Performance anxiety: Perhaps the most common cause of erectile problems among younger guys is performance anxiety. Many cultures place pressure on men to be the "experts" when it comes to sex, which can make men feel like they have to be responsible for sex or know how to please their partner every time. This pressure can be stressful and make it more difficult to get or maintain an erection.
Erectile dysfunction, also known as ED or impotence, is the inability to attain or maintain an erection of the penis adequate for the sexual satisfaction of both partners. It can be devastating to the self-esteem of a man and of his partner. As many as 30 million American men are afflicted on a continuing basis, and transient episodes affect nearly all adult males. But nearly all men who seek treatment find some measure of relief.
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.
About 5 percent of men that are 40 years old have complete erectile dysfunction, and that number increases to about 15 percent of men at age 70. Mild and moderate erectile dysfunction affects approximately 10 percent of men per decade of life (i.e., 50 percent of men in their 50s, 60 percent of men in their 60s). Erectile dysfunction can occur at any age, but it is more common in men that are older. Older men are more likely to have health conditions that require medication, which can interfere with erectile function. Additionally, as men age, they may need more stimulation to get an erection and more time between erections.
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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.
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As the nervous system of autonomic response, the erection can result in different stimuli that include the sexual arousal and stimulation which is not even under the control of the conscious mind. The absence of the nocturnal erection is also used commonly for distinguishing between the psychological and physical cause of impotence and erectile dysfunction.
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.
Having these factors work in tandem all at once is key. "So many things have to go right for you to achieve a strong erection, which is why the strength of a man's erection is a great indicator for their overall health," explains Reitano. "For starters, your hormones must be released on demand, your arteries need to carry blood to the penis with perfect efficiency, your nervous system must transmit its signals without a hitch, and your mind must be working in perfect harmony with your body. That is a lot to ask of your body on demand."
Medications. There are several different ED medicines that can help produce an erection, such as avanafil (Stendra), sildenafil (Viagra), tadalafil (Cialis), and vardenafil (Levitra). These medications work the same way: they relax smooth muscle and allow increased blood flow into the penis. Testosterone replacement and medications injected directly into your penis to help with erection are also common.
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If this scenario sounds familiar, you're in good company. "In an ideal world, strong erections would come simply and naturally," says Caleb Backe, health and wellness expert at Maple Holistics. "However, due to a myriad of reasons, erectile dysfunction can set it at any given time or for a prolonged period of time for a large part of the male population. It is estimated that as many as 30 million men in the United States alone suffer from ED."
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.
Performance jitters. For some young men, the desire to perform well in bed can be so overwhelming that, in turn, it causes them to not perform at all. “When a younger man experiences ED, it often is associated with significant performance anxiety, which in turn increases the problem, sometimes turning a temporary situation (i.e., too much to drink that night) into a permanent problem,” says Jerome Hoeksema, MD, assistant professor of urology at the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. “The more they worry about it, the worse it gets. Young men need to recognize this cycle and try to reduce the ‘stress’ surrounding sex.”
Regardless of the reason, men spend a lot more time on their butts than they ever have before, shows data from the CDC. And all that sitting hurts your heart and your waistline, which saps your vigor below your belt, Dr. Köhler explains. You need a good 30 to 45 minutes of vigorous exercise at least 5 days a week to counteract all your chair time, experts say.
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So not only are erectile problems common, they're nothing for you or your special friend to be freaked out about. Check out the nine most common reasons that dudes sometimes can't get it up, and get ready to become the soothing voice of reason the next time the guy you're with has a hard time pitching his tent in your happy valley. Everything (and every penis) is gonna be fine!
"Stress and anxiety can adversely affect sexual performance and are common causes of erectile dysfunction,” warns Feloney. “Feelings of stress and anxiety can also lead to depression and a loss of interest in sex." It's important to get these feelings out in the open where you can deal with them. Issues that can lead to erectile dysfunction include fear from previous bad experiences with sex, family or work related stress, poor communication with your partner, and unrealistic goals and expectations.