10 ways of knowing that you are properly squeezing your pelvic floor muscles (PFM): 1) The base of your penis retracts inwards towards the pubic bone as you contract your PFM. 2) The testes rise towards the groin as you contract your PFM. 3) When you place your index and middle fingers in the midline between the scrotum and anus you feel these muscles tighten as you contract your PFM. 4) You can pucker your anus (not the gluteal muscles) as you contract your PFM. You feel the anus tighten and pull up and in, known as “anal wink.” 5) You get the same feeling as you do when you are ejaculating when you contract your PFM. 6) When you touch your erect penis, you feel the erectile cylinders surge with blood as you contract your PFM. 7) You can make your erect penis elevate (lift and point) as you contract your PFM. 8) You can stop your urinary stream completely when you contract your PFM. 9) You can push out the last few drops of urine that remain after completing urination when you contract your PFM. 10) After pursuing PFM training, you notice improvements in erectile rigidity and durability as well as better quality ejaculations, ejaculatory control and improvement in urinary control.

While generally thought of as a problem affecting only older men, a study published in 2013 found that one in four men with newly diagnosed ED at a clinic in Italy were younger than 40 years old. With other research suggesting over half of all men between the ages of 40 and 70 now suffer from some degree of ED, and estimates showing the total cost of orthodox treatment in the United States could reach $15 billion if all men affected sought treatment, solutions that address the condition’s primary cause are urgently needed.


Tiffany La Forge is a professional chef, recipe developer, and food writer who runs the blog Parsnips and Pastries. Her blog focuses on real food for a balanced life, seasonal recipes, and approachable health advice. When she’s not in the kitchen, Tiffany enjoys yoga, hiking, traveling, organic gardening, and hanging out with her corgi, Cocoa. Visit her at her blog or on Instagram.
Also called vacuum devices, penile pumps are devices that are placed over the penis to draw blood into the shaft. Once the vacuum creates an erection, the retaining band is slid down to the lower end of the penis and the pump is removed. An erection typically will last long enough for intercourse but your penis may be cold to the touch and the rubber band may restrict ejaculation.22

A cold slice of watermelon can do more than just satisfy thirst and hunger during the warm summer months; it can help with bedroom satisfaction. Citrulline, the amino acid found in high concentrations of watermelon, is found to improve blood flow to the penis. A 2011 study revealed men who suffered from mild to moderate ED and took L-citrulline supplementation showed an improvement with their erectile function and were very satisfied. Natural watermelon juice, or “nature’s Viagra,” can also be easier on the stomach, since taking pills like Viagra can cause nausea and diarrhea.


Impotence, or erectile dysfunction (ED), is the inability for a man to sustain an erection long enough for normal, satisfying sexual intercourse.  To understand the underlying causes of impotence, it helps to know the basics about how an erection develops, along with potential problems that get in the way. Erections begin in the brain with a thought related to sexual desire. Then a chemical message travels from the brain to the penis. Blood flow to the penis increases as blood vessels leading to the reproductive system relax and allow for increased circulation.
Dan practices a unique blend of conventional and holistic medicine, drawing on his extensive experience with integrative techniques like healing touch, guided imagery and yoga. By fostering an understanding of the deep connections between body, mind and spirit, Dan seeks to help every patient unlock his or her own innate healing ability. He received his MD from the Hahnemann College of Medicine and completed his residency in family practice through UCSF. Dan is a fellow of the Wilderness Medical Society, is a clinical instructor at UCSF, and is certified with both the American Board of Family Medicine and the American Board of Holistic Medicine. Dan is a One Medical Group provider and sees patients in our San Francisco offices.
"The problem with alternative treatments for any medical problem, including erectile dysfunction, is that until you have about 20 well-controlled studies over several years, you really don't know what you are working with," cautions Richard Harris, MD, a urologist at Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, part of the Loyola University Health System in Chicago.

