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Special Exercise Reduces Impotence

7/19/2006

Don't suffer in silence, thinking there is nothing you can do. ConsumerReportsHealth.org provides information on exercise, diet, and other simple changes you can make to help you overcome the physical and emotional effects of erection problems.

Many men suffering from erectile dysfunction––difficulty achieving and maintaining an erection––can restore their potency by practicing a simple pelvic-muscle exercise, a clinical trial suggests.

In that 2005 study of 55 men, British researchers randomly assigned some of them with persistent erectile dysfunction to make lifestyle changes that may reduce impotence—losing weight, quitting smoking, exercising, drinking less alcohol, and avoiding groin pressure from bicycle seats—and the others to make those same changes plus do daily pelvic-muscle exercises called Kegels. After three months the Kegels group had improved so much that the researchers switched the lifestyle-only volunteers to the exercises. After six months, 40 percent of all the men had regained normal sexual function and another 35 percent had improved significantly. Other research has shown that Kegels can improve urinary incontinence in both men and women.

To perform Kegels, tightly tense the muscles used to interrupt the flow of urine or the passage of gas, without holding your breath or contracting other muscles. The men in the British study squeezed for 5 to 10 seconds, then slowly relaxed, repeating the exercise about 10 times, twice a day, most days of the week. Done correctly, the exercise should cause the testicles to lift slightly and the base of the penis to move in toward the body; check for those movements in a mirror.

Once a physician has ruled out any underlying causes of erectile dysfunction, such as a low testosterone level, high blood pressure, or a drug side effect, it makes sense for most men to try the exercises for a few months before resorting to medical treatment.

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