Booze. Most men have learned: One too many cocktails doesn’t improve performance; instead, it can have the opposite effect. During a recent study of 1,506 Chinese males, the men who drank three or more drinks a week were more likely to have ED or some form of sexual dysfunction. “Men may find that alcohol decreases social inhibition, which makes it easier to approach a woman,” says Montague. “But alcohol is a depressant, and at higher quantities it can reduce both a man’s desire and ability to perform.”
"Research shows that most erectile issues are a secondary cause to something psychological happening," he says. "This is when it's important to find a sex therapist. A lot of sex therapy begins with myth busting. We have a lot of myths about the meaning that comes from erectile issues. Most of those myths are simply untrue. Recognizing these myths can often decrease a lot of anxiety."
A “cycle”, as you put it, can certainly become established after a man experiences a number of erectile failures and begins to lose confidence. Once the idea of attempting intercourse produces anxiety rather than excitement, it becomes less and less likely he will successfully produce a reliable erection. Pharmaceutical agents can bypass this cycle, but it can also be extremely important to learn to be less fixated on erectile ability and instead focus on pleasure. Learning it is possible to give and receive enormous pleasure without an erection can be a vital aspect of a return to sexual health. This knowledge can lead to a reduction of the pressure you mentioned, as well as to a lifetime of sexual confidence and enjoyment.
What works as good as Viagra?
It may be that after trialling all the above, including the little blue pills, you are still having challenges. There are always other options. The only issue is that they tend to move further away from science, proven efficacy and fact and more towards anecdotal evidence and illegitimate science, all while preying on a natural desperation to find a solution. I would say, if you are at this stage, go and see your doctor to discuss a referral to see a urology specialist. It may spare you dabbling, unsuccessfully, with the various less-proven methods, including:
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."
Now, it may be that all you need to do is tackle some of the issues outlined in these key tools. However, yes, that advice may also come in the form of a small magic blue pill. Sildenafil (Viagra) is a phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitor, designed to promote blood flow to your penis and achieve a sustainable erection. It can sometimes be a short-term option to help you "get back on the horse" or a longer-term method (if there is an irreversible dysfunction) to help you enjoy a healthy intimate relationship.
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.
Injury to the nerves and arteries near the penis can lead to erectile dysfunction. According to the National Institutes of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, surgeries for prostate and bladder cancer can injure penile nerves and arteries, although it doesn't always happen. Spinal cord injuries can affect the ability to achieve and maintain an erection, as can injuries to the penis, prostate, bladder and pelvis.
Failure to achieve an erection is not uncommon for most men and may be considered normal even if it happens as often as 20 percent of the time. There is a wide range of normal when it comes to sexual functioning and sexual relationships. "Generally if a couple feels comfortable with their sex life and they enjoy intimacy together, erectile dysfunction may not be much of an issue. But if erectile dysfunction is causing stress in a relationship, then help is available," says Feloney.
"Diseases and illnesses can hamper one's ability to achieve an erection," he explains. "Cancer, diabetes and heart disease is the cause in many cases. Low testosterone count caused by genetics, inactivity or unusual level of estrogen in the body can limit penile function as well." High blood pressure and high cholesterol can also be detrimental to erections.
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.
Did you know that a cock ring can help you maintain an erection? This O-shaped toy fits around your penis and helps keep blood in the shaft, where you want it. A cock ring also helps prevent venous leakage, a form of erectile dysfunction where blood flows to your penis, but has trouble staying there. (Giddy, a new cock-ring-like gadget designed to treat ED, may also help guys with venous leakage maintain stronger erections.)