| June 12, 2012

In the past, erectile dysfunction — which affects 20-30 million American men — has been chalked up to factors like anxiety, stress, smoking and bad hygiene.

While Viagra and other pills can offer a solution, there's something else men can do to ensure they perform better in bed: check their habits. 

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"Men might not realize that certain everyday habits can contribute to their risk for erectile dysfunction," says Salvatore Giorgianni, PharmD, science advisor to the Men's Health Network, the oldest and largest men's health advocacy group in the country. According to EverydayHealth, these habits can include everything from biking to forgetting to floss your teeth

Take bikers, for example. A man who bikes for more than three hours a week risks damage to certain nerves. A hard bike seat "can compress the perineum (the area between the anus and scrotum), squeezing off the vital arteries and nerves necessary for normal sexual function."

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Men who forget to floss their teeth increase the bacteria in their gums, and this bacteria can travel through the bloodstream, combine with plaque and clog blood vessels which make getting an erection difficult. 

Another bad habit EverydayHealth suggests men watch out for is eating canned foods. Cans are lined with a material called bisphenol-A (BPA), a chemical that can interfere with your hormone systems and can inhibit male sex hormones.

Disruptive snoring, or sleep apnea, is a red flag too, because it signals that you have low baseline oxygen levels, and these levels are necessary to achieve an erection.

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Men should also be cautious of what medicine they take, as erectile dysfunction can often be a side-effect of many anti-depressants and blood pressure-lowering drugs. Not only that, but serotonin is known to be a sexual inhibitor.

Lastly, if a man has sustained pelvic injuries from severe trauma, e.g., falling from a ladder or a car accident, the damaged nerves and arteries in the urethra will lead to dysfunction. 

If you recognize some of these habits as your own, don't worry! EverydayHealth also offers suggestions, like eating fresh foods, buying BPA-free containers and doing exercises like kegels, yoga and swimming.

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