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Can Erectile Dysfunction (ED) Be Reversed?

Kelly Brown MD, MBA

Reviewed by Kelly Brown MD, MBA

Written by Geoffrey C. Whittaker

Published 01/08/2021

Updated 05/25/2024

If you’re having trouble with sexual performance, you may wonder, Can erectile dysfunction be reversed? A lot of people can relate — erectile dysfunction (ED) affects about 30 million men in the United States alone.

Unfortunately, the answer to this question can vary about 30 million ways in the U.S. alone.

Erectile dysfunction treatment has to treat the cause of ED, and that cause can be highly individualized. Combinations of psychological issues, underlying health problems, and even injuries can all affect your ability to get and maintain erections and your sexual well-being.

So, how can ED be reversed? We’ll dive into what causes of ED may be reversible and go over treatment options.

Erectile dysfunction can absolutely be treatable, reversible, and manageable, according to numerous studies. But it depends on why you have ED.

Men might struggle with erectile problems from any number of long-term issues or causes of temporary ED.

Risk factors and causes of erectile dysfunction can include:

  • Medical conditions. Conditions like diabetes, atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), and hypertension (aka high blood pressure) can contribute to ED by impacting vascular health. There may also be a link between chronic conditions and low testosterone, according to a 2020 study that looked at 3,862 men exploring sexual dysfunction treatment.

  • Psychological factors. Mental health issues, such as low self-esteem, bedroom-related anxiety, and depression, can negatively impact erectile function. And BTW, some medications used to treat mental health conditions, like antidepressants, can also lead to ED — particularly SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors)

  • Behavioral factors. ED symptoms can be made worse by habits like smoking cigarettes, drinking too much, and other substance use. This includes what you eat, which could contribute to high cholesterol or weight gain.

  • Serious injuries. Damage to the spinal cord, advanced vascular disease, complications from a penile implant, and other injuries may also cause ejaculation or erection problems.

  • Medications. A number of prescription drugs may also impact men’s health sexually. Medications like alpha blockers and other cardiovascular medications could cause low blood pressure when used incorrectly, as can some meds for hair loss and depression.

Depending on which cause (or causes) are affecting you, you can chart a course of treatment with a healthcare professional to potentially reverse ED.

How can erectile dysfunction be reversed? If ED is (literally) getting you down, get medical advice from a healthcare provider — ideally someone who specializes in urology (like a urologist).

They can help you zoom in on what might be causing your issues and suggest appropriate ED treatments

There’s no one-size-fits-all treatment for ED. For some, incorporating healthy lifestyle habits can make all the difference. Others may find that medication offers the best results for improving sexual performance.

Some evidence even suggests that psychological treatment might improve medical treatments. This could make it easier to stick to a treatment plan and — bonus! — enhance the quality of your sexual relationships.

Let’s dig into what treatment options a healthcare provider might suggest in terms of how to reverse ED.

1. Try Erectile Dysfunction Medications 

It’s not quite accurate to say ED medications reverse the condition. But they can help treat the symptoms, making it easier to get hard and stay hard while you address underlying issues.

After all, it takes time for lifestyle changes and medical treatments to make a difference.

Here’s a rundown of the current FDA-approved prescription medications for ED: 

Additionally, a 2018 review of studies suggested that testosterone therapy may be an option for mild ED symptoms that don’t respond to typical ED medications.

2. Start Better Lifestyle Habits

Spoiler alert: Your lifestyle choices can affect your physical health. Okay, not really a spoiler, but you get what we mean. Still, maybe you weren’t aware that habits can impact your ability to get and keep an erection.

Your day-to-day routine — including what you eat and drink — might affect your ability to get it up.

Taking on the following healthy habits may help naturally prevent or limit ED symptoms:

  • Quit smoking. According to a 2014 scientific review, people who smoke are more likely to develop ED than those who don’t, regardless of age and other health conditions. An erection depends on the blood vessels in your penis, and when they’re compromised (a side effect of smoking), it can make getting an erection difficult. See our guide to learn more about the link between smoking and erectile dysfunction.

  • Limit alcohol. Booze can make you more uninhibited, but too much can quickly put the kibosh on your ability to get and stay hard.

  • Get physical. Regular physical activity can improve health markers like blood pressure and increase blood flow to the penis. Our blog goes into detail about how weight and obesity can affect your erection.

