Struggling to get hard for long enough to enjoy penetrative sex? From cropping up uninvited to losing steam before the main event, the penis sometimes operates as a separate entity. So, if your fella has gone rogue and refuses to rise to the occasion, you are not alone.
According to research, nearly half of all men in the UK experience erectile dysfunction at one time or another. That's a whopping 16.5 million people. And this disproportionally affects men aged 25-34, the study by Pharmacy Direct GB found.
So, if your boner is refusing to play ball, try not to worry. Whether it’s down to performance anxiety, work stress, or simply one too many pints, sometimes your erection might not be up to the task at hand and it's rarely the sign of anything more serious. The good news is with a few tips, lifestyle tweaks and well-chosen products, erectile dysfunction is often easily treatable.
What is erectile dysfunction?
Erection issues are common for men of all ages. 'Erectile dysfunction is the inability to get or maintain an erection that is sufficiently firm enough for penetrative sex,' says to Dr Pratsides, lead GP at online men’s health clinic Numan.
A half-mast penis also comes under the erectile dysfunction umbrella, ‘particularly if the semi-hard penis is not hard enough to allow for sexual intercourse,’ adds Dr Pratsides.
What Causes Erectile Dysfunction?
More often than not, erectile dysfunction is caused by stress, tiredness or too much booze. However, depression and anxiety can also be contributing factors.
'Often men have erectile dysfunction because of performance anxiety and self-inflicted pressure to impress a new partner,' explains Dr Pratsides. 'Lifestyle factors can also contribute, including prolonged abuse of alcohol and recreational drugs which can lead to damage of blood vessels and nerves.'
While it's normal to lose enthusiasm every now and then, if your penis is repeatedly flying at half-mast, then it's time to take action. 'Erectile dysfunction can also be a symptom of a serious underlying physical or mental health cause,' explains Dr Pratsides. 'The most concerning physical cause is damage to blood vessels due to high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes. Another important physical cause of ED is low testosterone, which is the key male hormone for maintaining sex drive.' If in doubt, always get checked out by a medical professional.
Erectile Dysfunction Treatment
If you are concerned about any of the red flags mentioned above, make an appointment with your GP and consider a lifestyle overhaul. Excessive drinking, smoking, and high stress levels will do nothing to bolster your bedroom performance. In fact, anything that negatively impacts your blood circulation and heart health, including a poor diet and sedentary lifestyle, spells bad news for erection strength.
Dr Pratsides recommends the following lifestyle tips to firm-up your erection and keep everyone happy in (and out of) the bedroom:
• Cut down on alcohol: Booze can play a big role in your ability to achieve or maintain an erection. 'Aim to drink no more than 14 units per week,' advises Dr Pratsides. 'Stopping recreational drug use will also help.'
• Lose weight: Being overweight can contribute to erectile dysfunction, as it is associated with high cholesterol and diabetes. 'This can damage blood vessels and interfere with blood supply to the penis during sexual arousal,' says Dr Pratsides. 'In particular, belly fat, which secretes chemicals that reduce natural testosterone.'
• Get fit: If you need a motivator to hit the gym, consider this your green light! 'Regular exercise along with reducing high sugar and fat-containing foods will help reduce weight, optimise testosterone and reduce the risk of high cholesterol and diabetes,' adds Dr Pratsides.
• Quit porn: A less commonly discussed but no less important lifestyle factor is overexposure to pornography. 'Men can become desensitised to real-life sex, only being aroused by extreme fantasies,' explains Dr Pratsides. 'Trying to cut down will help increase sexual arousal and erection strength. If you feel you might have a porn addiction then psychological therapy can help.'
10 Best Products For Harder Erections
If your diet, exercise and porn habits are in check but your member still needs encouragement, take your pick from our selection of the 10 best products for harder erections.
1. Cock Ring
Provided you don't have any underlying health conditions, a cock ring can be a quick-fix if you need to make your erection feel firmer and last longer. It works by applying pressure to the base of your penis (or penis and testicles), squeezing the blood vessels and reducing blood flow out of the shaft while allowing blood to continue to flow in. Plus, you can use it in tandem with one or more of the other products on this list to boost your penis power. The Silicone cock ring set from Lovehoney is a good place to start. Get yours here.
