Pycnogenol is a compound found in the French maritime pine (Pinus pinaster), which grows in southern Canada. Several studies show that in combination with the amino acid L-arginine, it boost synthesis of nitric oxide, which plays a significant role in erection. Other studies show that pycnogenol helps restore wilting erections. In one study, 124 ED sufferers took either a placebo or pycnogenol and L-arginine (four tablets a day, 20 mg pycnogenol, 700 mg L-arginine). After six months, the supplement group showed a modest but significant improvement in erection, without side effects.
The American Medical Association (AMA) estimates that more than 30 million men in the US experience ED. And they expect that number to double by 2025, largely due to the fact that erectile dysfunction is affecting more and more guys in their 20’s and 30’s. ED in your 20’s is becoming more common, and that can signal some serious health risks to a growing number of young men.
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.
There is no evidence that mild or even moderate alcohol consumption is bad for erectile function, says Ira Sharlip, MD, a urology professor at the University of California San Francisco School of Medicine. But chronic heavy drinking can cause liver damage, nerve damage, and other conditions -- such as interfering with the normal balance of male sex hormone levels -- that can lead to ED.
If you’re a guy over 40, there’s a fifty-fifty chance that you have a problem getting or keeping an erection. Now, I don’t mean the sort of erection you saw in American Pie! I mean an erection that’s firm enough and long-lasting enough for sexual satisfaction. Every guy has times when he just can’t manage an erection. Still, if you’re having trouble achieving a satisfying erection more than 50% of the time, you’ve got erectile dysfunction (ED).
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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.
The strength and frequency of your erection are an important indicator of your overall health. The blood vessels in the penis are smaller than arteries and veins in other parts of your body, so any problems like blockages, blood vessel dilation issues, or hormone imbalances will often show up as erectile dysfunction (or less firm erections) before something more serious like a heart attack or stroke.
Having erection trouble from time to time isn't necessarily a cause for concern. If erectile dysfunction is an ongoing issue, however, it can cause stress, affect your self-confidence and contribute to relationship problems. Problems getting or keeping an erection can also be a sign of an underlying health condition that needs treatment and a risk factor for heart disease.
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In an article on Men’s Health about things that wreck your erection, some examples of threats to an erection are sugar, lack of sleep, sleeping near a newborn baby, and lack of vitamin D. The common theme in the article is that reduced testosterone impacts your erection. Not all scientists agree with that. But there are definitely links between testosterone and erectile problems.
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.
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?
Use penile injection therapy. An alternative method that you may be advised on by a doctor is penile injection therapy. For this you will be trained by the doctor how to inject your penis with medicine that relaxes the blood vessels and promotes the blood flow that causes an erection. This treatment has been shown to be effective at treating a range of issues both physical and psychological.
Relationship problems often complicate erectile dysfunction. Improving your relationship may be part of the solution. It may be a good idea to get counseling together from a sex therapist, marriage counselor, or a medical specialist. "I almost always see couples together to discuss erectile dysfunction. It often turns out that both partners have issues regarding the sexual relationship and once they are out in the open, couples can work together on a more satisfying sexual experience," says Feloney.
Erectile dysfunction in older men. Because erections primarily involve the blood vessels, it is not surprising that the most common causes in older men are conditions that block blood flow to the penis, such as atherosclerosis or diabetes. Another vascular cause may be a faulty vein, which lets blood drain too quickly from the penis. Other physical disorders, as well as hormonal imbalances and certain operations, may also result in erectile dysfunction.
The reversal of an erection is obviously necessary, but as Dr. Michael Reitano, physician in residence at Roman explains, this can be the impetus for weaker erections. "Usually there is a balance between the chemicals that result in the increased blood flow that results in a firm erection and the chemicals that allow blood to exit the penis and return it to being soft," he says. "That balance is precise and occurs in a sequence that allows an erection to last only as long as needed. However, in someone who experiences a softer erection, the balance of the chemicals that make the penis hard and the chemicals that return it to being soft is off. The scale is tilted."
Alcohol: A couple of drinks can loosen your inhibitions and help you relax. But alcohol can also impair sexual functioning. Alcohol works on the nervous system by slowing down brain function, breathing, and pulse. Initially, the effect is often psychologically stimulating, since emotions and desires flow more freely. However, while alcohol may boost sexual desire by helping a person to relax, it can decrease performance, especially where erections are concerned. For this reason, it's best for guys to limit their alcohol intake to one to two drinks (or none at all) for optimal sexual function.