Erectile dysfunction, often referred to as ED, is characterized by a persistent and recurring inability to achieve or maintain an erection sufficient for sexual intercourse. Psychological, physical and lifestyle issues can all cause ED, as can trauma to nerves and arteries. The incidence of erectile dysfunction increases with age, but young men can also experience it.

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.


The second tip is to breathe deeply, the whole time you’re having sex, but especially once you start to feel like you’re going to ejaculate or lose your erection for some reason. Deep breathing sends oxygen and energy to where it’s needed most, and it’s known for intensifying sex. What’s more important, though, is that it helps you get control over your body.
Turning 40 can be fraught with anxiety for all kinds of reasons. Those first gray hairs might be sprouting (if your locks aren't already hanging on for dear life) and suddenly your old belts just don't seem to fit any more. Add to this to your list of middle-age concerns: the rising risk of erectile dysfunction (ED), or difficulty having or keeping an erection.
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."
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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Alcohol is a depressant, not an aphrodisiac or a libido enhancer. Excessive consumption can interfere with the ability to achieve an erection at any age, and even occasional drinking can make erectile dysfunction worse in older men. Feloney advises using alcohol in moderation: "In small amounts, alcohol can relieve anxiety and may help with erectile dysfunction, but if you drink too much, it can cause erectile dysfunction or make the problem worse."
For many older men, issues like diabetes, hypertension and heart attacks are often contributing factors to erectile dysfunction. But Goldstein said that in younger men, ED is far more likely to stem from physical trauma. This could be the result of a sports injury, such as a misplaced karate kick, a surfboard hitting the wrong area or long-distance bike riding. It could also be a result of a sexual injury. (This is most common during heterosexual intercourse, especially in the woman-on-top position, the sex position dubbed "most dangerous" by a 2015 study.)

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Deposits that clog or stiffen penile arteries can also wilt erections. “Guys tend to think of their arteries as simple pipes that can become clogged, but there’s a lot more going on than that,” says Laurence Levine, M.D., a urologist at Chicago’s Rush-Presbyterian Medical Center. “The linings of those blood vessels are very biologically active areas where chemicals are being made and released into the bloodstream.”

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."
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!
Even if your relationship isn't the source of it, depression can keep you from getting an erection. "Erectile dysfunction can affect someone with depression even when he is in a stable and loving relationship," says Dr. Reitano. "Unfortunately, the drugs used to treat depression can cause erectile dysfunction, as well. The good news is that erectile dysfunction medications work whether the difficulty is from the depression itself or from the medications."
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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Studies show that high cholesterol and obesity are linked to erectile dysfunction, and both can be improved through diet. "A heart-healthy diet that prevents cardiovascular disease and maintains a healthy weight is also good for erectile functioning," says Feloney. An ideal diet plan involves eating foods low in saturated fat and cholesterol and having frequent servings of fruits, vegetables, and plenty of whole grains.
Men with a healthy lifestyle and no chronic disease had the lowest risk for erectile dysfunction; the greatest difference was seen for men aged 65-79. For instance, men who exercised at least three hours per week had a 30% lower risk for ED than those who exercised little. Obesity, smoking, and excessive TV watching were also associated with having a greater risk of erectile dysfunction.
Both James and Michael fit the profile of millennial ED: healthy men with functional penises who experience occasional deflation for psychological reasons rather than mechanical issues (the latter of which typically plagues older men). Researchers and the medical community are aware of this specific problem facing younger men, says Landon Trost, MD, a urologist at the Mayo Clinic.
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. 

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.

Stiffy Solution: Obviously, no one should ever go off a prescribed med without consulting with a doctor. But there are erection-friendly alternatives to nearly every daisy-wilting medicine listed above. And your dude shouldn't let embarrassment keep him from talking to his GP about this — doctors are well aware that erectile difficulties are a possible side effect for all of these medicines; they just don't know which patients will experience what side effects, so they're waiting for you, the patient, to bring it up.


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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.
Stiffy Solution: Luckily, alcohol-induced impotence (also known by the infinitely less classy alias "whiskey d*ck") is a totally temporary condition, one that should clear up as soon as your dude can once again walk a straight line and recite the alphabet backwards. If your dude has consistent erectile problems from consistently drinking too much, however, he should consider cutting down on the sauce, and possibly talking with a doctor.

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