Millions of men live in a “good news, bad news” situation when it comes to their erections. How to keep the erection longer? The good news is they can get hard enough to have sex. The bad news is they’re not as hard as they (or their partner) would like, and the erection doesn’t last as long as they want. In some ways, this can be more frustrating than not being able to get it up at all. A lot of men choose to take various pills available at convenience store counters or advertised in emails they didn’t ask for, but that’s not a great solution. Additional good news: you can keep a better erection longer by making some small changes to your lifestyle. None of them hurt, and some are even fun. Here are the best I’ve encountered in my research and experimentation.
Eat Nitrate-Rich Foods
Nitric oxide (NO), is a vital substance in the mechanics of erection. It keeps your blood vessels relaxed and open, allowing the blood flow that makes you get hard (1). To make sufficient NO, your body needs a good supply of nitrates. Plenty of foods are rich in the stuff, and better yet most are the foundation for some pretty delicious meals. For example:
- Arugula lettuce
- Iceberg lettuce
- Bok choi
- Any kind of greens: mustard greens, beet greens…
Because of the estrogen mimics in many pesticides (see below), rinse the heck out of any of these before cooking with them. Otherwise, go nuts. There really isn’t such a thing as too much garlic.
Stop Watching Hardcore Pornography
Okay. Here’s the thing about pornography. There’s nothing morally wrong with engaging in a menage a mois while looking at videos of people doing the horizontal bop…but some recent science suggests there are some physiological problems it can cause. It works like this. Your body depends on dopamine for most of your pleasure sensations, including those surrounding arousal and orgasm. When you…ahem… “use” pornography you flood your brain with dopamine. Do that enough times, and it takes more and more dopamine to get you sexually aroused (2). There comes a point, because of the intensity of hardcore pornography, when the amount of dopamine you need to get aroused and hard (and to come), is more than you get from interacting with a real and present sex partner. Bottom line: occasional porn use isn’t a big deal. But steer away from the habitual use of hardcore porn. Save your erections for the real thing.
Avoid Estrogen Mimics
Testosterone and estrogen exist in your body in a specific balance for optimal health and sexual performance. Too much estrogen can limit your testosterone, and your ability to get it up. Estrogen mimics — substances from your environment that act like estrogen once inside your body — can screw up that balance (3). The best way to avoid this problem is to avoid estrogen mimics. It’s not exactly easy, but the steps are simple:
- Cut soy, seeds, chickpeas, lentils, broccoli and brussels sprouts from your diet
- Check product labels for the additives propyl gallate, red #3, phenosulf thiazine, BHA and 4-hexylresorcinol and avoid foods containing them
- Use natural sunscreens to avoid parabens
- Keep your water and food in metal or glass containers, instead of plastic
- Wear long sleeves and breathing masks when working with paints, insecticides, and weed killers
- Rinse your vegetables and fruits, and peel them completely when possible
Estrogen mimics are all over the place, so you won’t be able to avoid them all. But if you do everything you can to limit your exposure, it can help you with your erectile health.
Control Your Alcohol Consumption
This one is probably the worst news in this article. If you want long, strong erections you probably need to cut down on your drinking. Numerous studies have linked excessive drinking with both short-term inability to get it up and long-term erectile dysfunction. The ways it’s responsible for this are varied enough to be an article on its own, but they range from hormonal, to mechanical, to emotional and psychological. Fortunately, this doesn’t mean you have to quit drinking altogether. Moderate drinking — maybe one or two drinks a couple of nights a week — won’t have a strong impact on your erectile health. You can also “hack” this by paying attention to what you drink.
- Beer is the worst (I know, it sucks but it’s true) because of its estrogen-building properties
- Wine, especially red wine, is second worst.
- Hard alcohol has the least negative impact, and some research suggests that a little after a workout temporarily increases testosterone, and this will keep the erection longer.
So drink up. Occasionally. In moderation. Favoring a simple mixed drink like whiskey and diet Coke over a beer.
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Have Sex in the Morning
You’ve known about morning erections since you were a teenager. “Morning wood” is a thing, and you can use that thing to have more satisfying sex with longer, stronger erections and keep the erection longer. Thing is, your body makes testosterone all day and all night, at pretty much a consistent rate. But it doesn’t use much testosterone while you sleep. So it accumulates. That’s why men have the highest levels of testosterone after waking up, and the lowest just before bed (4). True, this one does nothing to treat the causes of erectile dysfunction. But it does take advantage of when the symptoms are at their lowest. And the confidence that comes from consistent success with morning sex can help with some of the psychological or emotional problems that are getting in the way of your wood. As for how to take your morning pee with a rock-hard member, modern science has not yet found a solution to that. PS: This is another reason to avoid drinking too heavily if you want a healthy sex life. Hangovers simply ruin your ability to have satisfying sex first thin after you wake up.
As you know, weak or brief erections come from a complex set of issues ranging from hormonal imbalance to physiological damage, to emotional problems, to psychological blocks. No one solution is a “magic bullet” for every man on the planet. But if you put even half of these suggestions into play, you can fight some of the low-hanging-fruit of causes for erectile dysfunction. Make them part of your lifestyle, and see what happens. None of them have any negative side effects, so the worst case scenario is nothing much happens. And the best case scenario is keeping an erection longer, without taking pills.