Erectile DysfunctionExercise

Trivial complementary recommendations to manage erectile dysfunction

An article in a recent issue of AARP The Magazine (and online) makes trivial and misleading recommendations for treating impotence (aka: erectile dysfunction [ED]).

  • Do the dishes: Helping with housework makes men more sexier
  • Break a sweat: 20 minutes of exercise
  • Banish TV: More sex in bedrooms that don’t have a TV
  • Snuggle up: To release oxytocin, the love hormone
  • Feed your sweetie: The smell of sugary foods stimulates sexy feelings

Allow me to provide balance to these recommendations.

The prevalence of ED increases dramatically with advancing age: from about 8% in men between 40 and 49 years to 77.5% of men 75 years and older. Those with ED are afflicted with a vascular/enzyme-related condition. It has nothing to do with doing the dishes. The basic physiology is discussed here.

Yes, snuggling is a way to show affection and should be encouraged between partners of all ages, but it doesn’t correct the underlying pathophysiology. Furthermore, exercise is associated with lowering the risk of ED, but not correcting the existing condition.

Yes, there are data supporting more intercourse in bedrooms without a TV, but this was in Italians, and I am not aware that these studies were conducted in men with ED.

I won’t bother to comment on the recommendation to do the dishes; but the idea that smelling (which will lead to eating) sugary foods is the most egregious recommendation. The fact is that obesity ? as well as hypertension, smoking, and diabetes mellitus ? are significantly associated with ED risk. It is really unhelpful to suggest a role for sugary foods when obesity is a predisposing factor to ED.

AARP members need sound recommendations that complement their ongoing medical care. Maybe in next month’s issue.

7/2/06 11:03 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.