What keeps erections healthy? That’s right, circulation, the
right balance of hormones, and pleasure. But we have many common misperceptions
about how each of these things might help or hurt erections.
Foundationally erections are about blood flow and blood
containment. As the spongy tissues in the penis fill with blood, they swell and
create the hardness of an erection. Blood has to be able to get into the penis
and to be held in there for the erection to last.
Because of the concept of capturing blood in the penis to
hold erection, many men unconsciously tense their pelvic muscles, willing blood
into the penis and willing it to stay there. This does not work. The muscles in
your body do not send blood flow into the penis. In fact, flexible, relaxed
muscles in the pelvis will facilitate more blood flow to the penis. You want
the muscles in your hips, thighs, and pelvis to stay relaxed while you are
getting erect. Practicing stretches for the hamstrings, buttocks, and psoas
muscles can be helpful to keep yourself flexible. (You may find this helps your
sexual functioning in many ways!) Try to become aware of your PC muscle, the
muscle you can use to stop the flow of urine or to cause your penis to twitch.
Learn to feel your PC and relax it, along with surrounding muscles, while
getting erect. Your PC muscle should stay relaxed until the final stages of
orgasm when it can potentially increase sensation and ejaculation. When you
feel you are going over the edge into orgasm, then tighten your PC and see how
For men who are struggling with inconsistent erections,
there are some other simple things you can consider and experiment with to
improve circulation. One common factor - Digestion requires circulation to go
to your stomach. Eat lightly before you plan to have sex; you can binge on
whatever your stomach desires after. Also consider using sexual positions that
facilitate circulation such as you standing or kneeling. Missionary position,
when your weight is in your arms, can compromise circulation to your pelvis, so
you might avoid it. And, if your partner is on top, make sure they are not
putting all their weight onto your pelvis.
Ok, what about hormones? For many people this is the first thing
they consider if erectile difficulties come into play. Hormone levels vary considerably
person to person and throughout our lives. Getting testosterone checked can be
helpful but often is not the answer. Focusing on general health, eating well,
sleeping enough, lowering stress, exercising, may all have positive effects on hormone
health. But we are still learning about how to access and supplement for the
right balance of sex hormones for each unique person.
Which brings us to pleasure, an often ignored part of the equation.
Yes, your body is wired to be inspired by pleasure which feeds the erection
process. In the past you may have gotten an erection with just visual
stimulation (pleasurable!), but now you may need the more direct physical
pleasure of manual stimulation to get erect. Relax and enjoy this part of the
sexual process. Allow yourself to focus on what you are feeling, breathe
deeply, and tune in to your own pleasure. When sex becomes stressful, because
it has turned into a performance or a race to please your partner or an
obligation to get over with before you can fall asleep, the body responds. If
you lose track of your own sensation of pleasure, your body assumes you don’t need
an erection anymore. Having positive interactions with your partner and enjoying
a sexual repertoire that doesn’t always rely on an erection for you to have
pleasure together is key because it reduces stress and keeps sexual play fun. You
can have and give intense pleasure without an erection. You can orgasm and
ejaculate without an erection. Your pleasure is important. Explore new ways to
feel it without pressure.
So for my friends with penises out there and those who love
them, here’s to you! Relax, enjoy and happy pleasuring.