Is your erection thrusting forth to a proud 5.16 inches – like that of the average man? Is your penis hard enough for sex? Do you still get morning glory? Do you even find it easy to get an erection in the first place?
If the answer to any of the above is ‘not really’, you’re not alone. If you fall into the 40 to 70-year-old section of the male UK population, 50% of your peers will have experienced some kinds of erectile problem. But whatever your age, most men will experience some kind of erectile dysfunction (ED) in their lifetime.
But what do these erectile problems mean and are they permanent?
To borrow a phrase from artist Mark Storor, “the penis is the barometer of the head and heart“. Erectile function (or dysfunction) can be an indicator of the your physical and mental health. And since underlying health issues account for 70% of all erectile dysfunction cases, it’s worth understanding you erection’s health.
So, what is your erection trying to tell you? Consider the following questions and see if there are lifestyle areas you could address to make your erection – and yourself – a little healthier.
Do you smoke?
As several clinical studies have found – men who smoke increase their likelihood of developing erectile problems.
Smoking can contribute to the build-up of fat stores in the arteries which can limit the flow of blood to the penis. The arteries surrounding the penis are particularly small, so it is essential they remain clear in order to achieve a healthy, strong erection.
Help your erection: Stop smoking.
Are you overweight?
What you eat and whether you’re overweight has a direct impact on your erectile health.
Consuming a load of high-salt foods and saturated fats in great measure can lead to a whole host of health problems, from high blood pressure, to high cholesterol and weight gain. All of these risk factors increase your likelihood of developing cardiovascular problems which will directly affect the blood flow reaching your penis.
Weight gain itself can trigger psychological problems, such as poor body image and low self-esteem, which themselves can contribute towards erectile problems.
Help your erection: Eat mindfully – balance your meals and your portion sizes.
Do you drink regularly?
Drinking alcohol can lead to temporary bouts of erectile dysfunction, although chronic abuse of alcohol could make this a more long-term problem.
Alcohol can make it difficult for the tissue surrounding your penis to relax, meaning your erection will receive a decreased blood flow.
Help your erection: Cut back on the alcohol.
Are you diabetic?
Long-term uncontrolled blood sugar can damage blood vessels and nerves linked to erectile function. Men with diabetes commonly also suffer from chronic conditions linked to erectile dysfunction – namely high blood pressure and coronary artery disease.
Whilst Type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented, maintaining a healthy diet and regular exercise can decrease your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. For good penile health, men who already suffer from diabetes should try to keep good control over blood sugar levels. Failing this, diabetics are still able to safely use erectile dysfunction medication, such as Levitra.
Help your erection: get a blood glucose test (OR monitor your blood glucose levels) and eat mindfully.
Do you exercise?
If you don’t already, you should seriously consider working some cardiovascular exercise into your weekly routine – for the sake of your penis if nothing else.
Cardiovascular exercise allows you to maintain good circulation and will reduce the risk of developing chronic conditions which can lead to erectile dysfunction, such as cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure.
Help your erection: go for a regular run, swim, or long walk.
Are you stressed?
Not all causes of erectile problems are physical.
Stress, depression and performance anxiety all have an effect on the health of your erection. Psychological causes tend to be more common in younger men and account for between 10-20% of all incidences of erectile dysfunction.
Help your erection: Adopt strategies promoting good mental health and seek professional support.
Do you take medication or use drugs?
Several medications can have the adverse side effect of erectile dysfunction.
Those using diuretics and high blood pressure medications to treat heart conditions may experience some erectile problems. The same is true for some antidepressants and painkillers.
Illegal drugs such as heroin, cocaine, and cannabis can also interfere with your erections by restricting blood flow and damaging blood vessels.
Help your erection: Talk to your GP to see if medication you’re on affects your erections and drop the illicit drug use.
How healthy is your heart?
As the centre of the cardiovascular system, your heart’s health should be your main priority.
Putting stress on your heart and the network of arteries it uses to send blood to your penis has a clear correlation with the health of your penis. Ignoring all of the above points on improving your lifestyle could seriously put you at risk of developing atherosclerosis, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease – all of which spell disaster for your erection.
Help your erection: Check your blood pressure regularly and address all of the above points.
If you’re doing everything you can but still experiencing erectile dysfunction, find out more about the range of safe and effective erectile dysfunction treatments.