  • Eat a healthy diet. A nutritious diet can help manage diabetes and high blood pressure, conditions that can lead to erectile dysfunction. Read our blog to find out what foods help ED.

FYI: While natural remedies like vitamins and supplements can sometimes fill in nutritional gaps, it’s important to talk with a healthcare provider before popping over-the-counter (OTC) pills to ensure they’re safe and avoid potential interactions.

Remember when we mentioned that ED can stem from psychological issues? Chronic stress can impact your body in many ways, your sexual performance included. This can trigger a vicious cycle of stress, anxiety, and ED symptoms. If your ED is stress-related, stress reduction strategies like meditation and exercise might help.

It might also be worth considering your porn-watching habits. Why? Overconsumption of porn has been linked to a reduction in sexual stimulation from real-life sex.

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3. Ask Your Healthcare Provider to Change Medications

You started a new medication, and out of the blue, you’re boudoir performance starts to tank. What’s going on?

It could be that new prescription drug you’re taking. Several drugs can impact your erection abilities, including:

  • Antidepressants

  • Prostate cancer medications

  • Blood pressure medications

  • Prescription sedatives

  • Appetite suppressants

  • Ulcer medications

Never stop taking a prescription medication without first consulting a healthcare professional. Talk with your provider about switching if you notice a dip in sexual performance with a new med.

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4. Get Mental Health Support 

If the root of your ED is psychological, talking to a mental health professional online or in person might help.

Your ED might have psychological roots if you have:

  • Anxiety

  • Depression

  • Fear of being bad in bed

  • Stress around sex or sexual performance

  • Guilt surrounding sex

  • Self-esteem issues

According to one 2022 review, men under 40 are more likely to have ED stemming from a psychological cause than a physical one. 

Talking it out with a qualified sex therapist can help you address any underlying emotional issues that might be messing with your sexual function. They can teach you coping strategies for sex anxiety and may even suggest couples therapy.

It also doesn’t hurt to get a physical check-up to make sure your symptoms aren’t the first sign of a serious underlying health issue.

5. Address Health Conditions 

Lifestyle changes can help with ED symptoms. But it’s also important to treat any underlying health issues — like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease — that may be contributing to ED.

A study published in the Journal of Circulation followed roughly 2,000 male participants with no history of heart disease or stroke. It suggested that ED might be the first sign of heart disease in some people. About half the study’s participants reported ED symptoms.

After following participants for four years, researchers found that those with ED had double the number of stroke or cardiac events compared to those showing no ED symptoms.

ED can also result from neurological causes that affect your nervous system, leading to nerve damage and impacting the body’s ability to send signals to your penis. Treating neurological conditions may help improve ED symptoms, but ED medications can help in cases where it’s not possible to reverse the disease course.

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Treating high blood pressure may help with ED symptoms, but you can’t lower your blood pressure overnight.

That’s where PDE5 inhibitors — ED medications like sildenafil (generic Viagra) — come in. These meds work by blocking the phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5) enzyme, which controls blood flow.

This mechanism increases blood flow and improves erectile function. What’s more, ED is a side effect of commonly prescribed blood pressure drugs, so switching meds may help.

Whether you opt for medical treatments or lifestyle changes, targeting the underlying causes of erectile dysfunction is your best bet for nixing ED for good.

Can erectile dysfunction be reversed? Sometimes, with the right approach.

Here’s what to keep in mind:

  • How can you reverse erectile dysfunction? The best treatment for ED depends on the root cause — and sometimes, more than one factor might be impacting your ability to achieve or keep an erection.

  • In some cases, treatment can totally reverse ED. Making lifestyle changes, switching medications, or seeking help from a mental health professional may help.

  • But it’s still possible for symptoms to stick around and continue impacting your sex life.

  • The silver lining is that ED is highly treatable, and there are plenty of treatment options available.

Ready to get help? ED medications like sildenafil and tadalafil can help boost your sexual health and provide relief. Get a prescription online.