One of the most common and effective erectile dysfunction treatments is medication known as PDE-5 inhibitors – the active compound found in Viagra. 'These cause increased blood vessel dilation during sexual arousal, leading to better blood flow to the penis and strong sustainable erections,' explains Dr Pratsides. For best results, pop a Sildenafil about an hour before you get jiggy and then prepare for a night of solid passion.
3. Penis Pump
A pump can improve your immediate sexual performance and boost your erectile health too. The vacuum forces blood to flow into your member, resulting in an immediate and visible increase in both penis length and girth. 'Penis pumps are usually effective in achieving a strong enough erection for penetrative sex,' says Dr Pratsides. However, 'if used incorrectly they can lead to trauma to the penis causing bruising, swelling or discolouration' he warns. If you’re new to penis pumps, make sure you read the instructions fully before you proceed. The Hydro7 Penis Pump from Bathmate is super simple to use and promises a thicker and longer erection in six weeks. Grab yours here.
4. Erection Cream
An erection cream, like this one by Velv'Or, contains natural extracts that help more oxygen-rich blood to circulate through your arteries, thus improving the power of your pecker. Results can vary, so a word of advice: slap a pea-sized test blob on your arm or leg before applying it to more delicate areas. All good? Rub the cream along the full length of your penis for an extra-strong erection. Get yours here.
5. Climax controller
If you manage to achieve an erection, but regularly lose steam or bust your nuts too soon, it's worth investing in a climax controller. This programme from MyHixel is pricey, but the package includes access to CBT therapy, support from a team of sex experts and a textured canal (that feels remarkable like a real-life orifice) to help you boost your penis-power and learn to set the pace.
Tadalafil is a new type of PDE-5 inhibitor that has shown solid success in erectile dysfunction treatment. 'It can be taken prior to planned sexual activity in a similar way to Sildenafil,' advises Dr Pratsides. However, Tadalafil works a lot faster and its effects can last for up to 36 hours, so only pop one of these bad boys if you (and your partner) are prepared to go the distance. If a two-day boner sounds like an ordeal, you can micro-dose. 'A low dose of Tadalafil can be taken every day to allow for more spontaneous erections and unplanned sex,' suggests Dr Pratsides. Speak to a pharmacist if you're not sure.
It’s no secret that lubrication leads to better sex. Lubing up heightens the sensation in your (and your partners) nether regions. And the more intense your arousal, the harder your erection. Try this extra silky water-based lubricant, which is made from a creamy white and vegan-friendly formula for maximum slippery and sensual fun. A little goes a long way. Buy yours here.
8. Erection Enhancer Cream
We have already featured a similar product on our list, but this erection enhancing cream from Boners is too good not to include. It's designed to moisturise your manhood into submission, which the brand claims will stimulate blood circulation, enhance growth and lead to a firmer erection. While this is a bold claim, having a clean and silky soft peen can't hurt.
9. L-arginine Oral Supplement
This one will take a bit of pre-planning, but there are several supplements that can help you cast a formidable shadow, so to speak. Taking L-arginine and Pycnogenol supplements for two months can improve erections and sexual satisfaction for men with mild-to-moderate erectile dysfunction, according to a study published in Phytotherapy Research. Alternatively, Horny Goat Weed also helps boost penile blood flow in much the same way as Viagra. You can buy them here.
And finally... some good news! Groundbreaking new research has found that drinking coffee can actually help combat erectile dysfunction. The study, carried out by Professors at the University of Texas, showed that a caffeine intake of approximately two to three cups of coffee per day was enough for respondents to be less likely to suffer from a persistent limp member. Cup of Joe anyone? While we can't confirm or deny if we've had the same success, we're big fans of this tasty Grind House Blend.
If your penis problems persist (or worsen), do call in the professionals and pay your GP a visit.
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