Sexual Wellness

3 Best Exercises for Erectile Dysfunction

Fact Checked

Looking for the best exercises to help with erectile dysfunction? See our guide covering what exercises are best and how to perform them.

Last Updated: 03/23/2022

Written by

Warren Dutton

Medically Reviewed by

Dr. Paul Thompson

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is when a man has difficulty achieving or maintaining an erection during sexual intercourse. While erectile dysfunction is more common amongst older men, it does affect men of all ages. An estimated 1 in 3 men will experience ED in their lifetime.

Another issue that commonly affects men is premature ejaculation. Premature ejaculation is when a man climaxes uncontrollably and quickly during sex. While premature ejaculation is not considered a medication condition or 'impotence,' it may affect self-esteem and could affect sexual function in the future.

Your sexual health could also be an indicator of deeper health issues such as heart disease, psychological issues, diabetes, and other medication conditions.

It could also be that your pelvic floor muscles need to be strengthened. Pelvic floor exercises strengthen the muscles surrounding the genital area and may help restore normal erectile function.

The bulbacavernosus and ischiocavernosus muscles need to be activated for a man to become fully erect. Kegel exercises can help strengthen those muscles, increase blood flow, and may help in treating erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation.

Pelvic floor exercises should be one of the first treatments to implement to improve erectile function and your overall health.

Can exercise cure erectile dysfunction?

If your pelvic floor muscles are weak, Kegel exercises could help with ED. The muscles around the penis that are responsible for proper blood flow and that help maintain an erection may not be working optimally if they're weak.

Performing pelvic floor exercises can strengthen the bulbocavernosus muscle. One of the roles of the bulbocavernosus muscle is to induce pressure on the penile veins and control and maintain blood flow to the penis. Strengthening your pelvic floor muscles may reinvigorate sexual sensation and rev up your sex life again.

Aerobic exercise is also a must for your sexual health. Studies show that physical activity has been shown to improve erectile function for men affected by cardiovascular erectile dysfunction.

Pelvic Floor Exercises for Erectile Dysfunction

Kegel exercises

What are Kegel exercises?

Kegel exercises, also known as pelvic floor exercises, are not just for women, they're for men too.

Pelvic floor exercises help strengthen the family of pelvic floor muscles that support your bladder, bowels, anus, and penis function. Kegel exercises are excellent for combating erectile dysfunction, can be done anytime, and should be a part of your daily routine.

How long does it take to see results?

On average, it takes four to six weeks to begin to see results from Kegel exercises. However, in some cases, if the muscles are extremely weak it could take four to six months.

To forever reap the benefits, it's best to make these exercises a permanent part of your lifestyle to keep your pelvic muscles strong.

The benefits of Kegel exercises

  • Strengthen pelvic floor muscles

  • Heighten sexual sensation and endurance during intimacy

  • May relieve or prevent erectile dysfunction

  • Help recovery after a hysterectomy or prolapse surgery

  • Reduce or relieve back pain

  • Improve bladder control

How to do Kegel exercises

Pelvic floor activation

You need to know where your pelvic floor muscles are to do your Kegel exercises correctly. The best way to do this is by activating pelvic floor muscles, it's simple and also helps improve strength in the pubococcygeus, a hammock-like muscle that forms the pelvic floor and supports your pelvic organs. You can activate your pelvic floor anytime.

Step 1: Contract your penis

To find and activate the pelvic floor muscles, imagine that you're contracting your penis inward towards your body. Try holding the base of your penis while you contract the pelvic floor so you can feel the muscle in action.

Step 2: Activate the anal sphincter

You'll also need to activate the muscles in the anus, these are the same muscles you would utilize to stop passing gas as well. Be careful not to clench the buttocks and isolate the movement only in the anal sphincter, which should tighten and squeeze. If you feel pulling and squeezing in your rectal muscles and around your penis, you're contracting the right muscles for Kegel exercises.

Step 3: "Stopping" your urine

Now, enlisting the movements above, combine those two movements, and add in this third movement: pretend that you are 'stopping' the flow of urine midstream. The muscles you use to stop the flow of urine are the same pelvic floor muscles you'll use to do your Kegel exercises.

This is a good way to find the right muscles to activate. However, you don't actually need to do this while urinating and shouldn't make a habit of it since it could lead to infection. If you stop the flow of urine, do it only as a test sparingly.

Remember, for optimal pelvic floor muscle training to only engage the pelvic floor muscles. Avoid engaging your abdomen, leg muscles, or gluteus muscles.

Practice makes perfect, in no time you'll get comfortable performing Kegel exercises and you'll nail down your technique.

