As guys, there tends to be tonnes of pressure on us to perform. Penis anxiety is a real thing, and once you get past the idea of size, there’s still the fear of not being able to get an erection or stay hard. Getting and maintaining an erection is an essential part of a healthy sex life, but unfortunately it’s not always as simple as it seems.
Every year, millions of men in the United States are faced with some form of erectile dysfunction (ED) that prevents them from enjoying a normal sex life. In fact, its estimated that about 70% of men will be affected by ED at some point in their life. It’s also not just limited to older men – about 40% of experience some form of ED before the age of forty.
So what’s the problem? Why is it that so many guys can’t get hard and stay hard? The good news is that you’re not alone, and there are definitely some measures you can take to make sure you can get an erection faster and stay harder longer.
Below, we’ve listed the most-effective, science-backed ways to help you get and maintain an erection so that you don’t have to worry about your performance. We may not be able to coach you on how you can show the person an awesome time (we probably can with some tips that we’ll drop in the future), but we can definitely get you in tip top shape to give it your all!
ED Tip #1: Stop Watching too Much Porn
This one is first on the list because it’s by far the biggest thing you need to get a handle on. Medical issues aside, nothing will kill your ability to get an erection than watching too much porn. I’ll say it again. Stop. Watching. Too. Much. Porn.
If you go back to the 1970s, you might be hard pressed to find young guys that can’t get hard. But because of how accessible porn is today, young people are finding it harder and harder (no pun intended) to have healthy sex lives. But it doesn’t just apply to the younger generation – all guys can suffer from porn-induced erectile dysfunction.
A study out of the Journal of the American Medical Association found that porn consumption can alter areas in your brain important in reward sensitivity . This can influence your performance in the bedroom and reduce your brain’s sensitivity to sexual stimulation. Essentially, you get “used to it” and sex doesn’t really excite you as much as it naturally should, making it more difficult to get and maintain erections.
Another study noted that watching porn is also linked with “lower erectile function” and “lower sexual satisfaction”. Again, watching too much porn can decrease your sensitivity to sex and even make it harder to get and stay hard.
Think of it like this. You love red velvet cake, but you don’t always it eat. Sometimes you have it every few months on a special occasion with a special friend. Sometimes you buy yourself one and have a little bit every day. But you never really have it multiple times a day, every single day.
Now suddenly, someone gifts you a year supply of a custom made, incredibly delicious red velvet cake delivered right to your door. After eating a lot of that special-made red velvet cake for a few weeks, someone offers you a piece of regular cake at work, but you’ve had so much of that awesome cake that you don’t even want it anymore.
The red velvet cake is sex. You don’t want it because you’ve had so much of it. Just like eating too much of it can curb your appetite for it, too much porn can desensitize your brain and curb your desire for sex. That means less sexual stimulation and it’ll be harder to get an erection.
Our suggestion? Limit the porn. You don’t need to go cold turkey, but you should definitely be conscious of your watching habits. Personally, I’ve found that I’m more likely to watch it when I’m not busy. Keep yourself busy with work, social activities or personal hobbies (exercise, video games etc.) and you’ll think less about pornography.
ED Tip #2: Quit Smoking
Few habits are as awful as smoking when it comes to your health, but people still do it nonetheless. No judgements here – we all have things we do that may not necessarily be the best for us, but we do them anyways.
But along with all the cardiovascular and respiratory issues that come with smoking, cigarettes can also kill your erections.
The nicotine in cigarettes causes temporary narrowing of your blood vessels (AKA vasoconstriction) and decreases the amount of blood and oxygen that reaches your member, meaning less of that soft tissue gets filled with blood and a weaker erection as a result.
A study published in the Journal of Sex Medicine looked at the effects of nicotine on sexual arousal in a randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled trial – basically the most rigorous standards of scientific research. They took twenty-eight sexually functional heterosexual men and broke them off into 2 groups.
- Nicotine treatment – participants were given 6mg of Nicorette polacrilex gum (equivalent to about 1 cigarette)
- Placebo treatment – participants were given regular gum that looked and tasted identical to the Nicorette gum
The men were given the gum about 40 minutes before watching porn. The results? The nicotine group had “significantly reduced erectile responses to the erotic films”. Overall, there was about a 23% reduction in sexual arousal.
