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May 27, 2022

You might be surprised to find out that erection problems genuinely happen to everyone at some point. Your erection is more sensitive than you may know, and you shouldn't go running straight for a prescription to solve that issue. There are many ways to improve your erectile strength and reliability without having to rely on harmful and potentially addictive medications. 

However, some people need a little extra help from medications like Viagra or Cialis. Take the time to figure out whether or not you need medical intervention to continue your sex life. Until then, see if any of this sounds familiar to you.

What Causes an Erection? 

An erection happens in the penis.

During arousal, your arteries relax and open up the blood vessels in the penis.

Once the arteries are opened up, they let in additional blood flow - meanwhile, the veins close up.

Once your penis is engorged with blood, pressure traps that blood inside your penis.

This process causes your penis to expand and hold an erection. 

There are three main types of erections

1) Night erections - the average male has about 3-6 of these every night.

2) Reflexogenic erections- these happen due to your penis being physically stimulated by a hand, some fabric, or a sex toy.

3) Psychogenic erections - these erections happen as a result of something you're thinking about, seeing, watching, or fantasizing about. 

The majority of erections are caused by reflexogenic and psychogenic stimulation. But, nighttime erections are the primary indicator that you may have erectile dysfunction, also known as impotence.

Your nighttime erections are entirely natural and signify that your body is in good health. These can be an excellent barometer of other health issues as you age. If you do not get boners at night, you should talk to a doctor. 

How Do I Know if I Have Erectile Dysfunction?

The easiest way to tell if you might have true ED is to go to sleep! We mean doing a simple at-home preliminary test to find out if you should speak with a doctor.

How can you tell if you get boners at night? Just because you don't remember them doesn't mean they didn't happen. The classic "stamp test", as discussed in the famous showSex and the City, is actually helpful.

  1. Get an old fashioned roll of stamps (the kind that is on wax paper.)
  2. Cut a piece of the stamp roll-off so it's long enough to wrap around the base of your penis.
  3. Wrap the stamps around the bottom of your penis. Use the stamp adhesive to stick the ring of stamps together.
  4. Put on some shorts and go to sleep!

If you wake up and find that the role of stamps has ripped, you got a nighttime erection! That means you likely don't have erectile dysfunction and may need to look to other areas of your life to improve your erectile strength. 

If the stamps didn't break or slipped off during the night, try again for a few more nights. If you find they consistently do not rip or keep falling off, talk to your doctor about an erection study. 

What are the Main Causes of Erectile Difficulties?

There are all kinds of potential causes for erectile difficulties. Your penis and sexual arousal system are much more sensitive than you think. There are a few different settings you need to consider that may cause you to have erectile problems.

Sexual Context

Context is always crucial! Regardless of what you learned in porn about always being able to immediately "rise to the occasion", it may take a little more than you used to need. Consider if any of these factors are impacting your sexual experience:

  • Your partner or relationship -These can be critical factors. Suppose you're with a new partner, one that reminds you of your mother or one that is especially critical. In that case, your penis may indicate that something is off in your budding relationship. Also, consider if you've been upset with or annoyed at your partner recently, these could also be why you're not having erections like you'd like to.
  • Your environment -Do you live with family? Maybe young children are playing nearby? Can you hear the tradies having a go at each other in your backyard? These things are likely to impact your penis' response to sexual contact. 
  • Substances -Having a few drinks, partaking in substances, or taking prescribed medications can lead to erectile issues. If you're struggling with your erection after a few beers, then switch to nonalcoholic beer (there's a reason why they call it "whiskey dick ", after all.) If you've started having erectile issues after changing your medication, then ask your doctor or psychologist if there are any alternatives that you can try.  

Learned Behaviors

Masturbation is the bedrock of all sexual pleasure and experience. Your masturbation habits as you form your sexual identity and solo sex habits can directly impact your sexual arousal system.

  • Porn -Porn is a tricky topic when it comes to masturbation. While it can be a potent sexual aid during masturbation, it can lead to issues with your partnered sex life over time. If you regularly rely on porn during masturbation, partnered sex may not stack up. If you think this could be the cause, stop relying on porn and start living out fantasies in your head!
  • The death grip -Maybe you can get an erection at first, but you find you lose it while you have sex with a partner. This may be because your penis is used to the "death grip" many men prefer during masturbation. This tightness and customized stimulation is something a vagina cannot replicate. To fix that, relax your grip and try a masturbator instead! 
  • Performance anxiety -Everyone struggles with how they will "perform" in bed. Are you going to please your partner? Is it going to work this time? All of this running through your head prevents you from focusing on the pleasure in the moment. If you're having difficulty with this, try regular mindfulness meditation. 

Your Health

Of course, your general physical and mental health will directly impact your erections. If you're living an unhealthy lifestyle or aren't prioritizing self-care enough, the first indicator is often your erection.

  • Mental Health -It could be you've been struggling to recover from trauma, are stressed at work, or are annoyed with your partner. Or just about anything else! All of this is likely to show up in your sex life. Start prioritizing self-care and personal intimacy to see if this is your underlying cause of erectile issues.
  • Physical Health -Your erectile strength can indicate that something is going on with your health. If you've eliminated other potential causes, talk to your doctor about getting your testosterone level tested and getting a physical.
  • Exhaustion -Being tired is a legitimate excuse. Fatigue and stress weigh you down and make it challenging for your body to work the way you're asking it to. Make sure you're getting plenty of sleep and eating healthy!

What Can I Do to Improve My Erection?

Most men with erectile issues are quick to run to their doctor for a Viagra prescription. But there are so many other safer alternatives that you can try first that can help you improve your erection without the help of drugs.

  • Cock rings - These fantastic little sex toys are simple. They're designed to go around the base of your penis or behind the testicles. They prevent the blood from leaving as quickly. Doing this will maintain a more prolonged erection and reduce sensitivity. Therefore you can last longer and make your penis look and feel larger, and they also make your orgasms more powerful.
  • Start doing Kegels - Kegels are critical for your pelvic floor muscles, which control your penis. Imagine you're peeing, and you want to stop the flow. Squeeze those muscles right now. Hold this for about five seconds. Then relax them for about 4 seconds. You've done one kegel! Now do about 15 of these three times a day, and you'll be well on your way to improved orgasmic strength, ejaculate strength, and erectile strength. 
  • Penis pumps - These are a gym for your penis. If you want to improve your erectile strength (or use it for sex), start with trimming your pubes, then put some water-based lube around the opening. Put your penis inside the tube and gently, slowly squeeze the ball, creating a vacuum around your penis. Slowly pump the ball until you've reached an erection. If you're focusing on strength, let your penis become flaccid again, then repeat. Over time and regular use, your penis will become much stronger. If you're using it for one-off sex, then after an erection, slide a cock ring onto the base of your penis and enjoy! 

Erectile difficulties are not the end of the world. They signal that you need to start paying better attention to your mental and physical health. You can begin making healthy lifestyle changes to ensure that your erections stay around for many years. 

If you need help choosing a cock ring or a penis pump, come into one of our three locations around New South Wales and get support from our in-store Sexperts!

Get out there, Get in there, and Get off there!

Elaine S. Turner

Resident Sexologist | Sex & Relationship Coach | Pleasure Product expert


6 min read

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