Medically reviewed by Mary Lucas, RN
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 7/29/2020
Erectile dysfunction (ED) can be a major source of frustration for men. Luckily, it’s a treatable one.
From medications like sildenafil (Viagra, generic Viagra) to psychological ED treatments, there are a variety of options for treating the effects of erectile dysfunction and improving your sexual performance.
There’s also an aspect of ED treatment that’s less visible than medication: exercise. Like the body’s other muscle groups, the pelvic floor muscles that surround your penis can be trained and strengthened, potentially improving your sexual performance and erection quality.
In this guide, we’ll look at the most common erectile dysfunction exercises and the effects they can have on your erection quality, sexual performance and overall quality of life. We’ll also look at some of the scientific study data exploring the efficacy of ED exercises for men.
Although there’s less science on the use of exercises than medication for treating ED, there are several studies that look at the effects of pelvic floor exercises for men.
One study from 2005 involved 55 men aged 20 years of age or older, all of whom had suffered from some form of ED for at least six months. The men were split into groups, one of which was instructed to perform pelvic floor exercises and make lifestyle changes; the other, to only make lifestyle changes.
The pelvic floor exercises were taught by a physiotherapist, and men were instructed to perform them on a regular basis over the course of the study.
After three months, the men treated with a combination of pelvic floor exercises and changes to their lifestyles had a significantly greater rate of recovery than participants in the control group, suggesting that erectile dysfunction exercises could be an effective treatment for ED.
Beyond specific pelvic exercises, any form of aerobic exercise can potentially improve erection quality. One study from 2011 closely links aerobic exercise (such as running, cycling or rowing) with improvements in erection quality and a reduction in ED symptoms for particular types of ED.
In short, erectile dysfunction exercises do work, and exercise in any form is likely to help reduce the negative effects of ED. The more active you are, and the better conditioned your pelvic floor muscles are, the more likely it is you’ll be able to improve your erection quality.
The pelvic muscles are essentially a sling-shaped section of muscles that run between your pubic bone in the front of your body and your tailbone in the back. While most of us associate pelvic floor exercises (also known as “kegel exercises”) with women, men also benefit from training the pelvic floor muscles for extra strength and control.
Although you may not notice it, you use your pelvic floor muscles frequently over the course of the day. When you pee, you relax your pelvic floor muscles, only to clench them as you finish to reduce to stop the flow of urine. The pelvic floor muscles also help to control your bowels.
Exercising the pelvic floor muscles is a relatively simple process. You won’t need any special equipment, nor will you need to train your muscles intensely. For most men, a few minutes of daily pelvic floor exercises can, over the course of several months, help to treat ED.
Begin by emptying your bladder. Since pelvic floor muscle exercises are often used to help treat incontinence in both men and women, it makes sense that the first thing you should do is go to the bathroom.
Identify your pelvic floor muscles. You can do this by tensing your muscles as you would if you were trying to stop yourself from peeing. When you squeeze your pelvic floor muscles, you’ll feel the muscles “lift” into your torso and tighten up your entire pelvic area.
Hold the squeezing motion and count to eight. Once you reach a count of eight, you can relax your pelvic floor muscles. Give yourself an eight-second rest, then repeat the exercise, again counting to eight.
Repeat this process until you’ve squeezed and released the muscles eight to ten times, then take a rest for a minute or two. Some experts recommend repeating this process for three sets of eight to ten motions, with a short break in between each set.
Since pelvic exercises are simple and don’t require any equipment, you can do them while you watch TV, read a book or use the computer. On average, it should only take a few minutes per day to complete a full set of pelvic floor exercises.
The science shows that pelvic floor exercises can have a positive impact on your ability to get and sustain an erection. However, you shouldn’t think of pelvic exercises as a 100% cure for ED.
Erectile dysfunction can occur for a variety of reasons, from physical (high blood pressure, age or hormonal issues) to psychological. Most of the time, pelvic floor exercises can be one part of an effective ED treatment, along with other treatment options such as ED medication.
As well as potentially improving your erection quality, pelvic floor exercises can have a variety of other benefits. Many men report better bladder control after implementing pelvic floor exercises into their daily routine; some even report more intense orgasms.
Since pelvic floor exercises only take a few minutes a day and can easily be done while you’re watching TV or using the computer, there are very few reasons not to add them to your erectile dysfunction prevention routine.
Insider tips, early access and more.