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Can Erectile Dysfunction (ED) Be Reversed?

Kristin Hall, FNP

Reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP

Written by Steph Coelho

Published 01/08/2021

Updated 09/01/2023

If you’re having trouble with sexual performance, you may be wondering, Can ED be reversed?

We’re not kidding when we say a lot of people can relate to having erectile dysfunction (ED). In 2012, it affected about 30 million men in the United States alone, according to one review.

That’s about the population of Nepal. 

And while it’s true that older folks are more likely to have ED, the condition doesn’t discriminate. Adult men of all ages and backgrounds can run into erection issues.

Bottom line: You’re not alone. But that doesn’t mean your erection troubles are trivial. 

Psychological issues, underlying health problems and even injuries can all affect your ability to get and maintain an erection. This can really put a damper on your time between the sheets while impacting your self-esteem, relationships and overall well-being.

Breathe in, breathe out, and relax your shoulders. Treatment is available for this common men’s health issue.

Below, we’ll dive into whether ED is reversible and cover your treatment options. This includes everything from medications to lifestyle habits that can help your little (or big!) guy stand at attention, like getting mental health support or addressing underlying conditions contributing to your erection problems.

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Before we get into the nitty-gritty of this question, let’s just cover this up top: ED is absolutely treatable. But getting treatment sooner rather than later is critical.

Whether it’s completely reversible depends on what’s causing your symptoms down there.

If you’re struggling to get it up because of a new medication, switching drugs may help fix your temporary ED issues. But ED resulting from a physical or psychological trauma may be more complicated to treat.

So, what are the causes of ED?

  • 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 treatment for sexual dysfunction.

  • Psychological issues. Mental health concerns like 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.

  • Behavioral stuff. ED symptoms can be made worse by habits like smoking cigarettes, drinking too much and other substance use.

Can ED From High Blood Pressure Be Reversed?

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

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

This mechanism increases blood flow and improves erectile function. Additionally, ED is one of the side effects 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.

Caveat: ED can rear its ugly head (pun intended) even if you make all sorts of positive changes to your health.

How to Reverse Erectile Dysfunction 

If ED is (literally) getting you down, get medical advice from a healthcare provider — ideally someone who specializes in urology. 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, taking steps to incorporate healthy new 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 may improve medical treatments. This might make it easier to stick to a treatment regimen and — bonus! — improve the quality of your sexual relationships.

Let’s dig into what treatment options a healthcare provider might suggest. 

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 take effect. 

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

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

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. And 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 of the effects of smoking on the body, 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. When these blood vessels are 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 your alcohol intake. Booze can make you more uninhibited, but too much can also 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 gaps in nutrition, 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.

And remember when we mentioned that ED can stem from psychological issues? 

Chronic stress can impact your body in many ways, your sexual performance included, triggering 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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Ask Your Healthcare Provider to Change Medications

You started a new medication, and out of the blue, you’re boudoir performance is starting 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 your prescription medication without first consulting a healthcare provider. Talk with a provider about switching if you notice a dip in sexual performance with a new med.

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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.

Address Health Conditions 

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

A racially diverse study published in the Journal of Circulation involving about 2,000 male participants with no history of heart disease or stroke suggests that ED may 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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Can ED Be Reversed? Final Thoughts

The best treatment for your ED depends on the root cause — and sometimes, more than one factor might be impacting your ability to achieve or keep an erection. Making lifestyle changes, switching medications or seeking help from a mental health professional may help.

In some cases, treatment can totally reverse ED. 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

And even if your penis woes have nothing to do with your emotional health, you may find it helpful to talk to someone. Start an online consultation with a mental health provider now.

21 Sources

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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.

Kristin Hall, FNP

Kristin Hall is a board-certified Family Nurse Practitioner with decades of experience in clinical practice and leadership. 

She has an extensive background in Family Medicine as both a front-line healthcare provider and clinical leader through her work as a primary care provider, retail health clinician and as Principal Investigator with the NIH

Certified through the American Nurses Credentialing Center, she brings her expertise in Family Medicine into your home by helping people improve their health and actively participate in their own healthcare. 

Kristin is a St. Louis native and earned her master’s degree in Nursing from St. Louis University, and is also a member of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. You can find Kristin on LinkedIn for more information.

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