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Can Too Much Exercise Cause Erectile Dysfunction?

Mike Bohl, MD, MPH, ALM

Reviewed by Mike Bohl, MD

Written by Geoffrey C. Whittaker

Published 06/25/2022

Updated 01/14/2024

Whether you have high blood pressure, an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, or just want to make time for some weight loss in your schedule, hitting the gym can be a great way to improve your health. But what happens when you overdo it? Can too much exercise cause health conditions or affect sexual function?

If you’re worried that too much lifting may result in problems with “lifting off” in the bedroom, you can — for the most part — rest easy. While intense exercise could potentially be related to sexual health issues, exercise — in general — is typically associated with improved health (including having a positive impact on risk factors related to ED, like obesity).

Below, we’ll explain what relationship exercise has with ED, how too much of it could affect your performance, and what to do if your erectile health is the one in need of a visit to the gym.

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The relationship between erectile function and exercise has been well demonstrated medically. But it’s mostly the opposite of what you’re worried about: : Many studies have shown that sufficient exercise decreases erectile issues in men with ED.

In the big picture, physical fitness (especially cardio) is deeply linked to the ability to function sexually. Men’s health equals sexual health, fellas. 

Bad lifestyle choices, a sedentary lifestyle or a poor diet can lead to obesity and cardiovascular disease. Both conditions are risk factors for ED, so a lack of exercise could elevate ED risk.

The good news is that, along with a balanced diet, regular exercise can keep these problems away (and keep your risk of ED lower as well). But make all the wrong choices, and erectile dysfunction might find you, along with other health issues.

A healthy lifestyle (no smoking, moderate alcohol consumption, healthy eating, and the like) is considered the best DIY method for ED prevention. It can also help prevent heart disease, obesity, hypertension, diabetes and various other health problems.

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Exercising to the point you faint, collapse or suffer serious injury  is unhealthy to begin with and will definitely put a damper on your sexual activity prospects in the short term.

Additionally, freak accidents can happen. Limited evidence suggests that nervous system injuries from weightlifting or biking could impact sexual function.

Research has also looked into the impact of exercise on male sex drive. One study found that regular, higher levels of chronic intense exercise and regular, greater duration of endurance training were associated with a lower sex drive in men. So can too much exercise cause erectile dysfunction? There isn’t necessarily a direct causal link, but it’s possible that overly intense physical activity could be related to sexual interest or performance.

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Cutting back on exercise for ED is only something you should do if you’ve taken it to extremes or harmed yourself.

We would highly suggest, however, that you do the following to stay safe when exercising:

  • Hydrate

  • Don’t exercise while ill

  • Allow injuries to heal

  • Don’t let yourself overheat

Oh, and fun fact: Overheating can lead to dizziness, nausea, heart palpitations and fainting, which could definitely keep you from performing sexually. Not-so-fun fact: It could also do long-term damage or cause death.

If you’re having erectile function problems, definitely keep eating well and exercising. Physical activity, good sleep habits and keeping stress levels down are great ways to protect your sexual health.

Other things you might consider are medication and mental health support.

Honestly, the psychological causes of ED are pretty pervasive. Guys can experience a loss of sexual desire due to depression, performance anxiety or low self-esteem. Therapy is an excellent way to work through these common fears.

Medication, likewise, is a useful tool for dealing with other ED causes — those related to vascular function.

Most ED medications are a type of drug called phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors, or PDE5 inhibitors. These treat sexual dysfunction by relaxing blood vessels in the penis, ensuring healthy flow to erectile tissues. 

Viagra®, Cialis®, Stendra® and Levitra® are the most popular brands. Roughly 70 percent of men have been shown to benefit from the use of PDE5 inhibitors in studies.

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If you’re dealing with erectile dysfunction, getting help is vital — and to be honest, it’s also a time-sensitive issue.

ED is sometimes the first sign of a serious health issue, like heart disease — so it’s important to talk to a healthcare provider. 

Here’s the big picture:

  • Exercise can help reduce the risk of ED.

  • Adding high-intensity or aerobic exercise is one lifestyle change you should make to help prevent ED and other cardiovascular conditions you don’t want later in life.

  • Intense exercise or overexertion could potentially negatively impact aspects of sexual function or performance.

