Dear Doctor,

Two of my three college roommates have experienced erectile dysfunction a number of times. It hasn’t struck me yet, but I’m wondering if there is any preventive options to keep in mind?

—Hoping to keep healthy

Dear HTKH,

I encourage you to think about your body as a whole, connected system. Though your college roommates seem quite young to be experiencing physiological erectile dysfunction (i.e. ED that stems from cardiac or diabetic conditions, as well as post prostate cancer), it sounds like they are plagued by socio-cultural ED. Thus, caring for your health, as well as your mental health, is a good game plan.

For basic penis function, ask yourself how can you maintain a healthy lifestyle that facilitates strong, fluid blood flow. Some ways to do this include daily exercise, avoiding smoking, limiting heavy drinking and keeping a good diet. High LDL cholesterol levels can block circulation, including pathways that feed the penis. If you are comfortable adhering to a Boulder non-bioengineered diet — otherwise known as the organic, whole food diet — this will help prevent you from ingesting pesticides, toxic chemicals and hormones. For example, bovine growth hormone, found in non-organic dairy products, carries numerous xenoestrogens. This can be a problem for men because it can interfere with proper testosterone levels.

In addition, operating systemically means having a solid self-care routine to decrease anxiety. This will help optimize your mental health as well. If ED does emerge for psychological and/or relationship reasons, it may require a heart-to-heart with your honey and/or a bit more support from a clinical sex therapist.

To learn more about sex, relationships, and intimacy, visit the Intimacy Institute’s blog.