There’s a saying that men have two emotions: hungry and horny – the advice being that if we’re seen without an erection, we probably want a sandwich. However, what about the millions of well-fed men for whom the issue isn’t a fully loaded fridge, but a fully loaded penis?
It’s estimated by the NHS that half of all men between the ages of 40 and 70 suffer from some form of erectile dysfunction, with a range of causes, both physical and psychological.
It’s not just older men lacking in lead either. A study published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine showed that impotence affects as many as one in four men under the age of 40.
Fortunately, there are a few things that can be done to give your penis the Popeye treatment (and none of them involve slathering it in spinach). So before you go in search of a little blue pill, try these six tool-boosting tips.
You might think we’re pulling your (third) leg, but hitting the gym is in fact a scientifically proven way of stopping your flag from flying at half-mast: “Exercise increases testosterone and therefore drive for sex, so will improve the possibility of a stronger and more confident erection,” explains Dr Benjamin Piper, who worked on Channel 5’s Sex Pod.
“Psychologically, being fit also confidence in body and attractiveness and so will lead to less anxiety and more drive.”
Take A (Chill) Pill
It can be hard to point north while thinking about mortgage payments, which explains why stress is one of the most common factors known to cause libido to lag. If you struggle to focus on the task at hand, Dr Piper suggests it might be time to realign your yin and wang: “Mindfulness practice allows a person to learn to be in the moment, and this has obvious advantages during sex,” he says.
“Focus on the sexual sensations, touch and heat, rather than thinking about problems outside of that moment.”
Jump Into Bed
Most people (with ED or not) know that failing to get enough sleep can leave you in a flaccid mood. However, because of its role in maintaining testosterone levels, not enough shut eye could also be shutting down your sex life: “Sleep ties in with food’s role around general well being and looking after your body,” says escort-turned-author Rebecca Dakin.
“If you’re tired, your libido and desire for sex can be affected, meaning weaker erections.” The lesson: If you want a money shot that packs a punch, spend more time between the sheets.
Pick Your Position
Dakin, known as The Great British Sexpert, also suggests learning which positions are guaranteed boner boosters: “Blood flow is stronger when standing or kneeling, so positions that let you do that as opposed to laying down will improve your erection,” she says.
“Positions like doggy or standing while your partner is bent over are good for increasing erection strength.”
Watch Your Mouth
What you put in your mouth affects your gonads just as much as it does your gut: “There are of course blood vessels in your penis, so any diet bad for your heart and blood vessels is also bad for your penis’ long term health,” explains sexual health specialist Dr Lauren Bull. “There is also some evidence for a link between a Mediterranean diet and good sexual function.”
So start knocking back meals packed with plenty of fruit, veg, whole grains, nuts and olive oil.
Cut Back On The Alcohol
Booze might give you the confidence to chat to someone at the bar, but it’s not going to help the situation when it comes down to it: “In the long term alcohol can affect erections due to nerve damage. In the short term it can reduce blood flow and thus result in ‘brewers droop’,” says Dr Bull.