Is it possible to reverse erectile dysfunction?
ED may mean that it is not possible to get an erection some of the time, or it may prevent an erection at any time. In some cases, it may be possible to get an erection for a short amount of time only.
A doctor may recommend treatments based on the underlying cause of ED. Possible causes include various medical conditions, taking certain medications, and psychological issues.
Treating an underlying cause
If an underlying medical condition causes ED, then treating that condition may help reverse it.
Conditions that may cause ED include:
- hypertension or high blood pressure
- heart and blood vessel disease
- atherosclerosis, which causes plaques to build up in the arteries
- Peyronie’s disease, which causes scar tissue to build up under the skin of the penis
- multiple sclerosis
- chronic kidney disease (CKD)
Injury may also lead to ED. This can include injury to the following:
- spinal cord
Treatment will depend on the specific condition. It is best to contact a doctor to discuss specific treatment options and medications that they recommend.
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Medication to increase blood flow
A doctor may prescribe oral medications to increase blood flow to the penis. Examples include:
It is important to let your doctor know about any other medications you are taking. These medications are generally not suitable for taking alongside nitrates for treating a heart condition or alpha-blockers for prostate enlargement.
A doctor may prescribe testosterone if they believe that low levels of testosterone are contributing to or causing ED.
A 2022 article on the effects of testosterone on erectile function highlighted various studies that reported improvement in erectile function after taking testosterone. For example, a study of 49 people with hypogonadism, where the body does not produce enough testosterone, saw improvement in erectile function after 3 months of testosterone monotherapy.
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, testosterone treatment may not be beneficial for people with age-related or late-onset hypogonadism.
Your doctor will be able to advise on whether they recommend testosterone treatment.
Certain lifestyle strategies may help a person reverse ED. Steps a doctor may recommend include:
- maintaining a moderate weight
- consuming a healthy diet
- getting enough regular physical activity or exercise
- quitting smoking if you currently smoke
- reducing anxiety or stress
Your doctor can provide more tips that may help with reversing ED.
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Counseling or therapy
As psychological factors can play a role in both primary and secondary ED, counseling or therapy may help reverse it.
More than 90% of cases are secondary ED. They typically develop as a result of an underlying condition, such as a vascular or neurological disorder. But individuals with secondary ED may develop reactive psychological problems that can worsen ED.
Primary ED is a rare type of ED. It typically affects a person from puberty and may be the result of psychological problems.
If psychological factors are causing or contributing to ED, your doctor may recommend therapy. A therapist can help you find ways to manage stress and anxiety.
Couples therapy may also be beneficial in helping your partner find ways to support you.
Some people may choose to try herbal remedies to reverse ED.
Ginkgo may help improve blood flow, which in turn might help treat ED. Still, a 2021 review notes that more research into this is necessary.
A different 2021 review suggests that ginseng may improve a person’s self‐reported ability to have intercourse. But the review also notes that ginseng may only have trivial effects on erectile function.
Horny goat weed may help improve sexual function. A 2010 study looked at the effects of icariin, the active ingredient in horny goat weed, in rats with cavernous nerve injury. The study indicates that icariin may have neurotrophic effects, meaning it may be beneficial for nerve-related ED.
Still, more research is necessary, particularly in humans.
It is best to contact a doctor for advice before trying any herbal remedies to reverse ED.
Certain medications may cause or contribute to ED. These can include:
- antihypertensive such as beta-blockers
- cytotoxics, which are medications for use in chemotherapy
- anti-androgens, which doctors prescribe to suppress androgens
- fibrates, which doctors prescribe to lower cholesterol
- H2-antagonists, which doctors prescribe to treat stomach ulcers
It is important to continue taking any prescription medication until your doctor recommends otherwise. Your doctor will be able to review your medication and recommend any changes if they feel it may be affecting erectile function.
Frequently asked questions
Here are some frequently asked questions about ED.
How can I reverse ED naturally?
It may be possible to reverse ED with herbal remedies, but more research is necessary. Depending on the cause of ED, therapy and lifestyle strategies such as exercise and weight management may be more beneficial.
What is the fastest way to cure ED?
The time it takes to cure or reverse ED may depend on the cause. If it occurs due to an underlying medical condition, treating the condition may help reverse ED. Taking steps to relieve stress or anxiety may also help.
How can I reverse erectile dysfunction permanently?
There are numerous steps a person can take to reverse ED permanently. This can include treating the underlying cause, taking lifestyle measures, and receiving therapy. Doctors may also prescribe testosterone treatment and medications to improve blood flow and help improve erectile function.
Is ED permanent or temporary?
Secondary ED, which accounts for more than 90% of cases, is generally treatable by addressing the underlying cause. Primary ED may occur from puberty and may seem permanent. Still, by addressing the anatomical or psychological cause, it may be possible to reverse it.
It may be possible to reverse erectile dysfunction (ED). Various medical conditions can cause ED, and treating the underlying condition may help reverse ED.
Doctors may recommend medication to improve blood flow or increase testosterone levels. They may also suggest therapy or counseling if psychological problems cause or worsen ED.
Lifestyle strategies may be beneficial for reversing ED. Some people may also choose to try herbal remedies, though in most cases more research into the efficacy of herbal treatments for ED is necessary.
It is best to contact a doctor if you have concerns about ED. The doctor will be able to review your current medication, help determine the cause of ED, and advise on suitable treatments for reversing ED.
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- Erectile dysfunction (impotence). (2020). https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/erection-problems-erectile-dysfunction/
- Erectile dysfunction (impotence). (2023). https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/sexual-and-reproductive/erectile-dysfunction-impotence#causes-of-erectile-dysfunction
- Hirsch IH. (2022). Erectile dysfunction. https://www.msdmanuals.com/en-gb/professional/genitourinary-disorders/male-sexual-function-and-dysfunction/erectile-dysfunction
- Horny goat weed. (2022). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK583203/
- Lee HW, et al. (2021). Ginseng for erectile dysfunction. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8094213/
- Mashhadi ZN, et al. (2021). A systematic review of clinical trials on Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) effectiveness on sexual function and its safety. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8264219/
- Schardein JN, et al. (2022). The impact of testosterone on erectile function. https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/full/10.1089/andro.2021.0033
- Shindel AW, et al. (2010). Erectogenic and neurotrophic effects of icariin, a purified extract of horny goat weed (Epimedium spp.) in vitro and in vivo. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3551978/
- Symptoms & causes of erectile dysfunction. (2017). https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/urologic-diseases/erectile-dysfunction/symptoms-causes
- Treatment for erectile dysfunction. (2017). https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/urologic-diseases/erectile-dysfunction/treatment