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Physical Therapy for ED: Can Physical Exercise Treat Erectile Dysfunction?

Physical Therapy for ED Can Physical Exercise Treat Erectile Dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a prevalent condition that disproportionately affects older men, whose bodies struggle to maintain a muscular physique and youthful vigor.

While erectile dysfunction therapy is a recommended and viable ED treatment plan, some patients choose to integrate physical exercise to complement their medical treatments.

Physical exercise has always been deemed as an activity with many benefits. Not only does it make the body leaner, but it also comes with the added benefit of fighting off the acceleration of health conditions such as atherosclerosis and high blood pressure.

Despite its clear benefits, it’s not immediately clear how physical therapy can be used to treat ED. After all, how can working various muscle groups possibly affect a man’s erectile function?

Here, we will explore the connection between physical therapy and ED, enumerate the types of ED-friendly exercises, and lay out ways to further supplement any case of erectile problems.

How Does an Erection Occur?

Achieving an erection does not only occur in the penis—it requires the collaborative effort of various bodily functions.

When you’re aroused, the brain transmits signals to the nerve endings instructing the corpora cavernosa or erectile muscles to relax. This relaxation then allows the blood vessels in the penis to dilate and fill with blood.

As more blood enters the erectile chambers, more pressure begins to form and the penis will expand, resulting in an erection. Blood gets trapped by the tunica albuginea to prevent the outflow of blood during sexual stimulation.

If there are any disturbances in this chain of events, both from a physical or psychological perspective, ED intimately follows.

The Connection Between Physical Therapy and ED

Patients with erectile dysfunction are often recommended by physical therapists to undergo pelvic floor physical therapy to help treat their persistent erectile problems.

The pelvic floor refers to a group of muscles located in the lower part of the pelvis, which is responsible for supporting vital organs such as the bladder and rectum.

While this treatment is often prescribed for people with constipation and urinary problems, patients with ED can use pelvic floor exercises to engage their ischiocavernosus muscle, a muscle that’s responsible for maintaining penile rigidity.

Physical exercise is often recommended for ED patients because the pelvic floor muscles have been linked to improved erectile function. A pelvic floor that’s too tight can restrict the inflow and outflow of blood to the penis, causing an inability to sustain erections.

Furthermore, undergoing physical therapy grants patients access to a consistent and proper training plan. It’ll also entail various medical assessments to determine the root cause of their ED, making it easier for physical therapists to create a tailored plan for optimal results.

3 Types of ED-Friendly Exercises

ED patients are often prescribed Kegel exercises (or pelvic floor exercises) to improve their erectile function. However, there are a few more exercises that can be done to further supplement the effects of intensified pelvic floor activity.

Let’s take a look at some of the most effective techniques:

Kegel Exercises

Kegel exercises have been praised as the ideal way to improve urinary incontinence and erectile performance.

This type of exercise can be performed in any setting and can be done in any position, whether you’re sitting, standing, or laying down.

Patients will have to simply identify their pelvic muscles and practice contracting them for 3 seconds at a time, then releasing the muscle gradually. The pelvic floor muscles can be felt by holding your urine midstream. Try to avoid flexing your other muscles such as the core and thighs.

That said, even when done optimally, pelvic floor exercises don’t immediately guarantee results. It may take a month or two before the patient can experience positive outcomes.

Aerobic Exercises

ED friendly exercises kegels aerobic pilates

According to a recent study, moderate to vigorous aerobic exercise has been proven to be effective in restoring erectile function in men.

Aerobic exercises such as running, cycling, swimming, and brisk walking increase blood flow to the pelvic region. It also comes with added benefits such as a stamina boost and reduced body fat.

If you’re just starting, it’s best to take it slow and build up your resistance over time with programs like the C25K running program. However, the ideal frequency of aerobic exercises is 4 times a week, 40 minutes for each session.

Pilates Exercises

Pilates is another great way to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, particularly during motion. Here are some top pilates exercises you can try to treat ED:

  • Knee fallout: Lay on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the ground. Activate your pelvic floor muscles and carefully bring one of your knees downwards towards the ground. Bring the knee to the center and repeat with the other knee 10 times on each side.
  • Pelvic curl: Lay on your back with your knees bent and feet on the ground. Gradually curl your pelvis up to create an arch in your lower spine. Squeeze your buttocks and allow your body’s weight to rest on your shoulders. Slowly lower and repeat the process 10 times.
  • Supine foot raises: Lie down with your legs straight and feet flat on the floor. Activate your pelvic floor muscles and lift one of your feet towards the ceiling. Keep your foot flexed and slowly lower it. Repeat the same with the other foot 10 times on each side.

Alternative Treatments for Erectile Dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction is a multifactorial condition, and while exercise can certainly help, it’s not the only way to improve it.

There are several other treatments available, such as:

To know what’s right for you, talk with a medical professional to weigh your options.

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