million men. That’s a 170 million increase in men suffering from ED! 

As McKinlay notes, the largest part of this ED increase will actually happen in the so-called “developing world”. He mostly connects it with the aging population of the world (more and more people are living longer lives, which means more of them are also likely to experience ED). As related factors to developing ED, he notes significant increases in weight, smoking, changes in diet (unhealthy eating habits), as well as diabetes. 

Can Erectile Dysfunction be Reversed?

Before I try to answer the question “can ED be reversed” and how you can do it, or at least treat and manage it, I want to go a little bit into the reasons why it shows up in the first place. 

We saw some of the causes and reasons above, but now I wanna be a bit more thorough and give you a better overview of them. 

What are the Causes of ED?

There are actually lots of reasons why ED may occur. Sometimes it’s pretty straightforward – it’s just a common side-effect of a certain medication you’re taking, such as blood pressure drugs or antidepressants. 

But, for most men out there who have experienced ED, the cause of it is more complex. So let’s take a look at most of the possible causes and see whether, if we act upon them, we can reverse ED. 

ED caused by certain medications

As I mentioned in the previous section, ED can be the result, a side-effect of certain medications. 

  • Antidepressants, such as the commonly abbreviated SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors).
  • Medications that work by lowering your blood pressure (high blood pressure medications, such as beta-blockers or diuretics). 
  • Sedatives that are prescribed to help you with anxiety, stress, nervousness, and problems with your sleep or insomnia. 
  • Medications that treat stomach ulcers or acid reflux. 
  • Medicines that are used as part of therapy for prostate cancer, such as antiandrogens. 

In these cases, managing the dose – adjusting it, lowering it, or stopping it may reverse ED and

improve your erectile function. However, you absolutely mustn’t do this alone. If you consider meddling with the dosage of a certain medication you’re taking, by all means, talk to a doctor about it and see whether they agree or not. If they do agree, talk again on how best to do this, under their guidance. 

Lifestyle choices that can lead to ED

Certain ways of life can also contribute or worsen aspects of ED:

  • Unhealthy eating habits
  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • Smoking 
  • Drug abuse
  • Being obese or overweight
  • Lack of exercise, not moving much. 

If you take a step back, pause a little and take a bit of time to address these habits and behaviors, then you might succeed in reversing ED. 

A healthy lifestyle goes a long way for any number of conditions and diseases, and ED is not an exclusion. 

Eating right, meaning more vegetables, fruit, fiber, and protein, and less refined sugar and fatty foods are just one of the ways you can fix your diet. Eating in regular intervals, and not overeating can also be of help. 

Quitting smoking will be good for your cardiovascular health, your circulation, and we all know ED is tightly connected with circulation issues. Reducing the amount of alcohol you take is another crucial step in treating your ED. The same goes for drug abuse. 

Then come the exercises and losing weight. Did you know that “a man with a 42-inch waist is 50% more likely to have ED than one with a 32-inch waist”? According to the same article published in Harvard Health, walking even only 30 minutes a day “was linked with a 41% drop in risk for ED”. Say no more and start walkin’!

Also, start doing those Kegels because they can help with a bunch of sexual performance issues, including ED, and also premature ejaculation (PE). They can help you achieve better orgasms and last longer in bed! By strengthening your pelvic floor muscles you help your penis maintain rigidity once an erection occurs. They also keep the blood from leaving the penis. 

Psychological reasons for ED

And last but not least come the psychological factors related to ED. Now, these factors can either be the sole culprits behind ED, or they can emerge in a combination with other factors that are not necessarily psychological in nature. 

Let’s take a look at some of them:

  • General stress and anxiety
  • Depression
  • Sexual performance anxiety, aka SPA  
  • Issues in your relationship or marriage
  • Self-esteem issues and poor body image

Okay, so addressing psychological issues might be a tad trickier than physical ones, because they’re so unique to every individual. So is their “cure”. But acknowledging you have one is the first step towards solving your issue and moving on. 

Whatever it is, it’s best to talk it out. Sharing it with your partner/wife, or with a friend can be a good idea. Someone you trust, you know. And more serious psychological conditions, such as severe anxiety and depression, require professional help. So I suggest you definitely schedule a session with a therapist and tell them what’s going on. If it’s a relationship or marital problems you’re going through, you can always try couples therapy. Alternately, if it’s particularly sexual issues you need to work on, such as ED, and other stuff along the way, then I suggest visiting a sex therapist. 

You can also deal with self-esteem issues and poor body image in a variety of ways. Again, talking about it is a good idea. You can talk to a psychologist or a therapist about your biggest insecurities and see what you can do about them. What you can also do is think about whether your partner makes you feel that way, in which case, you will have to confront them. 

And, if you’re persistently unsatisfied with your self-image, and want to make some changes, you can always start tomorrow, or better yet – today. Here again, healthy habits such as better diet and exercise can be a great start to get you where you want to be. Happy and healthy!

When ED is a Warning Sign for More Serious Conditions 

Now stuff is getting more serious. Yes, ED can sometimes be a tell-tale sign of a more serious, underlying condition that you might not be aware of. The good news is these conditions are often treatable and respond well to medications and change of lifestyle. 