Pelvic floor muscle exercises for erectile dysfunction

Now that you've learned how to activate your pelvic floor muscles, here are some of the best positions to begin implementing these penis exercises.

Here's an example of a beginners routine for Kegel exercises:

  • Contract the pelvic floor muscles

  • Hold for a count of three

  • Release for a count of three

  • Complete 6-12 reps per exercise

  • Do 1-3 exercises, 3 times a day

Kegel exercise positions:

Lying down activation

Lie down on your back with your knees bent, palms face down by your sides, and feet flat. Squeeze the pelvic floor muscles for a count of three, and then release for a count of three.  Repeat.

Seated activation

Sitting with your arms down by your sides, feet flat on the floor, and hip-width apart, use the same technique you've been utilizing to Kegel. Contract the pelvic floor muscles for a count of three, and release for a count of three. Repeat.

Standing activation

Stand up straight with your arms down by your sides and your feet hip-width apart. Repeat the same technique for an exhale of three counts and an inhale release of three counts. Repeat.

How many times a day should I exercise my pelvic floor muscles?

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, it's best to work out your pelvic muscles at least three times a day. You should do pelvic floor activation exercises in the seated, standing, and lying down positions on a daily basis to ensure you're fully strengthening the pelvic muscles.

Implement a schedule and set up a log of your pelvic exercises. You can do these exercises in the morning while you're working from home or driving into work, in the afternoon - standing, and at night, you can do your last set in lying down in bed right before you go to sleep.

It takes time for erectile dysfunction exercises to build up your strength. Be patient and stay consistent with your Kegel exercise routine. The silver lining at the end of the tunnel is that you'll have a healthy sex life and you may lower your risk factors for other health conditions as well.

Pilates exercises for erectile dysfunction

Less strenuous than aerobic exercises, pilates is a low-impact form of physical activity that can do wonders for improving sexual function and certain poses can strengthen your pelvic floor muscles.

Pelvic curl

On a mat, lie down on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat and hip-width apart. Keep the neck and shoulders relaxed and chin pointed down.  Your arms should be relaxed at your sides and your spine and pelvis should be in a neutral position. Inhale, exhale, and contract your abdomen.

Curl your pelvis and spine off of the mat one vertebra at a time. Inhale and hold this position at the top for three to five seconds. As your spine lifts, tilt your pelvis, and imagine you are pulling your pubic bone towards your chin. Exhale and slowly lower your spine back down one vertebra at a time until your bottom is back on the mat. 

Straight leg raises

Leg raises, also known as supine foot raises, also help strengthen your pelvic muscles.

To do this exercise, lie down on your back with your arms by your sides, legs bent, feet flat and hip-distance apart. Straighten one leg down flat on the floor, exhale and contract your pelvic muscles. Slowly begin to lift that leg off the floor with your foot flexed towards you. Inhale and slowly lower your foot down. Switch sides and repeat.

Aerobic exercises for erectile dysfunction

Aerobic exercise is essential for improving erectile dysfunction. It improves blood flow, opens up the blood vessels, and reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Research suggests that 30 to 40 minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic exercise four times a week is best if you want to see results. Regular exercise may reverse erectile dysfunction or prevent it entirely.

Cycling

Low impact, but high intensity, cycling is great for your heart and living a healthier lifestyle. Whether it's a local spin class or riding a bike outdoors, cycling is great for helping you build endurance to maintain an erection during sexual activity.

Running

A high-intensity workout such as running or sprinting is an effective way to lower your risk of developing erectile dysfunction.

According to a study published in the American Journal of Cardiology, there's a link between treadmill endurance and sexual performance.

Walking

If high intensity is too much for you, try going for a brisk walk instead. Taking a 30-minute brisk walk can prove to be sexual medicine and may help eliminate ED. Consider joining a home-based walking program or a local walking club to get to know people in your community.

Other forms of aerobic exercise include boxing, rowing, spin classes, swimming, jogging, and elliptical training.

Diet and lifestyle changes to fight erectile dysfunction

Stop smoking

Men who smoke are twice as likely to develop erectile dysfunction in comparison to nonsmokers. When you quit smoking your blood circulation improves, your blood pressure may drop, and your chance of a heart attack decreases. Lifestyle changes are necessary if you're serious about managing ED.

Eat a healthy diet

Studies have shown a link between ED and a healthy diet. Consider the medically reviewed and ED-friendly Mediterranean diet, a plant-based diet rich in organic greens, whole grains, fish and lean meats, and healthy fats.

When to see a health professional

If you're making active efforts in treating ED but are still struggling to achieve a satisfactory erection, it's best to schedule a visit with a healthcare professional to find out if you have any underlying physical conditions. Your doctor will work with you on a treatment plan.