Is Erectile Dysfunction Reversible?

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Older man in bed

Any man battling erectile dysfunction (ED) knows just how frustrating the condition can be. In addition to the physical effects, not being able to perform sexually can affect you mentally and emotionally. It can affect the quality of your sex life, your relationship with your partner or spouse, and even your self-esteem.

Several treatments exist to help men manage ED, including pills and devices to create an erection. For some men, ED can be reversed to the point where it no longer affects them. Whether this is possible for you depends on what's causing your ED, and how well that underlying cause can be treated.

Causes of ED

Often, a separate medical condition contributes to developing ED. For instance, high blood sugar from diabetes can cause blood flow problems throughout your body, including to the penis. That, in turn, can lead to ED. High blood pressure also can cause problems getting an erection, along with circulatory problems like hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis). Also, some medications can cause ED as a side effect.

Sometimes the cause of ED is mental or emotional. Stress, anxiety, depression, fatigue and substance abuse can all lead to erectile dysfunction. Problems in your marriage or relationship can cause ED, too.

Reversing ED

When an underlying condition is the cause, treating that condition may lead to reversing ED as well. Treating diabetes means getting blood sugar under control through a healthy diet, exercise and medication. By doing that, you may find your ED problems improve at the same time.

Treating circulatory problems like high blood pressure and atherosclerosis often involves medication or surgery, if needed. That treatment may correct ED along with the primary disease.

If you're on a medication that's causing ED as a side effect, your doctor might be able to switch you to a different drug. Not using illicit drugs, tobacco and alcohol can also help improve issues with erectile dysfunction.

If depression, stress, anxiety or a relationship issue is at the root of your ED, therapy and counseling can help. For relationship issues in particular, consider marriage or couples counseling. This therapy lets both partners address the root emotional issues, as well as explore new ways to show each other affection or please one another.

If ED continues, talk to your doctor about surgeries that may reverse ED. Some options correct blocked blood vessels leading to the penis. Others involve implants that help you get and maintain an erection. By working together with your provider (and your sexual partner), you can find a treatment combination that’s right for you.

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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2021 Jan 21
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.

  1. What Is Erectile Dysfunction? Urology Care Foundation, 2016.

  2. Erectile Dysfunction. American Academy of Family Physicians, 2016.

  3. What Causes ED? Urology Care Foundation, 2016.

  4. How Is ED Treated? Urology Care Foundation, 2016.