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.

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But recently, slick, millennial-chic ads started popping up on social media from new men’s brands like Roman and Hims. Even though the (young) founders of these companies say they aren’t trying to market ED meds to your Tinder dates or male partners, clearly they are looping 20- and 30something guys into the deflated-D narrative for the first time ever.
"This triggers the release of a neurotransmitter called dopamine, and it sends a chemical message from the brain to the penis, causing an increase of blood flow to the penis. The blood vessels leading to the reproductive system then relax and this allows increased circulation in the genital area. When you aren't aroused, the blood vessels in your penis are only partially open. But when your brain sends messages to your penis that you are ready for sex, the vessels open and allow more blood to enter the area. Because of the increased blood flow, blood gets trapped in the penis, which makes the penis expand and causes an erection."
If your erections are really strong, fantastic. Regular erections—including daily morning erections—are an important measure of a man’s health. If you get strong, frequent erections, that’s great! There’s no need to be concerned about being “too hard” as your body only has so much blood to offer. However, an erection that lasts too long (generally more than two hours) can be dangerous as priapism (erections lasting longer than 2 hours) can cause tissue damage. If you’ve had an erection lasting longer than four hours contact a doctor or emergency care immediately.

The production factory of your semen is on an industrial scale, constructed from multiple locations in your genitourinary system. First there are the stars of the show, your spermatozoa, which are naturally synthesised in the seminiferous tubules within your testicles. During the ejaculation process, these then pass through your ejaculatory ducts and blend with fluids from your prostate, seminal vesicles and bulbourethral glands. This melting pot forms your semen as it arrives via urethral meatus (the end of your penis) to the cold light of day – or night.


Gray-haired men soaking in Jacuzzis overlooking canyons, thumbing through the morning newspaper in their thick reading glasses, cuddling their wives on gently swaying hammocks while drinking sensible glasses of cabernet...the classic erectile-dysfunction commercials of the past 20 years were pretty clear about who they wanted to reach. Ever since, those iconic images have defined who we as a society assume are in need of penis pills: men of retirement age. 

Assuming an absence of any significant spinal damage or hormonal disorders, the potential barriers are in fact different at stage one and two. At stage one, anything that causes impairment in your psychological ability to become stimulated will hamper an activation of your nervous system. At stage two, anything that contributes to a narrowing of blood vessels will hamper the engorgement of your erection.
Though few things are worse for your erection than a cigarette habit, coffee can actually help you out below the belt. A study by the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston found that men who consumed the caffeine equivalent of 2-3 cups of coffee per day were less likely to suffer from erectile dysfunction than those who preferred to wake up with caffeine-free beverages.

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"Erectile dysfunction medication interferes with the process that allows blood to leave the penis," adds Reitano. "Men with erectile dysfunction would benefit from having the chemicals leading to the erection outweigh the actions of the chemicals that cause the penis to lose its firmness, to have the systems that cause the inflow outweigh the chemicals that cause the outflow."
Men with a healthy lifestyle and no chronic disease had the lowest risk for erectile dysfunction; the greatest difference was seen for men aged 65-79. For instance, men who exercised at least three hours per week had a 30% lower risk for ED than those who exercised little. Obesity, smoking, and excessive TV watching were also associated with having a greater risk of erectile dysfunction.
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.
As it turns out, there are actually tons of things that can keep guys from getting an erection that have nothing to do with you (also, all that stuff you learned in middle school about how all guys are hump-crazed sex lunatics might have been slightly off). Between 20 and 30 million American men experience recurring erection difficulties, and almost all men have, at one time or another, had their top ramen refuse to boil. And while erectile issues are often seen as an older man's problem, in reality, one quarter of men seeking medical treatment for erectile difficulties are under 40.
And be aware that the vast majority of physical or psychological causes of erectile dysfunction are temporary. They may go away as quickly as they occurred. But if anything is bothering you or your partner, you should seek out confidential, professional advice. There is no point in worrying and not doing anything about it. It may just make the situation worse.

The second tip is to breathe deeply, the whole time you’re having sex, but especially once you start to feel like you’re going to ejaculate or lose your erection for some reason. Deep breathing sends oxygen and energy to where it’s needed most, and it’s known for intensifying sex. What’s more important, though, is that it helps you get control over your body.


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."
Achieving an erection is a complex process involving the brain, hormones, nerves, muscles and blood circulation. If something interferes with this process, the result may be erectile dysfunction. In some cases, erectile dysfunction is the first sign of other serious underlying health conditions, such as cardiovascular problems, that need treatment because erectile dysfunction can share the same risk factors for heart attacks and strokes.
Men with a healthy lifestyle and no chronic disease had the lowest risk for erectile dysfunction; the greatest difference was seen for men aged 65-79. For instance, men who exercised at least three hours per week had a 30% lower risk for ED than those who exercised little. Obesity, smoking, and excessive TV watching were also associated with having a greater risk of erectile dysfunction.
Cigarette smoking is a risk factor for ED, according to the 2014 Report of the U.S. Surgeon General. Excess weight can also contribute to erectile dysfunction. A 2004 Italian study found that one-third of their 110 obese study subjects were able to eliminate their erectile dysfunction problems by losing fifteen percent of their weight through diet and exercise.
Depending on the age of the man, the reason why he is experiencing deficiencies in maintaining an erection will be due to a cause or another. Among young men, it is often due to psychological factors, either due to the size of the penis, past experiences, depression, undervaluation or other reasons, but can be summarized as: fear of sexually disappointing the couple.

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?

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