  • If you’re experiencing ED as a side effect of weightlifting or another form of exercise, talk to a healthcare professional like a urologist to find out what’s going on. Pelvic floor and nerve injuries can sometimes occur.

Treating erectile dysfunction is something a healthcare provider can assist with, so if you have questions, reach out today.

In the meantime, check out our guides for more information on:

If you’re interested in medication, check us out. We offer the same prescription pills as brand names, as well as ED medication in the form of discreet chewable hard mints.

6 Sources

  1. Dhaliwal A, Gupta M. PDE5 Inhibitors. [Updated 2023 Apr 10]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from:
  2. Rastrelli, G., & Maggi, M. (2017). Erectile dysfunction in fit and healthy young men: psychological or pathological?. Translational andrology and urology, 6(1), 79–90.
  3. Riachy, R., McKinney, K., & Tuvdendorj, D. R. (2020). Various Factors May Modulate the Effect of Exercise on Testosterone Levels in Men. Journal of functional morphology and kinesiology, 5(4), 81.
  4. Gerbild, H., Larsen, C. M., Graugaard, C., & Areskoug Josefsson, K. (2018). Physical Activity to Improve Erectile Function: A Systematic Review of Intervention Studies. Sexual medicine, 6(2), 75–89.
  5. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.-e). Treatment for erectile dysfunction - NIDDK. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.
  6. Knowledge, H. P. (2011, April 27). Exercise and erectile dysfunction (ed). Harvard Health.
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.

Mike Bohl, MD

Dr. Mike Bohl is a licensed physician, a Medical Advisor at Hims & Hers, and the Director of Scientific & Medical Content at a stealth biotech startup, where he is involved in pharmaceutical drug development. Prior to joining Hims & Hers, Dr. Bohl spent several years working in digital health, focusing on patient education. He has also worked in medical journalism for The Dr. Oz Show (receiving recognition for contributions from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences when the show won Outstanding Informative Talk Show at the 2016–2017 Daytime Emmy® Awards) and at Sharecare. He is a Medical Expert Board Member at Eat This, Not That! and a Board Member at International Veterinary Outreach.

Dr. Bohl obtained his Bachelor of Arts and Doctor of Medicine from Brown University, his Master of Public Health from Columbia University, and his Master of Liberal Arts in Extension Studies—Journalism from Harvard University. He is currently pursuing a Master of Business Administration and Master of Science in Healthcare Leadership at Cornell University. Dr. Bohl trained in internal medicine with a focus on community health at NYU Langone Health.

Dr. Bohl is Certified in Public Health by the National Board of Public Health Examiners, Medical Writer Certified by the American Medical Writers Association, a certified Editor in the Life Sciences by the Board of Editors in the Life Sciences, a Certified Personal Trainer and Certified Nutrition Coach by the National Academy of Sports Medicine, and a Board Certified Medical Affairs Specialist by the Accreditation Council for Medical Affairs. He has graduate certificates in Digital Storytelling and Marketing Management & Digital Strategy from Harvard Extension School and certificates in Business Law and Corporate Governance from Cornell Law School.

In addition to his written work, Dr. Bohl has experience creating medical segments for radio and producing patient education videos. He has also spent time conducting orthopedic and biomaterial research at Case Western Reserve University and University Hospitals of Cleveland and practicing clinically as a general practitioner on international medical aid projects with Medical Ministry International.

Dr. Bohl lives in Manhattan and enjoys biking, resistance training, sailing, scuba diving, skiing, tennis, and traveling. You can find Dr. Bohl on LinkedIn for more information.


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  • Gebhart, J. J., Weinberg, D. S., Bohl, M. S., & Liu, R. W. (2016). Relationship between pelvic incidence and osteoarthritis of the hip. Bone & joint research, 5(2), 66–72.

  • Gebhart, J. J., Bohl, M. S., Weinberg, D. S., Cooperman, D. R., & Liu, R. W. (2015). Pelvic Incidence and Acetabular Version in Slipped Capital Femoral Epiphysis. Journal of pediatric orthopedics, 35(6), 565–570.

  • Islam, A., Bohl, M. S., Tsai, A. G., Younesi, M., Gillespie, R., & Akkus, O. (2015). Biomechanical evaluation of a novel suturing scheme for grafting load-bearing collagen scaffolds for rotator cuff repair. Clinical biomechanics (Bristol, Avon), 30(7), 669–675.

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