Reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
While these are the best-known treatments for ED, there are also several natural alternatives that have been studied to see if they can reduce the impact and likelihood of erectile dysfunction without a trip to the doctor.
One such natural ED treatment can be found your morning cup of coffee. Caffeine, which is consumed on a daily basis by approximately 85% of adults, is linked to reduced instances of erectile dysfunction in men aged 20 and above.
Does this mean caffeine can replace sildenafil (generic Viagra), tadalafil, and other ED medications as a useful treatment for erectile dysfunction?
Not quite. But it does potentially show positive results in preventing ED and could make for a simple, surprisingly effective to your general health routine.
An interesting study published in PLOS ONE in 2015 investigated the role of caffeine in ED by analyzing 3,724 men aged 20 and above.
The men were asked a single question survey about ED, then polled on their eating habits over the last 24 hours to assess their caffeine intake.
The researchers found that men in the 3rd or 4th quintiles of caffeine intake were less likely to report ED than men in the lowest quintile -- a group largely made up of men that consumed no caffeine at all.
The 3rd and 4th quintile groups consisted of men that consumed 85-170mg and 171-303mg of caffeine per 24 hours.
To put this in perspective, a single 12oz cup of brewed coffee has about 120mg of caffeine.
In short, drinking one or two cups of coffee per day could reduce the risk of experiencing ED, assuming you’re drinking regular strength coffee.
However, it's important to note that this is very much a correlation does not equal causation type of situation.
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Right now, researchers aren’t completely sure why caffeine consumption is negatively correlated with erectile dysfunction.
One theory is that caffeine causes the helicine arteries -- two essential arteries for achieving an erection -- to relax, improving blood flow and creating an erection.
Interestingly, caffeine does this while having many of the opposite side effects of common ED medication.
Unlike sildenafil (Viagra) and tadalafil (Cialis), which are associated with a slight reduction in blood pressure in studies, caffeine tends to temporarily increase blood pressure.
In fact, there are very few studies on caffeine’s role in erections at all. As such, it’s best to view caffeine as a potentially mild aid for erection difficulties, but not as a potential replacement for any of the FDA approved, scientifically proven ED drugs on the market.
However, you shouldn’t fear coffee if you have ED.
A shot of espresso or milky latte isn’t going to negatively affect your sexual performance, meaning there’s no reason to avoid your morning cup of coffee if you’re concerned about erectile dysfunction.