21 Sources

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  2. American Heart Association. (2023). Getting active to control high blood pressure. https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/high-blood-pressure/changes-you-can-make-to-manage-high-blood-pressure/getting-active-to-control-high-blood-pressure
  3. Childs E, et al. (2014). Regular exercise is associated with emotional resilience to acute stress in healthy adults. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4013452/
  4. Ciaccio V, et al. (2022). Psychological factors related to impotence as a sexual dysfunction in young men: A literature scan for noteworthy research frameworks. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9326597/
  5. Dewitte M, et al. (2021). A psychosocial approach to erectile dysfunction: Position statements from the European Society of Sexual Medicine (ESSM). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8766276/
  6. Dwulit AD, et al. (2019). The potential associations of pornography use with sexual dysfunctions: An integrative literature review of observational studies. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6679165/
  7. Hedon F. (2003). Anxiety and erectile dysfunction: A global approach to ED enhances results and quality of life. https://www.nature.com/articles/3900994
  8. Higgins A, et al. (2010). Antidepressant-associated sexual dysfunction: Impact, effects, and treatment. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3108697/
  9. Huang SA, et al. (2013). Phosphodiesterase-5 (PDE5) Inhibitors In the Management of Erectile Dysfunction. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3776492/
  10. Kovac JR, et al. (2015). Effects of cigarette smoking on erectile dysfunction. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4485976/
  11. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease (NIDDK). (2017). Definition & facts for erectile dysfunction. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/urologic-diseases/erectile-dysfunction/definition-facts
  12. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease (NIDDK). (2017). Symptoms & causes of erectile dysfunction. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/urologic-diseases/erectile-dysfunction/symptoms-causes
  13. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease (NIDDK). (2017). Preventing erectile dysfunction. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/urologic-diseases/erectile-dysfunction/prevention
  14. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease (NIDDK). (2017). Treatment for erectile dysfunction. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/urologic-diseases/erectile-dysfunction/treatment
  15. Nunes KP, et al. (2012). New insights into hypertension-associated erectile dysfunction. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4004343/
  16. Rastrelli G, et al. (2020). Both comorbidity burden and low testosterone can explain symptoms and signs of testosterone deficiency in men consulting for sexual dysfunction. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7275801/
  17. Rizk PJ, et al. (2017). Testosterone therapy improves erectile function and libido in hypogonadal men. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5649360/
  18. Thomas C, et al. (2021). Neurogenic erectile dysfunction. Where do we stand? https://www.mdpi.com/2305-6320/8/1/3
  19. Uddin SM, et al. (2018). Erectile dysfunction as an independent predictor of future cardiovascular events. https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.118.033990
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Editorial Standards

Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references. See a mistake? Let us know at [email protected]!

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Learn more about our editorial standards here.

Kelly Brown MD, MBA
Kelly Brown MD, MBA

Dr. Kelly Brown is a board certified Urologist and fellowship trained in Andrology. She is an accomplished men’s health expert with a robust background in healthcare innovation, clinical medicine, and academic research. Dr. Brown was previously Medical Director of a male fertility startup where she lead strategy and design of their digital health platform, an innovative education and telehealth model for delivering expert male fertility care.

She completed her undergraduate studies at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (go Heels!) with a Bachelor of Science in Radiologic Science and a Minor in Chemistry. She took a position at University of California Los Angeles as a radiologic technologist in the department of Interventional Cardiology, further solidifying her passion for medicine. She also pursued the unique opportunity to lead departmental design and operational development at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, sparking her passion for the business of healthcare.

Dr. Brown then went on to obtain her doctorate in medicine from the prestigious Northwestern University - Feinberg School of Medicine and Masters in Business Administration from Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management, with a concentration in Healthcare Management. During her surgical residency in Urology at University of California San Francisco, she utilized her research year to focus on innovations in telemedicine and then served as chief resident with significant contributions to clinical quality improvement. Dr. Brown then completed her Andrology Fellowship at Medical College of Wisconsin, furthering her expertise in male fertility, microsurgery, and sexual function.

Her dedication to caring for patients with compassion, understanding, as well as a unique ability to make guys instantly comfortable discussing anything from sex to sperm makes her a renowned clinician. In addition, her passion for innovation in healthcare combined with her business acumen makes her a formidable leader in the field of men’s health.

Dr. Brown is an avid adventurer; summiting Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania (twice!) and hiking the incredible Torres del Paine Trek in Patagonia, Chile. She deeply appreciates new challenges and diverse cultures on her travels. She lives in Denver with her husband, two children, and beloved Bernese Mountain Dog. You can find Dr. Brown on LinkedIn for more information.

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