If you’re worried that you’re experiencing erectile difficulties, you’re not the only one: 4.3 million men in the UK are affected by erectile problems*.
The good news is you can now go into your local pharmacy without an appointment for a private consultation about it with the duty pharmacist. You’ll get sound advice from a highly-trained medical professional. They’ll listen to your symptoms, ask about your health, give you lifestyle tips, and if they believe it’s suitable for you, supply an over-the-counter medicine that may be able to help your erectile problems in the shape of VIAGRA Connect®.
*Men reporting occasional and frequent difficulty getting or maintaining an erection [ref. Kantar TNS Omnibus Survey Dec 2010 – in a survey of 1,033 men]
We asked community pharmacist Vijaya Reddy* to reveal the top 6 lifestyle tips she gives to patients who come to her worried about erectile dysfunction.
“I’m unequivocal about this,” says Vijaya, “smoking is up there with the very worst things you can do to your body.”
A pharmacist can also give stop smoking advice and recommend treatments to help during the consultation. Nicotine directly affects blood vessels, including the ones that carry blood to the penis. This reduces the blood flow and makes it more difficult to achieve and keep an erection. By stopping smoking you may notice an improvement in erectile function.
Eat a healthy, balanced diet
Most of us know that we shouldn’t binge on chips, pizza and takeaways and we should aim for a balanced diet.
“Increasing the amount of fruit, vegetables and wholegrains in your diet is a good thing, as is keeping alcohol within the recommended guidelines,” says Vijaya.
As well as being delicious, it’s worth considering the Mediterranean diet - high in fruit and vegetables, fish, grains, cereals, nuts, beans, legumes and using olive oil, an unsaturated fat. One study suggests that the Mediterranean diet may play a part in reducing the prevalence of erectile dysfunction in men who already have metabolic syndrome.
“Exercise has a huge range of benefits, ranging from reducing your risk of serious diseases to lifting your mood and combating the effects of stress” says Vijaya.
Some of the risk factors for ED include heart disease, diabetes and atherosclerosis , and regular exercise plays a part in protecting yourself against these.
Exercise improves circulation to all areas of the body and strengthens muscles, and pelvic floor exercises can specifically help the muscles used to maintain an erection . “Find an exercise you enjoy, be it running, swimming, cycling or a team sport, do it regularly and you’ll soon feel the benefits,” advises Vijaya.
“Being told you need to lose weight can be a hard thing to hear at a consultation for ED, so I tend to emphasise the importance of a healthy diet and exercise as a way of managing weight,” says Vijaya.
Overweight and obese men are more likely to suffer from diabetes, and over 50% of men with diabetes experience ED at some point in their lifetime.
Get regular dental check ups
Many people are surprised to learn that something seemingly as trivial as gum disease may be linked to serious health problems elsewhere in the body, such as cardiovascular disease and lung infections.
Gum disease is also considered a risk factor for erectile dysfunction. Regularly brushing your teeth and gums correctly is all that’s needed to prevent gum disease and keep your breath sweet.
“I recommend all my patients to take full advantage of health checks, including dental,” adds Vijaya.
Manage stress and anxiety
Everyone goes through rough patches: financial problems, work stress or redundancy and relationship or family problems.
Emotional issues can affect your physical ability to get or maintain an erection. Clearly, removing the source of stress is the obvious solution, but that is much easier to say than do.
Getting more exercise, learning to prioritise important things and letting the small stuff go and practising mindfulness meditation are all things that may help.