Just like you, many men trawl the internet for how to get harder and longer erections. That’s because, by the age of 40, approximately 40% of men will be affected by erectile dysfunction and that number will increase with age.
Achieving and maintaining an erection is a key part of having a healthy, fulfilling sex life. So, if you’re struggling to get it up, it can really get you down. But don’t give up! In most cases there’s something you can do about it. Here are some natural ways to help get you get harder faster and stay hard longer, as well as guidance on when to seek medical advice.
Reduce anxiety and stress
Your mental state holds your penis like a marionette string, so as soon as you start to over analyse things, it can be game over. Performance anxiety is a type of psychological erectile dysfunction that can have an ongoing effect on your sex life and even make you avoid sex altogther. It happens when you feel stress about your body image or your ability to please your partner. For some guys, just one bad sexual experience can make you fear failure in the future, leading to a vicious cycle of performance anxiety.
Chronic stress is another erection killer. When you’re stressed, your body experiences hormonal changes, raising both cortisol and adrenaline. This affects everything from your ability to think clearly to your ability to maintain an erection.
If you’re struggling to get hard and stay hard – or even just get in the mood for sex – consider doing stress-relieving activities such as meditation, breathing exercises and yoga to help improve your mindset and libido. Deep relaxation – the kind produced by meditation – opens the arteries that supply blood to the genitals and enhances sexual function and pleasure. It also helps to focus your thoughts intently on the present moment. Just 10 minutes a day can make a difference.
Also, don’t be afraid to communicate your fears and desires with your partner. Since a lot of sexual issues start with stress and anxiety, simply sharing your concerns with your partner can help take a load off your mind.
Erectile problems can make you feel angry, sad, frustrated, unsure of yourself or even less ‘manly’. In severe cases, it may even lead to depression.
On the flipside, a man with depression rooted in other causes is more likely to lose interest in activities, including sex, which can lead to erectile dysfunction.
Since sexual desire is cultivated in the brain and sex organs rely on chemicals released in the brain to prepare for sex, any disruption in these brain chemicals (such as depression) makes sexual activity more difficult.
Therapy from a trained Mosh psychologist may help you manage or overcome your depression and help boost your sex life.
Watch what you eat
An unhealthy diet can, over time, kill your hard ons. Since erectile dysfunction is closely linked to high blood pressure, foods that raise your blood pressure – such as processed foods and sugar – can end up affecting your ability to get and keep an erection.
And, if your diet is poor most of the time, you’re at higher risk of obesity, which means a higher chance of developing heart disease and diabetes. Both of these can cause erectile problems on their own, but when combined with obesity, the chances of failed erections increases further.
Want to increase your chances of healthy erections? Start eating fruits, vegetables and healthy fats such as fish and nuts.
Antioxidants, like those found in fruits and vegetables, increase your body’s production of nitric oxide, which is essential for erectile function. It helps to relax blood vessels and smooth muscle, allowing for increased blood flow to the penis.
Your dietary changes don’t need to be drastic either. Making small changes over time can also make a big difference.
Get moving more
Erections require good blood flow, and good blood flow requires good cardiovascular health. That means getting regular exercise can protect you from erectile problems.
One 2018 review found that 40 minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic exercise four times per week can help decrease erectile dysfunction. But if you’ve never been a regular exerciser, start slowly and build up.
The added bonus? Getting fit is likely to boost your confidence in the bedroom and improve your mental health, both of which can improve your sex life dramatically.
Cut down booze and quit cigarettes
A few drinks can help you kiss your bedroom nerves goodbye, but overdoing the booze can cause you to have erectile difficulties.
Alcohol can prevent you from getting a boner in a few ways. Firstly, it’s a central nervous system depressant, which can reduce your sensitivity to sexual stimuli, making it harder for you to get an erection. Secondly, it decreases blood flow to the penis, and thirdly, it increases angiotensin (a hormone linked to erectile dysfunction).
The moral? Having one or two drinks won’t hurt, but try to cap your intake to two drinks per day, especially if you’re on date night!
And if you’re a smoker, it’s time to quit. There’s strong evidence that links cigarette smoking with erectile dysfunction. This makes sense, since smoking can damage your blood vessels, and erectile difficulties are often a result of poor blood supply to the penis. The good news is that if you quit smoking, your sexual and vascular health will likely improve.
Get enough sleep
When we talk about improving our health, diet and exercise come to mind first. But what many people ignore is the importance of good sleep. Not getting enough sleep, especially as a result of sleep disorders such as sleep apnoea, can cause you to have erectile problems.
Firstly, poor sleep is linked to higher levels of stress, which can affect your libido and sexual performance. Secondly, it’s associated with lower testosterone production, which may contribute to erectile dysfunction.
So, aim to get the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep per night. If you’re struggling with that, try power napping throughout the day.
While watching porn isn’t inherently bad for you, too much of it, especially “hardcore” porn has been found to contribute to sexual dysfunction, including erectile difficulties. And it’s a phenomenon that’s helping to explain why so many men under 40 are now having issues in the bedroom.
Porn has the ability to desensitise your sexual response, meaning you need more of it – and often more extreme porn – to get aroused. It may also lead to a dissociation with sex in real life, because the things that arouse you online may not carry over in reality.
Then there’s the comparison factor. Watching porn can decrease your satisfaction with your own body if you’re constantly comparing yourself to what you see online. This can lead to anxiety during sex.
Our suggestion? Limit how often you watch porn. If you’re finding that difficult, a Mosh psychologist can help.
Seek medical advice
Erectile difficulties can often be improved with the natural strategies mentioned above, but in some cases, there will be more serious underlying physical or psychological issues that need to be addressed by a doctor.
For a discreet, online consultation with a doctor who specialises in Men’s health and can help you get quick results, book in with Mosh.
Want to find out more about the causes of erectile dysfunction and possible treatments? Dive into Erectile Dysfunction: The Definitive Guide (2020 Update)