With drug therapy, there’s a risk of side effects such as headaches, back pain or an upset stomach. Before taking any medication for erectile dysfunction it is important to ensure your doctor is ok with that decision. Medication may not work for all men, for instance, if you have diabetes or have previously had prostate surgery. ED medication might also have serious risks if you’re currently taking nitrates (commonly prescribed for chest pain), have heart disease or have low blood pressure.22
These drugs facilitate erection by inhibiting the PDE5 enzyme, by blocking the degradation of cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP) in the cavernous smooth muscles. This inhibition results in the prolonged activity of cGMP, which further decreases intracellular calcium concentrations, maintains smooth muscle relaxation and, hence, results in rigid penile erections.

In one study, men with a Vitamin D deficiency were nearly 33% more likely to have ED. But you don’t need that much sun exposure to get a healthy amount of Vitamin D. As little as 15–20 minutes a day is enough. Taking Vitamin D is a good idea, especially if you are over 65. Vitamin D can also help if you’re obese or dark-skinned (dark skin limits the amount of Vitamin D you naturally, produce)
Turns out that good ol’ P.B. is an aphrodisiac in disguise. It’s rich in two nutrients that are key to good bedroom performance: Niacin (with a quarter of your recommended daily value in two tablespoons) and vitamin E (75% of your DV in that same serving). In a study printed in the Journal of Sexual Health, men suffering from impotence who took a niacin supplement reported a significant improvement in their bedroom prowess compared to men who took a placebo. Peanut butter is also a good source of folate, which improves sperm quality. Click here to see our top 16 Nut Butters for Muscle Building and Weight Loss!
If you want to go long enough to help your date reach the big O, reach for some oatmeal. The popular breakfast cereal is a good source of l-arginine, an amino acid commonly used to treat erectile dysfunction. Plus, whole grains like oatmeal also help lower cholesterol levels. Having high cholesterol can lead to atherosclerosis, a condition that clogs and narrows arteries, impairing blood flow. This could eventually lead to heart problems, but you’ll likely notice issues below the belt first. The arteries surrounding the genital area are narrower than coronary blood vessels, so they’re more susceptible to clots. Simply put, the better your cholesterol levels are, the better your erection will be, too.
In one study, men with a Vitamin D deficiency were nearly 33% more likely to have ED. But you don’t need that much sun exposure to get a healthy amount of Vitamin D. As little as 15–20 minutes a day is enough. Taking Vitamin D is a good idea, especially if you are over 65. Vitamin D can also help if you’re obese or dark-skinned (dark skin limits the amount of Vitamin D you naturally, produce)
Selenium is a trace mineral found in Brazil nuts that plays an important role in hormone health. You only need a tiny bit for healthy sperm, but a tiny deficiency can be catastrophic for reproductive health. In one study, men who had lower testosterone and were infertile also had significantly lower selenium levels than the fertile group. Supplementing with the mineral improved chances of successful conception by 56 percent. And a second study that included 69 infertile men with low levels of the mineral, found selenium supplementation could significantly improve sub-par sperm motility associated with testosterone deficiency. Moreover, 11 percent of the men successfully impregnated their partners during the trial!
Nitric oxide is made internally from L-arginine, which is an amino acid found in red meat, poultry, fish, and dairy products. In other words, L-arginine is the building block for nitric oxide, which is essential for erections. A lack of one can lead to a lack of the other. However, there’s a problem when it comes to treating L-arginine deficiency with supplements.

