Can losing weight treat erectile dysfunction?

20th January 2020

Erectile dysfunction is a common ailment of men above the age of 40. Approximately 10% of men aged 40 to 70 suffer complete erectile dysfunction. This is defined as the complete inability to achieve an erection long enough to have sex. Additionally, 35% of men within that age range suffer from ed intermittently. While less common, erectile dysfunction still affects from 5% to 10% of those who are below 40 years of age.

Obesity tied to ED

In the United States, diabetes and obesity are responsible for 8 million diagnoses of erectile dysfunction. Studies have shown that as BMI increases, so do chances of erectile dysfunction.

What is BMI?

BMI stands for "Body Mass Index". It is a person's weight in kilograms, divided by their height in meters squared. BMI doesn't directly measure body fat, and also does not account for age, sex, ethnicity or muscle mass. However, an individual's BMI will raise or lower based on how much body fat they have, and a higher BMI has been tied to increased instances of erectile dysfunction.

Losing weight may reverse erectile dysfunction

In the study referenced above, 110 men who were considered obese went through a program of exercise and a better diet over a period of two years. The men were aged between 33 and 55. After two years, participants lost an average of 33 pounds. Approximately one-third of the participants reported a significant improvement in their ability to achieve an erection.

Obesity is a high risk factor for ED

Four out of five men who have erectile dysfunction have a BMI greater than 25. Men who have a BMI higher than 28.7 have a 30% greater risk for developing erectile dysfunction. That is approximately 210 pounds for a man who is 6'0" tall. Being overweight opens both men and women up to other risks such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes.

Other conditions which raise risk of ED

Men who have high blood pressure, diabetes or pre-diabetes are also at risk of developing erectile dysfunction. Men who heavily consume alcohol or take blood pressure medication are also at a higher risk.

Why does obesity raise the risk of ED?

In a nutshell, being overweight impedes blood flow. Just as alcohol and heart medication can lower blood pressure, resulting in an elevated chance of experiencing ED through less blood circulating to the penis, being overweight constricts blood vessels which has the same effect of limiting blood flow that assists in producing an erection.

Obesity may harm blood vessels

Healthy young people who put on as little as 9 pounds of fat in the abdomen are at risk of developing endothelial cell dysfunction. These cells line blood vessels and control the ability of the vessels to expand or contract. This condition is associated with an increased risk of coronary artery disease and other cardiovascular issues.

Among those who gained weight in their abdomens (known as visceral fat), even though their blood pressure remained healthy, researchers found that the regulation of blood flow through their arm arteries was impaired due to endothelial dysfunction. Once the volunteers lost the weight, the blood flow recovered.

Can ED be reversed without medication?

A study that followed 810 men who experienced some form of erectile dysfunction were able to reverse the condition. Over a five year period, 29% of men were able to reverse erectile dysfunction through natural means. The study also determined that, even in cases where men required ed medication, that addressing lifestyle factors made the medication more effective.

The lead author of the paper, Dr. Sean Martin from the University of Adelaide's Freemasons Foundation Centre for Men's Health, says: "Even when medication to help with erectile function is required, it is likely to be considerably more effective if lifestyle factors are also addressed.

Medication to control obesity

If you are overweight and believe that this is contributing to problems with erectile dysfunction, ask your doctor about Orlistat. Orlistat, also known by the brand names Alli or Xenical, contributes to losing weight by blocking the absorption of fat in your digestion tract. Orlistat can help people lose more weight, quicker, than with diet and exercise alone.

Medication to help with ED

There are a number of popular medications to help with erectile dysfunction. If you are overweight and need assistance getting an erection before you have lost weight, you can buy sildenafil or other popular ED medications such as Cialis or Levitra.


If you are overweight and experiencing erectile dysfunction, losing the extra weight may reverse ED. In addition, even if your ED is not fully cured, losing weight can make ED pills more effective. See your doctor today to work out a solution for treating your obesity and/or erectile dysfunction conditions.