A man achieves an erection when there is increased blood flow into the penis. This increase in blood flow is usually triggered by direct contact with the penis or sexual thoughts.
When a man gets sexually aroused, the muscles in the penis relax, which ensures increased blood flow through the penile arteries, which then fills two chambers in the penis. When the chambers are filled with blood, the penis becomes hard and erect. When the muscles contract and the blood flows out through the penile veins, the erection ends, and the penis becomes flaccid.
How Does An Erection Work?
Firstly, let’s understand how an erection works. An erection happens when there is a dilation of the blood vessels leading to the penis, and this causes it to fill up with blood.
The process is dependent on the lining of the blood vessels that release nitric oxide. The nitric oxide plays a significant role, as it causes the smooth muscles to relax, and then the penis becomes engorged/erect.
Anything that damages the blood vessels leading to the penis can interfere with the process, thereby causing erectile dysfunction.
A man has erectile dysfunction if he can no longer achieve or maintain an erection long enough to have sexual intercourse. It was typically referred to as impotency, a term that is not frequently used now. It is a normal thing to have erectile dysfunction once in a while, and this occurs mostly because of stress.
But if you have frequent ED, it could be that you have a health problem and you need to attend to it. It could also mean that you have emotional or relationship problems that need to be addressed by a professional.
Symptoms of Erectile Dysfunction
- Not being able to have an erection
- Trouble maintaining an erection
- Decreased sexual desire
Causes of Erectile dysfunction
The body’s endocrine system is responsible for the production of hormones that regulate sexual function, reproduction, metabolism, and a lot more. Diabetes is a type of endocrine disease, and it could lead to erectile dysfunction.
Diabetes impacts the body’s ability to use insulin. Diabetes comes with a lot of complications, which include nerve damages, restricted blood flow, and hormonal imbalance. All these could contribute to a man’s inability to get an erection.
Several neurological conditions could increase the risk of having erectile dysfunction. These conditions prevent the brain from properly communicating with the reproductive system.
This could lead to problems with erection. Some of the neurological disorders associated with erectile dysfunction include;
- Parkinson’s disease
- Brain tumors
- Multiple sclerosis
- Alzheimer’s disease
Also, if you have undergone prostate surgery, you could have nerve damage, which would lead to erectile dysfunction. Long-distance cyclers can also experience temporary ED; this is because of the consistent pressure on the buttocks and genitals.
Certain conditions affect the heart and prevent it from pumping blood appropriately. This could lead to erectile dysfunction because when there is inadequate blood flow to the penis, an erection cannot be achieved.
Atherosclerosis is a condition where the blood vessels become clogged; this can cause erectile dysfunction. High cholesterol levels and hypertension could also make a man more susceptible to having erectile dysfunction.
Lifestyle factors and emotional disorders
To achieve an erection, a man must first be sexually excited. This excitement is usually an emotional response. So, if a man has an emotional disorder, it can impact his ability to become sexually excited. Depression and anxiety have also been linked to an increased risk of erectile dysfunction.
Depression is a general feeling of sadness, helplessness, and loss of hope. Performance anxiety could also lead to erectile dysfunction; this is when you fear you won’t be able to achieve an erection because you had problems with it in the past.
As you get older, it might become more and more challenging to get an erection, and even more to maintain it during a sexual encounter. You might need more physical touch to your penis than the normal, to have and keep an erection.
Various risk factors can lead to erectile dysfunction like:
Many men who are overweight suffer from erectile dysfunction. With so many contradicting texts, it can be quite unclear how obesity can cause erectile dysfunction, but it is evident that obesity is a contributing factor to erectile dysfunction.
Obesity can lead to erectile dysfunction by damaging blood vessels, and this would lead to a decrease in testosterone and cause a state of generalized inflammation in the body.
Obesity results in damage to the blood tissues due to associated hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, inflammation, and diabetes mellitus.
The increased state of inflammation can cause free radicals in the body to increase, leading to oxidative damage to the tissues. Men who are obese mostly have high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes, and all of these contribute to erectile dysfunction.
With significant lifestyle changes, like eating healthy and keeping fit, erectile dysfunction can greatly improve.
The most common types of medications to cause erectile dysfunction are blood pressure drugs. The same damages that cause erectile dysfunction can also cause problems with your heart and blood vessels. So if you have erectile dysfunction, you are more at risk of having heart disease and vice versa.
Most people who have heart diseases take blood pressure medications, and these medications cause erectile dysfunction; however, “diuretics” are most likely to cause erectile problems.
Common blood pressure medications that cause erectile dysfunction include thiazide diuretics, loop diuretics, methyldopa, guanethidine, and clonidine.
Other heart medicines that are referred to as “beta-blockers,” have a very small risk percentage of ED. And these include popular drugs like propanolol, metoprolol, and bisoprolol.
It’s not the end of the road if you have erectile dysfunction and take these medications because some blood pressure medications do not often cause ED like, alpha-blockers, ARBs, calcium channel blockers, and ACE inhibitors.
Antidepressants can cause erectile dysfunction and a low sex drive. Examples of antidepressant drugs include SSRIs, SNRIs, MAOIs, and tetracyclic antidepressants.
Other medications include:
- Certain drugs for acid reflux
Most times, the key to getting an erection is centered around you and your partner. Let’s look at easy ways you can achieve it.
Start by communicating with your partner
By talking to your partner, you would be able to express how you feel and what you are going through. You can use this opportunity to discuss any boredom, depression or anxiety you are having because of your sex life. Here are some ways to have a production and healthy conversation with your partner:
- Try to let your partner understand that dissatisfaction with your sex life does not mean that you are dissatisfied with them. Avoid making your partner wander extreme and start to feel sad. Discussing your sex life does not mean that you want to end the relationship, preferably just chip in that you need something to spice your sex life up.
- There are so many things to learn about sexual activities from the media. Negative and positive thoughts inclusive. Make sure you know the sex aspect that you and your partner like before adopting anyone from the press.
- It is important to note that timing is essential. While you are speaking to your partner, it has to be the only activity you are engaged in. This is because multitasking while talking about a vulnerable topic can make your partner feel unheard.
Try something new and different in the bedroom
Before you try out various diets and a change in lifestyle, make sure you have exhausted the numerous ways to make your sex life more enjoyable. You can spice it up with:
You can enter your partner from behind, or keep your partner’s legs closed to tighten the vagina hole or anal hole.
You can even come while your partner is on their knees and hands or put your partner’s limb right on top of your shoulders while you enter. There are numerous new positions to try with your partner while in the bedroom.
There are numerous ways to stimulate your genitals or your partners’ clitoris and anus by using handheld vibrators, butt plugs, anal beads and penis rings.
Other forms of sexual contact
You can use your mouth on each other’s genitals to cause sexual arousal. You can also attempt this on other erogenous areas.
You can set up a situation or play dress-up while you act to stir up your sexual interest.
Pay less attention to sexual performance
Do not focus on sexual performance; instead, figure out which type of touch is most pleasurable to you.
Eat more vegetables, fruits, grains and legumes
Fruits, legumes, vegetables and whole grains contain a specific type of nutrients that help improve your blood flow in your penis area and throughout your body. And having regular blood flow to your genital area aids in achieving and maintaining reliable and consistent erections.
Many foods contain nutrients that can help you in making and keeping erections for a prolonged time. They include:
- Foods with B-12 like fermented soy-based tempeh aids in your erectile health.
- Dense, leafy green that contains folate, such as spinach, is impressive for boosting your testosterone levels, which would, in turn, aid in your erectile health.
- Foods that contain L-arginine like oatmeal