January 19, 2021

Can Your Diet Cause Erectile Dysfunction?

Healthier food choices are the way to a better sex life

elderly man drinking a cocktail

It’s a classic date night formula: You have a couple of cocktails and a nice meal, and then, you head home for some bedroom time with your sweetie. But could those drinks and that meal be make harder to get to the “dessert?”

Advertisement

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

“Your diet can affect erectile function in a variety of ways. Keep reading to learn how all of that good food and drink could possibly lead to some not-so-good times in the bedroom from urologist James Ulchaker, MD.

Erectile dysfunction and alcohol

What you drink generally matters more than what you eat, says Dr. Ulchaker. “Alcohol is one of the top things we ingest that impacts erections.”

Too many drinks can lead to a disappointing performance between the sheets. And men who have a history of heavy drinking or alcohol dependence are more likely to experience long-term problems with sexual function. That can include erectile dysfunction (ED), low sexual desire and premature ejaculation.

Think you can just counteract a few too many drinks with a little blue pill? Sadly, it doesn’t always work that way. Prescription medications used to treat erectile dysfunction don’t work as well on a full stomach or when you’ve been drinking, Dr. Ulchaker says.

“In our society, we typically have a drink, go out to dinner, and then come home and have intercourse. I advise guys to do the opposite: Take erectile medication at 4:30 p.m., have some fun at 6 p.m., then have a drink and go out to dinner.”

Advertisement

Are there foods that can prevent erectile dysfunction?

There’s no miracle food that will magically prevent ED. But a healthy overall eating pattern can decrease your risk. Diets high in saturated fats are linked to heart disease — and men with heart disease are more likely to experience ED.

“High-fat diets can lead to blockages in the coronary arteries and decrease the size of the arteries supplying blood flow to the penis,” Dr. Ulchaker explains.

On the other hand, research has shown that men who follow a Mediterranean diet are less likely to develop ED. The Mediterranean diet is full of fruits, veggies, nuts, beans and fish, and short on meat and full-fat dairy (if ever there was a reason to eat a salad, this might be it).

Some research also suggests that a diet rich in flavonoids can reduce the odds of penile problems. Flavonoids are antioxidant compounds found in foods like fruits, vegetables, seeds and tea. They’re linked to a whole range of health benefits — including benefits in the bedroom.

Obesity and erectile dysfunction

Poor diets can also contribute to excess weight and obesity. And carrying extra pounds can increase the odds of developing ED. But making better dietary choices can help turn things around. Research shows that when men with obesity lose weight, their erectile function tends to improve.

Advertisement

So you can add “healthy sex life” as another reason to adopt nutritious eating habits. “A heart-healthy diet is also good for prostate and penis health,” Dr. Ulchaker says. And it might just bring some romance back to date night.

High blood pressure and ED

Dr. Ulchaker adds that high blood pressure and medication that is used to manage it can cause ED as well. This is a result of not having a proper flow of blood through the arteries. If your blood pressure isn’t well-managed or you’re noticing performance-related side effects from your medication, talk to your doctor.

Related Articles

Flaxseed sprinkled on a salad in a white bowl on a dark wooden table
January 31, 2024
Flaxseed: A Little Seed With Big Health Benefits

Ground flaxseed is full of heart-healthy omega-3s, antioxidants and fiber, and easy to add to just about any recipe

Person eating healthy bowl of noodles with fitness items floating around head
January 17, 2024
How To Shed 10 Pounds — For Good!

Actively choose healthy habits not only when it comes to food and nutrition, but also physical activity and your mental health

close-up of plate with eggs, wheat toast, avocados, hands holding knife and fork
January 9, 2024
Does Reverse Dieting Work?

This strategy doesn’t boost metabolism, but it may help maintain weight loss

male with beer belly on treadmill, with giant mug of beer next to
January 1, 2024
Does Beer Really Cause a ‘Beer Belly’?

Getting rid of excess abdominal fat will take more than just cutting back on cold ones

Oranges in bowl and tofu meal in bowl
December 7, 2023
Should You Take Iron With Vitamin C?

This pairing has long been thought to help your body better absorb iron

Person eating a frosted pink donut.
November 9, 2023
Cheat Days: The Great Debate

These breaks may have some benefits — but they promote an unhealthy attitude toward food

Person during a consultation with their dietitian.
November 8, 2023
Could You Have a Fructan Intolerance?

A low-FODMAP elimination diet can help identify your symptoms

Physician's hand holding a blue pill in the palm of his hand, offering it to a patient.
November 7, 2023
Debunking 5 Myths About Viagra

Don’t believe everything you’ve heard about ‘the little blue pill’

Trending Topics

glass of cherry juice with cherries on table
Sleepy Girl Mocktail: What’s in It and Does It Really Make You Sleep Better?

This social media sleep hack with tart cherry juice and magnesium could be worth a try

Exercise and diet over three months is hard to accomplish.
Everything You Need To Know About the 75 Hard Challenge

Following five critical rules daily for 75 days may not be sustainable

Person in foreground standing in front of many presents with person in background holding gift bags.
What Is Love Bombing?

This form of psychological and emotional abuse is often disguised as excessive flattery

Ad