When something isn't working the way it should be, understanding the science behind what is supposed to be happening is key to pinpointing the problem. As Dr. Josh Axe, D.N.M., C.N.S., D.C., founder of DrAxe.com explains, getting an erection is a full body and mind process. "Erections actually begin in the brain and they're promoted by thoughts related to sex and sexual desires," he says.
Another clue it’s psychological: He starts going soft around the same time your commitment level has shifted. In fact, sudden ED happens so often among newlyweds—there’s the pressure of becoming a married man plus, hi, the expectation of amazing wedding-night sex, says Dr. Trost—it even has a name: honeymoon syndrome. And a study published in the journal Translational Andrology and Urology found that once a guy’s sexual confidence takes a hit, he can get anxious about it happening again, and all that pressure creates a vicious cycle of erection fixation.
Getting hard is also an overwhelmingly mental task. "Yes, men are saddled with the scheduled 'morning boner' and may experience an occasional random erection but by and large an erection needs to be achieved through mental stimulation," says Backe. "If you aren't turned on, your body isn't going to send more blood to the penis — bottom line. So, ultimately, you need a clean and clear mind for healthy and clear erections. Keeping the mind healthy will allow proper mental stimulation to occur at the right time."
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.
How can I improve my erectile dysfunction?
What helps erectile dysfunction naturally?
Don’t panic. That will only make it worse. Erectile dysfunction is common. In younger age groups it is more likely to be a psychogenic issue around performance anxiety (don’t seek to be like a porn star is a top tip). In men between the ages of 40 and 70, it is estimated that 50 per cent will have some degree of erectile dysfunction. In this age group, there may be a more of a physical issue around blood flow. In either case, consult your doctor and they will be able to give you some more advice. An erectile litmus test is, if you are getting nighttime or early morning erections, it is likely a psychological not a physical vascular issue.
1. Staying Busy and Focused. 2. If you want, get help from a specialist. 3. Find a new hobby, or cultivate a skill. 4. Play sports. 5. Eat a healthy diet. Find another outlet for your time and energy. Fill your life with engaging activities. The excitement of doing something different can help replace the urge to masturbate, and you'll have a go-to distraction next time you're tempted.
If you're still experiencing issues with getting an erection after a few weeks, Dr. Axe says it's time to schedule an appointment with your doctor. "Ask about what health issues can be causing erectile dysfunction, such as cardiovascular problems, hormone imbalances or neurological disorders," he suggests. "It's also important to discuss your medications with your doctor, if you are taking any. Some medications can cause issues with blood flow, so your doctor may choose to change or lower those prescriptions."
So there you have it. Three relatively easy lifestyle changes that can improve erectile function. Eat better, exercise more, and keep the drinking to a minimum. Erectile dysfunction can signal a major health problem, so if you’re experiencing ED, get checked out. However, it’s worth looking into your diet and lifestyle before you start taking medication.
"If any of these physiological factors don't work properly, a man can experience weak erections," says Axe. "Problems maintaining an erection can be due to a number of issues, from hormone imbalances, to neurological issues, cardiovascular conditions, stress and issues with your mental health. There is not one clear way to explain erectile dysfunction — it depends on the man and his specific health condition."
It’s important not to take a bout of psychological ED personally. Still, when confronting a suddenly soft penis in the moment, “It’s not you” can be hard to believe. For instance, Erin, 22, tried—really tried—to make sex with Drew* happen. The first time his erection died right before they were about to have sex, she improvised and gave him “really long” oral instead. But the lack of a boner was confusing. “That had never happened to me with a sexual partner, so I was like, ‘Okay, he’s just not into me,’” Erin recalls.