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.
Regular exercise and a diet rich in antioxidants is also the foundation of permanent weight control and diabetes prevention. Studies at the Duke University Diet and Fitness Center show that weight loss is strongly associated with better sexual function. Other studies show that diabetes is a major risk factor for ED, and that a healthy lifestyle prevents the disease and can restore erection function.
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.
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.
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.
"Primarily because people tend to get anxious around introducing these things. Also, introducing these things too early can perpetuate a myth that it's low desire that is leading to the erectile issue. Low sexual desire is often not the cause of the problem. There can be other factors, such as depression, anxiety, poor self-image or esteem, etc. Without proper processing, adding sexual aids can add to a sense of shame if they don't work."
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.
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.
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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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.
Don't forget mental health, either! "If you are experiencing stress at work, in your relationships or at home, open up communication about these issues," notes Axe. "Try natural stress busters like spending time outdoors, taking some vacation time for yourself or seeing a therapist. You also need to make sure that you are getting enough rest every night — seven to nine hours of sleep per night."
“Although having sex at 70 is not the same as having sex at 20, erectile dysfunction is not a normal part of aging,” according to Michael Feloney, MD, urologic surgeon and expert on sexual dysfunction issues at the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha. “You should still be able to have a satisfying sex life as you age." If you are experiencing erectile dysfunction, these 10 dos and don'ts may help.
Exercise on a regular basis. There is evidence that suggests that a sedentary lifestyle can be a factor in erectile dysfunction. Aerobic exercises, such as running and swimming, can help prevent ED. The exercise can help improve blood flow and circulation, naturally help lower high blood pressure and cholesterol, and can even help improve hormonal balance and drive weight loss – all of which are factors that can help you improve ED and maintain an erection.
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.
The vascular processes that produce an erection are controlled by the nervous system and certain prescription medications may have the side effect of interfering with necessary nerve signals. Among the possible culprits are a variety of stimulants, sedatives, diuretics, antihistamines, and drugs to treat high blood pressure, cancer, or depression. But never stop a medication unless your doctor tells you to. In addition, alcohol, tobacco, and illegal drugs, such as marijuana, may contribute to the dysfunction.
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.
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.
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.
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Like going bald, ED becomes more common as men age. According to the National Institutes of Health, about 5% of all 40-year-old men have ED and that number rises with age. Between 15% and 25% of 65-year-old men have ED. This is one of the reasons you see so many ED drug commercials during televised sporting events, Fox News programs, and other shows that typically attract men over 50 (just kidding, Fox).
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.