Exercise could be the key to beating erectile dysfunction, new research suggests.
Those who are fit and active have better erectile and sexual function, a growing body of evidence suggests.
Other contributors to low sexual function, include diabetes, older age, past or current smoking, and coronary artery disease.
But how much exercise people do could be crucial.
The authors of the new report say that until now, no one had looked at all the studies together.
Those who are fit and active have better erectile and sexual function, a study has found
Researchers searched for randomised controlled trials testing exercise and physical activity as a therapy for erectile dysfunction.
They found seven studies published between 2004 and 2013 that included a total of 505 men, who were tracked for anywhere from eight weeks to two years.
The average age ranged from 43 to 69 years.
Altogether, 292 men were randomly assigned to complete aerobic exercises, pelvic floor muscle exercises or a combination of exercises.
The other 213 men were not told to exercise.
Scientists then measured erectile function using the International Index of Erectile Function.
Scores range from 5 to 25; men with no erectile dysfunction have scores of 22 to 25, and those with the most severe dysfunction score between 5 and 7.
Exercise can also be used alone or in combination with erectile dysfunction medications, said Dr Landon Trost
Overall, men who exercised had their scores increase by an average of 3.85 points, compared to men who did not exercise.
Exercises specific to pelvic floor muscles didn’t seem to yield a benefit.
Among men with an increased cardiovascular risk, coronary heart disease or prostate removal, however, any type of exercise led to improved erectile function scores.
Dr Landon Trost, who is head of andrology and male infertility at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, said it showed exercise should have a role in the treatment of erectile dysfunction.
The results show that exercise can also be used alone or in combination with erectile dysfunction medications, said Dr Trost, who was not involved with the new analysis.
He said the average increase in erectile function score would likely be similar to what people see with a medication.
The study was published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.