Men, are you unhappy with how hard your erections get? If so, figure out whether you’re dealing with a one-off issue or if less than ideal erections are becoming a regular occurrence. Either way, a combination of talking with your partner, making some lifestyle adjustments, and forming new habits may help.
Nota Bene! Start by talking to your partner. Talking to your partner is the only way to communicate how you’re feeling and what you’re experiencing. Use this time to openly discuss any anxieties, discontents, or boredom you have about your current sex life.
Tips on how to spark a healthy, productive conversation:
- Dissatisfaction with your sex life doesn’t mean dissatisfaction with your partner or relationship. Keep your mind from wandering toward extremes. Do your best to reassure your partner. A convo about your sex life likely doesn’t mean the end of this pairing; you may just need something new to spice things up.
- Sexual behaviors are often learned from the media we consume. This includes both positive and negative depictions of sexual activity. Be aware that what you think sex is supposed to be may not be what you or your partner want.
- Timing is crucial. This is no time to multi-task. Don’t risk making your partner feel unheard during a vulnerable conversation.
Try something new in the bedroom. Before you do anything drastic to your diet or lifestyle, spice it up with:
- New positions. Try raising your partner’s legs on your shoulders when you enter, do it from behind while lying on your side or with your partner on their hands and knees, or have your partner keep their legs closer together to tighten the vaginal canal or anal area.
- Sex toys. Handheld vibrators, peni
s rings, butt plugs, and anal beads can be a fun way to stimulate the penis, clitoris, or anus.
- Other forms of sexual contact. Use your mouths to build excitement, either on each other’s genitals or other erogenous areas.
- Different entry points. In a heterosexual relationship and only tried vaginal sex? Ask your partner if they’re interested in trying anal. Or if they’re willing to peg you with a toy. Pro tip: Bring plenty of lube!
- Role-playing. Set up a situation or act as characters to help build an arousing story around your sexual encounter.
- Focus less on sexual performance. Focus more on identifying what type of touch feels the most pleasurable to you.
Eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. The nutrients in many fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes help improve blood flow throughout your body — including your penis. And blood flow to the penis is one key to healthy, consistent erections.
Helpful foods for better sex:
- Fruits high in antioxidants and anthocyanins, such as blueberries, can help protect body tissues and lower your heart disease risk.
- Dense, leafy greens with folate, like spinach, can help boost testosterone levels.
- Foods dense with B-12, such as fermented soy-based tempeh, can help support other bodily functions that contribute to erectile health.
- Foods with L-arginine, such as oatmeal, can help relax your muscles and improve blood flow.
Eat less fatty, fried, processed foods. Eating a diet that’s high in fatty, fried, or processed foods may increase your risk for conditions that can affect your sexual health and overall well-being.
These conditions include:
You may find it helpful to:
- Swap high-fat dairy products, like yogurt and milk, for low-fat versions.
- Opt for oat or whole-grain cereals instead of processed ones.
- Buy cheese whole instead of pre-grated.If you’re usually pressed for time, you may find it helpful to keep salad greens and other easy-to-prep vegetables and grains like quinoa on hand.
Following this diet may help:
- lower cholesterol
- increase antioxidants
- increase L-arginine levels
- improve blood flow
If you aren’t ready to make the switch or want to ease into it, start eating more of the following:
- vegetables like kale, spinach, and carrots
- fruits like apples, bananas, and grapes
- nuts and seeds like almonds, walnuts, and sunflower seeds
- legumes like beans, lentils, and peanuts
- tubers like potatoes and yams
- poultry like chicken and turkey
- dairy like cheese and Greek yogurt
- healthy fats like extra-virgin olive oil and avocados
Cut back on your alcohol intake. Heavy alcohol consumption is associatedTrusted Source with a higher risk of sexual dysfunction.
One or two drinks typically won’t hurt. It may even help lower your risk for erectile issues.
But there’s a direct correlation between how many drinks you have and how often you have issues with sexual performance.
Feel free to drink more caffeine. Love coffee or tea? Great! Caffeine can improve blood flow and relax the muscles that help you get and keep an erection.
Stick to black coffee, unsweetened tea, and caffeinated drinks without sweeteners.
