So there you have it. Three relatively easy lifestyle changes that can improve erectile function. Eat better, exercise more, and keep the drinking to a minimum. Erectile dysfunction can signal a major health problem, so if you’re experiencing ED, get checked out. However, it’s worth looking into your diet and lifestyle before you start taking medication.
The "Am I Normal?" study examined more than 15,000 men in the UK. The average erect penis was 5.16 inches (13.1cm), while the average flaccid penis was 3.61 inches (9.2cm). But maybe take this with a pinch of salt – the "study limitations" section of the research paper states “relatively few erect measurements were made in a clinical setting and the greatest variability between studies were seen in the flaccid stretched length”. Yes, how hard is too hard to yank for a study?
Erectile dysfunction in older men. Because erections primarily involve the blood vessels, it is not surprising that the most common causes in older men are conditions that block blood flow to the penis, such as atherosclerosis or diabetes. Another vascular cause may be a faulty vein, which lets blood drain too quickly from the penis. Other physical disorders, as well as hormonal imbalances and certain operations, may also result in erectile dysfunction.
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.
“With the success of Viagra-type drugs, there has been a tendency to start all patients with ED on one of these drugs and not look much further for a medical cause. But we now know that ED may be an early warning for heart and blood vessel disease, so it is important to look for common risk factors. These include high blood pressure, diabetes, medications, smoking, drinking, and drugs,” said Dr. Wang.
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.”
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.
Some men have had success by using natural supplements to improve their erections. "There are also natural remedies that can be used to improve erectile dysfunction," says Dr. Axe. "This includes herbs such as ginseng, horny goat weed, maca root and ginkgo biloba. You can also try supplementing with L-arginine, DHEA and niacin. If you choose to try natural products to maintain a strong erection, it's still a good idea to discuss this with your doctor, especially if you are also taking medications."
There can be both an indirect and direct way to achieve this. The reflex erection is the direct way, achieved by touching your penis to trigger the nerves in the lower part of your spinal cord and your peripheral nervous system. The psychogenic erection is the indirect way, via non-mechanical sexual stimulation (visual, for example) and sexual arousal. This activates the limbic system in your brain, sending electrical signals down to your erectile nerve centres via the lower regions of your spinal cord. The latter is why you can get both nocturnal or "morning glory" erections, rather non-erotically referred to as nocturnal penile tumescence. How romantic.
"Stress and anxiety can adversely affect sexual performance and are common causes of erectile dysfunction,” warns Feloney. “Feelings of stress and anxiety can also lead to depression and a loss of interest in sex." It's important to get these feelings out in the open where you can deal with them. Issues that can lead to erectile dysfunction include fear from previous bad experiences with sex, family or work related stress, poor communication with your partner, and unrealistic goals and expectations.