Point being, drop the smoking habit or at least try to avoid smoking few hours before a sexual encounter.
ED Tip #3: Reduce Stress
Stress is closely linked with ED.
In a UK survey, adults listed stress as one of the biggest factors negatively impacting their sex lives.
Along with the science, stress can also just kill the mood. I don’t know about you, but when I’m stressed out sex is usually the last thing on my mind. I would probably have a ridiculously hard time getting and maintaining an erection.
ED Tip #4: Start Exercising Regularly
Erections are all about blood flow. You get excited, blood shoots to your captain and fills the soft tissue, which gets you ready to rock and roll. One awesome way to improve blood flow is to exercise regularly. Along with being great for just about everything, exercise can make your cardiovascular system better at pumping blood to the different parts of your body. When your heart is nice and healthy, so are your erections.
In fact, a 2018 meta analysis (big review of scientific studies) found that 40 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise about 4 times a week can reduce ED.
With that in mind, there’s no need to go crazy on the exercise (unless you like it and want to). If you simply want to try to improve your ED, some regular exercise can go a long way.
ED Tip #5: Go Easy on the Alcohol
I probably don’t need to tell you about whiskey dick. Sexual dysfunction is actually really common in heavy drinkers. It doesn’t mean that you should never drink – if you want to have a drink, go ahead. Just don’t drink too much too often.
Here’s a few ways how alcohol can contribute to ED in the short term:
- Nervous system depressant – alcohol can reduce your sensitivity to sexual stimuli, making you less responsive than you’d normally be
- Dehydration – Alcohol dehydrates you. If you’re not replacing the fluid, that can impact your blood flow and, as a result, your erections
In the long term, alcohol can cause some damage to your central nervous system and make it much more difficult to maintain an erection.
All in all, take it easy on the alcohol. Along with generally being bad for your overall health, it can also strongly contribute to your ED.
ED Tip #6: Fix Your Sleep Schedule
People generally talk about diet and exercise when it comes to health, but they forget how important sleep is. Data shows that most people, regardless of country, don’t get the recommended 8 hours of sleep. According to SleepCycle, the top 5 worst countries for average of sleep include:
- Japan= 5 hours and 59 minutes
- Saudi Arabia= 6 hours and 8 minutes
- Sweden= 6 hours and 10 minutes
- India= 6 hours and 20 minutes
- The Philippines= 6 hours and 22 minutes
To compare, the best country for sleep, New Zealand, averages at about 7 hours and 30 minutes – still below the recommended 8.
But how does sleep impact your risk of ED? First, lack of sleep causes stress, which is closely linked with ED (see above). Second, some studies show that it can decrease testosterone production. Testosterone is the “male hormone” that’s important for things like muscle mass, bone density as well as the development and maintenance of your package. Low testosterone is a surefire way to kill your sex drive and complicate getting hard and staying hard.
Our recommendation? Try to get at least seven to nine hours of sleep every night to avoid any sleep-related ED issues. Here are some of our best science-backed tips to improve your sleep quality.
ED Tip #7: Stay on Top of Your Diet
Even though your diet isn’t as important as the other factors we listed above when it comes to ED, it can still be tweaked a little bit to make sure you can get and maintain an erection. High blood pressure is linked to ED in guys – it complicates blood flow and makes it harder to get an erection.
Getting on top of your diet is a great way to lower your blood pressure. We all know too much salt can increase blood pressure, but sometimes salt hides in some of our favorite foods. In general, junk food, deli meats, canned food and sauces are all chock-full of sodium, so we recommend steering clear of those.
On the other hand, veggies, fatty fish and other sources of omega-3 are great to add into your diet to help manage your blood pressure.
Also, if you’re overweight or obese, fixing your diet can help you drop a few pounds and may just take care of your ED issue. Obesity is recognized as one of the biggest risk factors for ED.
In short, lower your sodium intake if you have high blood pressure, add in more greens and good fats and try to lose some weight (if you're obese/overweight) to minimize the chance of ED
Not being able to get and maintain an erection is never fun. As guys, some of us already go through penis anxiety, and not being able to get it up can add onto that. Luckily, you have us in your corner to help out. Try these tips out and get your ED under control so you can stop worrying and….start performing!😉