Erectile dysfunction is about more than just the ability to get an erection (although that’s certainly a big part of it). It’s also about how hard your erections normally get, and if you can get an erection that’s hard enough and lasts long enough to have “satisfactory” sex. ED is really about how you (and your partner) feel about your sex life. And a lot of that has to do with how firm your erections get.
Remember those cultural messages we discussed earlier, about how men are wild sex aliens from the planet Weenus? Well, men are raised hearing those messages, too, and they can end up screwing with their sexual self-image —for instance, they can lead men to obsess over their own virility, and panic about impressing a new partner, until they've thought their boner into a corner and can't get an erection. Performance anxiety is one of the most common culprits behind lost erections, especially among younger, less experienced men.
"It definitely was a blow to my masculinity," Francis told Mic. "It didn't help that my wife at the time would say that I must be gay if I couldn't keep it up for her." Compounding the issue, if an erection doesn't happen during a given sexual encounter, the man can obsess over it, inevitably creating pressure and making it difficult for him to become fully aroused during future encounters.
"This can take some time, but it can help to stop a cycle of too much anxiety, followed by an erectile issue. It also can help you realize where you draw the most physical pleasure. People tend to focus only on the genitals when it comes to sex. However, they can experience pleasure all over their bodies. If they learn how to utilize this, it can be a resource for future arousal, fun and pleasure."
Regular exercise and a diet rich in antioxidants is also the foundation of permanent weight control and diabetes prevention. Studies at the Duke University Diet and Fitness Center show that weight loss is strongly associated with better sexual function. Other studies show that diabetes is a major risk factor for ED, and that a healthy lifestyle prevents the disease and can restore erection function.
Be intimate in new ways. If your sex is focused just on penetration and climax, you may feel under more pressure to quickly get and maintain an erection, which can make this harder to do. Try to find new and more varied ways to be intimate with your partner that are not just about sprinting to the finish line. Take time with each other, such as taking a bath or shower together or massaging each other.
Is erectile dysfunction permanent?
The "Am I Normal?" study examined more than 15,000 men in the UK. The average erect penis was 5.16 inches (13.1cm), while the average flaccid penis was 3.61 inches (9.2cm). But maybe take this with a pinch of salt – the "study limitations" section of the research paper states “relatively few erect measurements were made in a clinical setting and the greatest variability between studies were seen in the flaccid stretched length”. Yes, how hard is too hard to yank for a study?
Research has shown that the same eating patterns that can cause heart attacks due to restricted blood flow in the coronary arteries can also impede blood flow to and within the penis. The blood flow is needed for the penis to become erect. Diets that include very few fruits and vegetables along with lots of fatty, fried, and processed foods can contribute to decreased blood circulation throughout the body.
Now, it may be that all you need to do is tackle some of the issues outlined in these key tools. However, yes, that advice may also come in the form of a small magic blue pill. Sildenafil (Viagra) is a phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitor, designed to promote blood flow to your penis and achieve a sustainable erection. It can sometimes be a short-term option to help you "get back on the horse" or a longer-term method (if there is an irreversible dysfunction) to help you enjoy a healthy intimate relationship.
“Although having sex at 70 is not the same as having sex at 20, erectile dysfunction is not a normal part of aging,” according to Michael Feloney, MD, urologic surgeon and expert on sexual dysfunction issues at the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha. “You should still be able to have a satisfying sex life as you age." If you are experiencing erectile dysfunction, these 10 dos and don'ts may help.