Men’s sexual health is complex—physical, psychological and emotional health all play into your ability to have satisfying sex and overcome common performance issues like erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation.
Fortunately, for ED, there are proven medications that can help men get and maintain erections. Through consultation with a medical professional, these prescription drugs could play an important role in boosting your sexual performance.
But there are also simple habits you can adopt that can help get you in the mood and stay there. Let’s start with two that you might already be very familiar with.
Masturbation isn’t just a way to kill time and help you fall asleep—it can be part of an important routine to help with premature ejaculation in a couple of different ways.
The refractory period is the time it takes for men to recharge after sex. Masturbating a few hours before sex can help initiate this period and make you last longer in bed when it comes time to get down to business. Masturbation is also a way for men to practice controlling their orgasm. In its hand-dandy guide on premature ejaculation, the American Urology Association explains how the stop-start method—which involves masturbating almost to the point of orgasm and then stopping before starting again—can give men a handle on PE.
If your morning routine includes a cup of coffee, you might be setting yourself up for sexual success. A 2015 study of over 3,700 men found that caffeine equivalent to approximately 2-3 cups of coffee per day reduced the odds of erectile dysfunction. Caffeine has been shown to have beneficial effects on blood flow to parts of your body, including the penis. In this sense, caffeine appears to have a similar impact on ED as drugs that are prescribed for this condition. If you start your day with a jolt of caffeine, and end your day with some intimate alone time, you could already be on your way to helping improve sexual performance.
We don’t necessarily associate physical fitness with sexual fitness, but we should. Blood flow to the penis and cardiovascular health are closely linked. Even moderate exercise can help improve your heart health and increase physical stamina. Looking and feeling healthy can also give you a confidence boost when you need it most. And on top of the aesthetic advantages of exercising and losing weight, having a slimmer waistline can have significant benefits to your ability to get and maintain an erection. One study found that a man with a 32-inch waist is 50% less likely to experience ED than one with a 42-inch waist. Making daily exercise part of your routine might be more of an adjustment than masturbating or drinking coffee, but it’s worth it.
Read more: Putting your heart into sexual health
Thirty minutes of moderate exercise daily isn’t the only way you can improve your cardiovascular health. Incorporating more fruits, vegetables and healthy fats into your diet can help to lower bad cholesterol and have a positive impact on overall heart health. Fibre found in oatmeal and other high-fibre foods like brussel sprouts, apples and pears can reduce cholesterol intake in the bloodstream. Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish and walnuts can help to lower blood pressure and the risk of developing blood clots. Here’s a short list of foods that can help improve men’s sexual health.
Stress is one of several known factors that contribute to erectile dysfunction. Your day is likely stressful enough without having to worry about sexual performance—an inability to get and stay hard only compounds the stress. While de-stressing is certainly easier said than done, it’s worth making it a priority. Be aware of when you’re engaging in negative self-talk and turn it around. Instead of harping on what’s going wrong, give yourself a break and stay positive. Even simple habits like going for a walk, listening to music and meditating can help give you a breather throughout the day so that you’re ready to go at night.
The good news is that practicing these healthy habits is all within your control. De-stressing, adding more healthy foods to your diet (while limiting alcohol, tobacco and recreational drugs), having a cup or two of coffee, and practicing on your own can all make a positive difference in men’s sexual health. If you’re in need of something extra over and above these tips, talk with a medical professional—you don’t have to go through this alone.