While the end product is the same, the journeys take three very different routes. The most common erection is your reflexogenic erection, caused by physical contact. The second is your psychogenic erection, caused by audiovisual arousal or imagination (but no contact). The third and final is your nocturnal erection that comes when you are in the deep REM stage of sleep – and which, in fact, has very little do to with sexual stimulation.
Erectile dysfunction is your body’s “check engine light” because ED can be an early sign of serious health problems like high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol or low testosterone. The blood vessels in the penis are smaller than other parts of the body. So ED symptoms often occur long before more serious problems like a heart attack or stroke. When an otherwise healthy man in his 20’s experiences ED, it’s cause for concern.
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."
In the long term, the best thing you can do for ED problems is “stay playful and keep the focus off getting your partner erect,” says Goldberg. Experiment with new erotic scenarios and situations, like having sex in a different room, wearing lingerie, or role-playing your fave fantasy. Oh, and don’t limit yourselves to just intercourse either (which applies to all couples, whether or not you’re dealing with ED). “The broader your definition of sex,” Goldberg says, “the more sex you can be having.”
Evaluate surgical options. If the other treatments have not proven successful, your doctor may recommend a surgical procedure that will involve an inflatable penile prosthesis being implanted into your penis. Typically a pair of inflatable cylinders are inserted into the penis, which can be pumped up and deflated using a connected device that is inserted into the scrotal sac.

This simple five-question quiz asks you to rank your erections in various situations (during the past 6 months) on a scale from 1-5. It’s not a perfect tool, but it’s simple, short, and gets you thinking about the difference between just getting an erection and being hard enough for penetration and a healthy sex life (because those are two different things).
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.
"This triggers the release of a neurotransmitter called dopamine, and it sends a chemical message from the brain to the penis, causing an increase of blood flow to the penis. The blood vessels leading to the reproductive system then relax and this allows increased circulation in the genital area. When you aren't aroused, the blood vessels in your penis are only partially open. But when your brain sends messages to your penis that you are ready for sex, the vessels open and allow more blood to enter the area. Because of the increased blood flow, blood gets trapped in the penis, which makes the penis expand and causes an erection."
Fortunately, the harm free radicals cause can be prevented with antioxidant nutrients, notably vitamins A, C, and E, and the minerals, selenium and zinc. Antioxidant supplements can help, but nutritionists and public health officials agree that the best way to get antioxidants is from foods rich in them: fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains. That's why health officials urge at least five servings of fruits and vegetables every day. Many studies show that as fruit and vegetable consumption increases, risk of heart disease and every major cancer decreases. There have been no big studies of dietary antioxidants and sexual satisfaction, but the link is biologically irrefutable. As antioxidant intake increases, so does blood healthy flow around the body, including into the penis. If you smoke, quit. And eat at least five daily servings of fruits and vegetables—fruit with breakfast, a salad and/or vegetable at lunch and dinner, and snack on fruit.
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.
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 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.
Erectile dysfunction is no laughing matter. And although it is not an easy thing to talk about, there are trained professionals who can give you good advice about what may be the cause of your current predicament. Many men like to talk about sex, but like women, they may find it harder to talk about sex when it is not going well. You won’t be judged or talked about at BPAS. We are here to help you with some of the more private things in life.
Occasional ED is common in all men, including young and healthy men. But if you have a persistent or recurrent problem with initiating or maintaining an erection and it's causing you or your partner distress, talk to your doctor. “Lack of nighttime erections is another cause for concern, said Wang. These occurrences serve to nourish the penis with oxygen and keeping the blood supply healthy, he explained. "Young men should get four or five of these a night. If you are not getting these and you are having frequent problems with ED, you need to check in with your doctor,” he recommended.

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:

Watch whatever you eat: poor diet is also the reason for weak erections. As per the research, specific eating patterns cause heart attacks due to the restricted blood flow in coronary arteries which impede blood flow to the penis. Blood flow is also required for the penis to make it erect. Some of the diets also include vegetables and fruits that have fried, fatty and even processed foods that contributed to decreasing the blood circulation throughout the whole body. Anything which is terrible for man’s heart is also wrong for his penis and gaining an erection. One can learn how to keep an erection
"Start by cutting out junk, processed and packaged foods. Instead, focus on eating high fiber foods, like fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds, and foods that will help to improve blood flow, such as leafy green vegetables. It's also helpful to avoid drinking too much caffeine and alcohol. Next, make sure you are getting regular exercise. This will help you to balance your hormone levels, improve circulation and manage stress."
If you're still experiencing issues with getting an erection after a few weeks, Dr. Axe says it's time to schedule an appointment with your doctor. "Ask about what health issues can be causing erectile dysfunction, such as cardiovascular problems, hormone imbalances or neurological disorders," he suggests. "It's also important to discuss your medications with your doctor, if you are taking any. Some medications can cause issues with blood flow, so your doctor may choose to change or lower those prescriptions."
Use penile injection therapy. An alternative method that you may be advised on by a doctor is penile injection therapy. For this you will be trained by the doctor how to inject your penis with medicine that relaxes the blood vessels and promotes the blood flow that causes an erection. This treatment has been shown to be effective at treating a range of issues both physical and psychological.
Be intimate in new ways. If your sex is focused just on penetration and climax, you may feel under more pressure to quickly get and maintain an erection, which can make this harder to do. Try to find new and more varied ways to be intimate with your partner that are not just about sprinting to the finish line. Take time with each other, such as taking a bath or shower together or massaging each other.[9]

