What’s potential conditions wrecking your sexual performance — and how to fix them fast.
BY CHRIS CANDER
Your high-school hard-ons were out of control. Remember those days? Back then, it seemed you couldn’t not get an erection — whether you wanted one or not. Now, a couple of decades later, your adult lifestyle has caught up with you and you’re one of the thousands of men who struggle with erectile dysfunction (ED). It’s a stiff dose of reality — pun intended — but we come bearing good news:
ED is highly treatable if you have a handle on what might be causing it. Here are nine health and lifestyle factors that play a role in sapping your sexual strength, and the expert prescription for how to get your mojo back.
THE ISSUE Systemic inflammation is a root cause of nearly all degenerative diseases — including diabetes, arthritis, Alzheimer’s, and cardiovascular problems — and it’s also a major contributor to ED. “Your erection is a dipstick on your arterial health,” says Dr Michael Roizen, chief wellness officer of the Cleveland Clinic and co-founder of RealAge.com. “What causes abnormal blood flow to the heart is typically the same thing that causes abnormal blood flow to the penis.”
YOUR SOLUTION First, see a doctor to make sure your ED isn’t a sign of heart disease. Then, address inflammation to get your blood flowing. Nutritionist Jonny Bowden, Ph.D., recommends taking 1 to 2 grams of fish oil with high levels of EPA/DHA (long-chain forms of omega-3 fatty acid) daily.
THE ISSUE Fat cells aren’t just inert little clouds of fluff that strain your shirt buttons. They’re a mobilised militia of hormonal soldiers that will eat your testosterone and dump oestrogen into your system. Your potential for man-boobs notwithstanding, too much oestrogen can also cause decreases in beard growth, muscle mass, and strength, as well as irritability, excessive sweating and even hot flushes.
YOUR SOLUTION Hit the weights. According to Dr Laura Berman, author of Loving Sex, shedding extra body fat and adding lean muscle mass will increase your testosterone levels — leading to an overall improvement in sexual performance. Concerned about whether your T levels are within normal parameters? “If you keep shaving at the same rate you did at your healthiest, you’re OK,” Roizen says.
3 Sleep deprived
THE ISSUE You always feel better after a solid night’s rest, and research also shows that adequate sleep is essential for sexual performance. Testosterone production intensifies in the sleep phases that immediately precede REM, gradually increasing as the duration of sleep progresses. Researchers at the University of Chicago found that men who slept fewer than five hours a night for one week had lower levels of testosterone.
YOUR SOLUTION The amount of necessary sleep varies, but according to Dr Mike Yurcheshen, professor of neurology at the University of Rochester Medical Center, if you yawn excessively and crave naps during the day, you almost certainly need more than you’re getting.
4 Not flossing
THE ISSUE The bacteria that thrive on the leftovers between your teeth can cause both mood-killing bad breath and impotence. In a study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, researchers found that rats with periodontitis had less eNOS — an enzyme involved in achieving an erection. eNOS produces nitric oxide, which relaxes blood vessels and increases blood flow to the penis.
YOUR SOLUTION “Floss daily to prevent gum and periodontal infections,” Roizen says.
THE ISSUE Let’s face it: size matters, and so do looks, at least in our minds. We’re not all hung like bulls and built like brick shithouses. Performance anxiety can become a self-fulfilling prophecy at all the most inconvenient times.
YOUR SOLUTION Evolution.
ED vs PE
- Erectile dysfunction (ED) and premature ejaculation (PE) can affect your sex life, but they’re not caused by the same factors. Dr Laura Berman says ED is typically a mechanical issue caused by blood flow or nerve-impulse problems. Heart disease, diabetes, smoking and obesity can affect the nervous and circulatory systems, preventing blood flowing into the penis.
- PE is more psychological. “A lot of men grew up with the idea that masturbation was wrong,” Berman says, “so they trained themselves to become efficient ejaculators by masturbating quickly.” You can retrain yourself by using the start-and-stop method, distracting yourself during sex, or by using anti-depressants to increase the stimulation needed to reach orgasm.
23% the percentage of men polled who say a loss of libido hasn’t negatively affected their outlook on life.
20-30% Percentage of men of all ages who admit experiencing PE, the most frequently reported sexual dysfunction in men under 40.