Coffee / Caffeine.  A study found that men who consume the equivalent of 2-3 cups of coffee per day have a 39% lower incidence of erectile dysfunction than men who do not drink coffee11. Although the study showed a correlation between drinking coffee and  a lowered incidence of ED, it did not demonstrate a causative relationship.  Note that consuming larger amounts of coffee can raise stress and adrenaline levels, and can actually contribute to ED.
The phrase “use it before you lose it” can be applied when it comes to helping men with ED regain normal erectile function. Pelvic exercises, more commonly known as kegel exercises, are used to promote urinary continence and sexual health. They help to strengthen the bulbocavernosus muscle, which does three things: allows the penis to engorge with blood during erection, it pumps during ejaculation, and it helps empty the urethra after urination, according to Healthline.
Arginine. The amino acid L-arginine, which occurs naturally in food, boosts the body's production of nitric oxide, a compound that facilitates erections by dilating blood vessels in the penis. Studies examining L-arginine's effectiveness against impotence have yielded mixed results. A 1999 trial published in the online journal BJU International found that high doses of L-arginine can help improve sexual function, but only in men with abnormal nitric oxide metabolism, such as that associated with cardiovascular disease. In another study, published in 2003 in the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, Bulgarian scientists reported that ED sufferers who took L-arginine along with the pine extract pycnogenol saw major improvements in sexual function with no side effects. Arginine can be helpful, says Geo Espinosa, ND, director of the Integrative Urological Center at NYU Langone Medical Center. Espinosa says that men with known cardiovascular problems should take it only with a doctor's supervision; L-arginine can interact with some medications.
A variety of personal habits and lifestyle choices have been linked to ED. In some ways, this is a good thing, since habits can be broken and choices reconsidered. What's more, many of the lifestyle factors that contribute to sexual problems are ones that affect overall health and well-being, both physical and mental. Addressing these factors, therefore, can have benefits beyond improving erectile dysfunction.
The penile roots are enveloped by two pelvic floor muscles, the bulbocavernosus (BC) and the ischiocavernosus (IC). The IC muscle is the “erector muscle” and the BC muscle the “ejaculator muscle.” The BC and IC muscles are responsible for the ability to lift one’s erect penis up and down (wag the penis) as they are contracted and relaxed. Although not muscles of glamour, they are certainly muscles of “amour.” Although unseen and behind-the-scenes, hidden from view, these often unrecognized and misunderstood muscles have vital functions in addition to erection and ejaculation. When the pelvic floor muscles are not functioning optimally, one loses the potential for full erectile rigidity. Like other skeletal muscles, they can undergo “disuse atrophy,” becoming thinner, flabbier and less functional with aging, weight gain, sedentary lifestyles, poor posture, chronic straining and other forms of trauma, including pelvic surgery (e.g., prostatectomy). Exercising them can enhance sexual health; maintain sexual health; help prevent the occurrence of ED in the future; and help manage ED. Specifically, pelvic floor exercises can be beneficial with respect to the following spectrum of issues: ED; ejaculation issues including premature ejaculation; urinary incontinence; overactive bladder; post-void dribbling; and bowel urgency and incontinence. One of the challenges of pelvic floor training is that most men do not know where their pelvic muscles are located, what they do, how to exercise them, and what benefits exercising them may confer. In fact, many men don’t even know that they have pelvic floor muscles. Because they are out of sight, they are often out of mind and not considered when it comes to exercise and fitness. However, although concealed from view, they deserve serious respect as they are responsible for vital functions that can be enhanced when intensified by training. Pelvic floor muscle training before and after prostate cancer surgery can facilitate the resumption of urinary control and sexual function after surgery. Pelvic floor training is also useful for men who suffer with stress urinary incontinence following prostatectomy. This is a spurt-like urinary leakage that occurs at times of increased abdominal pressure, such as with sports and other high impact activities. Pelvic floor contractions on demand are a technique in which the pelvic muscles are braced and briskly engaged at the time or just before any activity that triggers the stress incontinence. When practiced diligently, this can ultimately become an automatic behavior and the incontinence improved, if not resolved.

Gutiérrez-González, Enrique; Castelló, Adela; Fernández-Navarro, Pablo; Castaño-Vinyals, Gemma; Llorca, Javier; Salas-Trejo, Dolores; Salcedo-Bellido, Inmaculada; Aragonés, Nuria; Fernández-Tardón, Guillermo; Alguacil, Juan; Gracia-Lavedan, Esther; García-Esquinas, Esther; Gómez-Acebo, Inés; Amiano, Pilar; Romaguera, Dora; Kogevinas, Manolis; Pollán, Marina; Pérez-Gómez, Beatriz. “Dietary Zinc and Risk of Prostate Cancer in Spain: MCC-Spain Study.” Nutrients. Jan 2019, 11(1).


Just because a product claims to be natural doesn't mean it's safe. Many herbal remedies and dietary supplements can cause side effects and dangerous interactions when taken with certain medications. Talk to your doctor before you try an alternative treatment for erectile dysfunction — especially if you're taking medications or you have a chronic health problem such as heart disease or diabetes.
×