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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."
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.
"Some physical problems that can lead to weak erections are the inability of your brain to send signals to your penis, which can be caused by neurological conditions like MS, Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's," adds Axe. "Studies suggest that stress, anxiety and depression can produce major chemical changes in your brain, leading to the inability of smooth muscles to relax and allow for an erection. On top of this, researchers have also indicated that the failure to achieve an erection can aggravate a man's anxiety levels, leading to a vicious cycle."

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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.
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.
In the long term, the best thing you can do for ED problems is “stay playful and keep the focus off getting your partner erect,” says Goldberg. Experiment with new erotic scenarios and situations, like having sex in a different room, wearing lingerie, or role-playing your fave fantasy. Oh, and don’t limit yourselves to just intercourse either (which applies to all couples, whether or not you’re dealing with ED). “The broader your definition of sex,” Goldberg says, “the more sex you can be having.”
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.
Watch whatever you eat: poor diet is also the reason for weak erections. As per the research, specific eating patterns cause heart attacks due to the restricted blood flow in coronary arteries which impede blood flow to the penis. Blood flow is also required for the penis to make it erect. Some of the diets also include vegetables and fruits that have fried, fatty and even processed foods that contributed to decreasing the blood circulation throughout the whole body. Anything which is terrible for man’s heart is also wrong for his penis and gaining an erection. One can learn how to keep an erection
"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."

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.

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Stiffy Solution: Again, saying "stop being so stressed out so you can get boners again" is easier said than done — but a lot of people find sexual dysfunction to be a stronger motivator to live a healthier lifestyle than the threat of, say, a heart attack down the road; so there's a chance that this could actually be a good thing in the long run for your boo, if it helps him take his stress seriously. Relaxation techniques like yoga, exercise, meditation, tai chi, and getting adequate sleep can all lessen the impact of stress on your body (and your dong).
Though few things are worse for your erection than a cigarette habit, coffee can actually help you out below the belt. A study by the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston found that men who consumed the caffeine equivalent of 2-3 cups of coffee per day were less likely to suffer from erectile dysfunction than those who preferred to wake up with caffeine-free beverages.

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.
Smoking damages blood vessels, inhibiting blood flow throughout the body ... and I mean throughout the body. While studies have found that men with erectile problems only make up 20 percent of the general population, 40 percent of men with erectile problems are smokers. And a 2011 study of a group of male smokers with erectile problems found that 75 percent of them saw those erectile problems disappear after they quit.
“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.
Most of us are raised to believe that men are ravenous sex-beasts, eternally horny and only pretending to be a part of polite society so that they can find some new crevice to jam their Jeremy Irons into. So the first time we cross paths (and genitals) with a guy who can't get an erection, many of us immediately panic and assume that the problem must be us. We must be profoundly unsexy. After all, what could else possibly stop these hormone-addled maniacs from getting an erection?
Stiffy Solution: Again, saying "stop being so stressed out so you can get boners again" is easier said than done — but a lot of people find sexual dysfunction to be a stronger motivator to live a healthier lifestyle than the threat of, say, a heart attack down the road; so there's a chance that this could actually be a good thing in the long run for your boo, if it helps him take his stress seriously. Relaxation techniques like yoga, exercise, meditation, tai chi, and getting adequate sleep can all lessen the impact of stress on your body (and your dong).
You should speak with a doctor before trying any medication that's meant to help with stronger erections. If you're looking to go that route, there are plenty of prescription drug options that have been engineered to help with this issue. "In terms of conventional treatment for erectile dysfunction, medications called PDE5-inhibitors are commonly prescribed," says Dr Axe. "Four PDE5-inhibitors that have been approved for use in the United States include sildenafil, tadalafil, vardenafil and avanafil."
Then, to rewind and reset the mood once you’re between the sheets, Goldberg suggests setting aside time for strictly fooling around. Try “sensate focus,” a sex-therapist favorite in which you and your partner majorly slow down your foreplay, focusing heavily on the sensations that feel best to both of you. “This helps make being physically intimate more of a relaxing, sensual, and erotic experience,” Goldberg says. And it helps his body disassociate sex from the stressful experience of losing his hard-on, which can help put a stop to his erection fixation and prime him for full-on intercourse again.

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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.

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