Erectile dysfunction is an embarrassing health problem that affects not only a man's sex life, but often his self-esteem as well. Many men are shocked to find that they can no longer perform as well as they and their partner expect. The causes of this disorder can be either mental or physical. In both cases, this problem can often be treated or prevented. If you have erectile dysfunction, there is a good chance that one of the following seven lifestyle factors is to blame.

1. Poor Quality Diet

Although most people in the developed world consume plenty of food, they often get less nutrients and vitamins than they need for optimal health. Some vitamin deficiencies unfortunately can lead to erectile dysfunction. This is because blood flow is one of the most important factors in achieving and maintaining erections. There are several nutrients such as L-arginine, zinc, boron, citrulline and niacin that improve blood flow. Not getting enough of these vitamins can affect blood flow and thus affect erections. Certain flavonoid-rich foods have also been shown to help protect against erectile dysfunction.

In addition to vitamins and nutrients, there are also herbs that can help protect against erectile dysfunction by promoting healthy blood flow. For example, ginseng is used in traditional Chinese medicine to promote virility because it opens up blood vessels to promote healthy blood flow to all areas of the body. 

2. Obesity

7 Lifestyle Factors that Increase Erectile Dysfunction Risk 2Over half of Americans are carrying at least a few extra pounds. However, veering into obesity, or a body mass index (BMI) over 30, can have a negative effect on your love life. This is especially true of central obesity, or fat carried around the midsection. Fat carried on the midsection or upper body has more metabolic effects, which means that it can contribute to cardiovascular disease. Erectile dysfunction is one of the earlier signs of cardiovascular disease, often presenting before any other symptoms.

3. Sedentary Lifestyle

Working out and exercising will not just make it easier to attract partners, but make it easier to please them in the bedroom as well. If you do not move your body on a regular basis to exercise, you may lose the ability to exert yourself even when you wish to. Exercise keeps your blood vessels healthy, which leads to lower erectile dysfunction risk. Exercise also lowers the chances that you will develop obesity, heart disease and other health problems that can interfere with your love life.

4. Substance Use and Abuse

There are many substances out there that can interfere with healthy blood flow. For example, tobacco is a major vasoconstrictor, narrowing blood vessels and reducing blood flow. Caffeine also can reduce blood flow to key areas of the body. Alcohol dilates blood vessels initially but can lead to lower blood flow over time. As a result, there is a significant correlation between alcohol abuse and erectile dysfunction. 

Illegal drugs also can increase the risk of erectile dysfunction. For example, stimulants such as cocaine and methamphetamine constrict arteries in a manner similar to nicotine. They also raise the risk of cardiovascular disease, which can put quite a damper on the love life.

5. Poor Oral Hygiene

7 Lifestyle Factors that Increase Erectile Dysfunction RiskBad teeth and poor oral hygiene can keep people from attracting partners. It also can interfere with your love life in other ways. Poor oral hygiene leads to increased gum disease, which has been found to lead to damage to the endothelial lining of blood vessels. If you have erectile dysfunction that you believe may be due to poor dental health, you should be relieved to know that prompt dental care could help treat your bedroom problems as well as your teeth and gums.

6. Stress and Negative Emotion

Many men have noticed that they have problems keeping an erection when they are nervous or unhappy. There is a good biological reason for this. Stress activates the sympathetic nervous system, which can cause constriction of blood vessels. Over time, it can also contribute to heart disease and other conditions that contribute to erectile dysfunction. Ultimately, it is important to trust your partner and feel relaxed around them. If you are stressed, anxious or similarly experiencing negative emotions, you may have some trouble performing. 

7. Cell Phone Use: A Secret Contributor to Erectile Dysfunction Risk?

Most of the aforementioned six causes of erectile dysfunction are not surprising. However, many people will be shocked to hear that their cell phones and other smart gadgets may someday interfere with their ability to keep an erection. Although researchers are unsure of the cause of the connection, men who are on their cell phones more often or who carry them in their pockets are more likely to have trouble achieving or keeping an erection. This may be due to the type of radiation that cell phones emit, or it may be due to something more innocent. At this point, we do not know the cause of the correlation, but there indeed appears to be a link.

Millions of men suffer from erectile dysfunction every year. These lifestyle factors, while not the only reasons for this health problem, may be part of the problem for many. Ultimately, a healthy lifestyle improves one's life in almost every conceivable way.