Get at least 20 minutes of moderate exercise daily. Some research suggests that physical inactivity can have a negative effect on erectile function.
Make time for a short walk or jog, or consider the following moves for an at-home workout:
Watch how much time you spend cycling. Some research suggests the pressure put on the blood vessels and nerves in your pelvic area when biking can lead to ED.
More research is needed to know if there’s truly a connection.
If you bike a lot to work or just for fun, consider investing in a seat that takes some of the pressure off your perineum, where pressure may do the most damage.
All in all, maintain a healthy weight. Having excess weight or obesity can affect your sex drive and increase your risk for conditions that affect your sexual health, including:
Get enough sleep. Not getting enough sleep, especially as a result of sleep apnea and other sleep disorders, has been linked to an increased risk of ED.
This can affect your circulation, and, in turn, make it more difficult to get and maintain an erection.
Some tips to make sure you get your six to eight hours a night:
- Turn off all screens including your phone, computer, or TV at least an hour before bed.
- Avoid caffeinated drinks after about 6 p.m.
- Limit any daytime naps to an hour or so at most.
- Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day.
- Consider taking a melatonin supplement about an hour before bed.
- Keep your bedroom at around 70°F (21°C).
Do what you can to minimize or better manage your stress. Research suggests that psychological factors like stress and anxiety are often the culprit behind ED.
Stress and anxiety can also make you more likely to develop other conditions linked to ED, including:
Try these tips to reduce stress:
- Listen to music.
- Light an aromatherapy candle or diffuse essential oils.
- Keep a journal to write down your thoughts.
- Make yourself laugh with a funny movie or stand-up comedy.
Nitric oxide opens up your blood vessels, allowing blood to flow through more easily when you’re erect. Impairing its effectiveness can make it more difficult to get and stay erect.
The earlier you quit, the lower your overall risk for developing ED.
You may be able to use an herbal supplement, but exercise caution. Herbal supplements aren’t regulated like food and medication. Many herbs can interact with over-the-counter and prescription medications, too.
Talk to a healthcare provider before adding any of the following supplements to your routine. They can discuss your individual risk for side effects.
Talk to your provider about:
- L-arginine. This amino acid has been shownTrusted Source to help with ED. It relaxes blood vessels to improve blood flow for consistent erections.
- L-citrulline. This is another amino acid. Your body converts it to L-arginine. It also improvesTrusted Source blood flow by helping create nitric oxide.
- Ginseng. This herb has long been shownTrusted Source to improve libido with a component called ginsenosides. It may also improve sperm quality and sperm count.
- Yohimbe. This tree bark-derived substance is thought to blockTrusted Source alpha-2 adrenergic receptors. This may increase blood flow for better erections. More research is needed to better understand this potential connection.
- Horny goat weed. This cleverly named herb contains icariin. This substance blocks PDE5, an enzyme that stops erections. It also makes it easier for blood to flow into the smooth muscles of the penis.
Different scenarios may produce different results.
Q: Why do I have a firm erection when I masturbate and not when I’m with a partner?
Masturbation is a solo activity. If you’re horny, you can get yourself to an orgasm without much help as you can focus entirely on the good feelings that come with self-pleasuring.
But sex with another person brings in more complexity: both your and your partner’s moods, emotions, level of trust with each other, and levels of confidence. To reduce performance anxiety, focus more on discovering what’s most pleasurable to you versus on how well you’re sexually performing.
This is where communication is crucial. Openly discussing any anger, resentment, embarrassment, or unresolved conflicts can help maintain the trust and intimacy needed for a healthy sexual relationship.
When to see a doctor or other healthcare provider. Make an appointment with a doctor or other healthcare provider if you’re frequently:
- concerned about the overall firmness of your erection
- unable to get or maintain an erection
- stressed or concerned about your sexual performance
These could be symptoms of ED.
Low testosterone levels can affect sexual performance. See a doctor if you notice the following:
- reduced semen volume
- abnormal hair loss
- persistent fatigue
- difficultly concentrating
- trouble with your memory
- losing muscle mass
- abnormal fat buildup, especially in the chest (gynecomastia)
Your doctor can order some blood tests and recommend treatment, if needed.