A 2013 study published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine evaluated 439 men for erectile dysfunction and compared ED causes and frequency in men 40 or younger to men over 40. They found that 26 percent of the younger men had ED. Although these men were healthier and had higher levels of testosterone than the older men, they were more likely to be smokers or to have used illicit drugs. In almost half of the younger men with ED, the ED was considered severe.
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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.
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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."
Obesity. Obesity itself is not a risk factor for ED — but there is a connection. “The bigger concern is that obesity can lead to type 2 diabetes or vascular diseases, which are risk factors for ED,” says Montague. Morbid obesity, a term used to classify individuals who are significantly overweight, can cause hormonal changes that are triggered by excess body fat. In addition, obesity can put physical limitations on sexual intercourse.
Don’t approach sex like a race. If you struggle with losing your erection quickly, you might be used to speeding things up. That’s counterproductive, though. Work on slowing things down and don’t be afraid of what happens in your body. By slowing down, you’re retraining your body to expect something different from sex. Right now, your body probably expects to climax in a very short period of time. If that’s not what you want, you have to train your body to take a little longer.
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Improve your nutrition. Certain foods, such as those that are fatty, fried, sugary, and processed, can result in decreased blood flow throughout your body and can contribute to a vascular form of erectile dysfunction. Increase your intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and heart-healthy fats to improve your blood circulation and increase the amount of time you’re able to maintain an erection.
Where it comes from: When talking about erectile dysfunction, it's important to note that while there are many potential causes, they can essentially be divided into two discrete categories: physical and psychological. It's also important to note that there's a huge difference between chronic ED and the occasional (and very normal) inability to maintain an erection during sex.
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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.
Francis,*, 42, had ED for 11 years before he decided to seek treatment a few years ago. At first, he didn't even realize that he might have ED. "I thought I was either depressed or that I had lost interest in my girlfriend at the time," he said. But when the problem persisted, he realized it was preventing him from having sex with his partner, who often taunted him for struggling to maintain an erection.
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.