These are some of the health conditions and diseases that ED can be a result of: 

  • Heart disease – this encompasses a range of heart conditions like CAD – coronary artery disease and atherosclerosis, which is a hardening of the arteries caused by high levels of cholesterol in the body. 
  • High cholesterol and high triglycerides can damage arteries in our body, and they can also cause a stroke. 
  • Diabetes type 2 – did you know that men with diabetes have three times more chance to experience ED? Also, they may end up developing it 10-15 years earlier than men who don’t have diabetes.  
  • High blood pressure (hypertension).
  • Low levels of the testosterone hormone.
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS).
  • The forming of scar tissue in the penis (usually due to trauma or injury), also called Peyronie’s disease
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Having undergone penis surgery, or surgery to the bladder, the spinal cord, the prostate, or the pelvis. Also, nerve damage and injuries to these areas can also cause ED.  

Obviously, you will need to get an expert’s opinion on these conditions. If you think that there’s even a slight chance you might be having them, then you should definitely schedule a check-up. Especially if you’re middle-aged or older if you’ve recently had an operation or an injury to the penis, and the other genitalia, as well as the spinal cord. Also, if you have unhealthy eating habits, and have had them for years, which might result in heart disease, as well as high levels of cholesterol and triglycerides. Don’t wait until it becomes too late to treat whatever might be going on. For more serious conditions, it’s best to curb them in their infancy, when they’re still manageable or relatively harmless. 

Reversing ED – Can You Use Medications? 

As you saw so far, ED can be reversed depending on what causes it. Most of the lifestyle changes would apply to any other conditions, so it’s not a bad idea to start as soon as possible. Also, if some medications are causing too strong side-effects that interfere with your erections and causing ED, then you should definitely discuss it with your doctor to see if there’s room for maneuver. 

And now another question is – can ED be treated or reversed with medicines? Well, there are some FDA-approved medications that can treat ED. And, of course, it can’t hurt if you put them in combination with the lifestyle changes, now can it? 

These medications are called phosphodiesterase-5 (PDE5) inhibitors and among them are: 

  • Sildenafil or commonly known by its brand name Viagra
  • Tadalafil or going by its brand name Cialis
  • Vardenafil and its brand name Levitra
  • Avanafil with the brand name Stendra. 

Usually, these pills are to be taken one or two hours before intercourse. However, the nerve function of the penis should be functioning normally, if they are to work. The PDE5 inhibitors help blood flow into the penis better. 

According to the AUA (American Urology Academy), “7 out of 10 men do well and have better erections” upon taking the drugs. Men who are cancer patients or diabetics show lower response results, however. 

You shouldn’t take these drugs if you are “taking nitrates for your heart”, says the AUA. In any event, you shouldn’t take drugs such as these on your own. It’s always best to consult with a doctor or another type of health professional first. 

Testosterone therapy

As you saw above, low levels of testosterone can also be a cause of ED. This is not that common, but it can happen. In these cases, testosterone therapy, usually combined with ED drugs, can help you regain your erections back. 

Other treatments

There are also a bunch of other treatments for ED, such as: 

  • Penile injections – in these cases the drug Alprostadil is injected through the ICI method (intracavernosal) or through the IU method (aka the urethra). 
  • Using a vacuum erection device. 
  • Penile Implants
  • Surgery – this is usually done if there has been any damage to the penile arteries, especially for younger men who’ve had severe injuries to their pelvis. The AUA notes that this kind of surgery is not recommended for older men whose arteries are hardened. 

I won’t go into details about them here. But if you think that some of them might actually help you with your ED, share that with your doctor and see which possible treatments you can take or undergo. 

You can also try some natural, herbal remedies, but research data here is scarce. Korean red ginseng has shown some promising results, though. According to this Korean study says how “if administered for a prolonged period of time,” the ginseng shows “the cumulative effect on [the] vascular flow”. They noticed a 60% overall therapeutic efficacy in the men taking ginseng, compared to 30% in the groups that took a placebo or another drug (trazodone). However, they ask for more research on the potential effects of ginseng in treating ED. 

Final Thoughts 

ED is not something that a handful of men experience. As we saw so far, a lot of us will actually get to experience it as we grow older and go through life. 

The problem arises when it starts to meddle with our sex lives and our attempts to enjoy sex and feel pleasure from it. However, we also saw that ED can be managed and there are treatments for it. 

Including your partner in your ED treatment is also a good idea. I know men often feel ashamed from the emergence of ED, but you will need to overcome this somehow because it might just make matters worse. Not talking about it and keeping it all in yourself can halt your sex life and even kill it, if it keeps going on and on. 

Sit down with your wife or partner and share your concerns. Then start to slowly change your lifestyle. It’s the least you can do and it doesn’t require any doctor’s assistance! If the ED keeps on returning though, start looking for other solutions. 

Get in touch with your doctor, do a whole body check-up, talk to a therapist if necessary. The solution is out there, you just have to go out and look for it for a little while. 

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