Andrew Siegel MD Blog # 168
It’s great to have a penis…so handy, convenient and multifunctional! As many an older man will attest to, even when erections become mere memories, the penis will still allow you to stand up to urinate—an absolute joy—and a distinct competitive advantage over the female gender. To borrow from a cartoon by an artist named Collins, “Men have elevated peeing to an art form best expressed perhaps on a snowy landscape, a wall or a steam grate. Superior pressure control and the multidirectional penis make the men the masters of urination. Women on the other hand with their small bladders and clumsy apparatus find it very difficult to pee without creating a frightful mess…no precision accuracy here.” As fabulous as it is having a “spigot” for controlled urination, it is even better when you can maintain “penis magic” to old age and observe the transformative process by which the limp penis alters its shape, size and constitution in nanoseconds, rising in defiance of gravity to majestic rigidity.
Our ability to perform physically—in any domain—declines as we get age, explaining why most professional athletes are in their twenties or thirties. In terms of sexual function, when you were young you could achieve a rock-hard erection simply by seeing an attractive woman or thinking a sexual thought. As the years go by, erotic thoughts or sights are no longer enough, as you need direct touch and stimulation. Your sexual interest can skid and your erections may become softer and less durable with less intense orgasms and meager, dribbling-quality ejaculation. When you were young, you could get a second erection with a short recovery time (refractory period) but as you get older, refractory period may be days in length.
What to do? Should you be reactive and wait for your sex life to go south or should you take measures to ensure your continuing sexual health? Why not take a proactive approach? “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” rings very true for nearly all health issues, and so it does when it comes to sexual function.
- Maintain a Healthy Weight If you are overweight, you are more likely to have fatty plaque deposits, which clog up your blood vessels, including the artery to the penis. Abdominal fat converts your male hormone testosterone to the female hormone estrogen, literally emasculating you and causing development of man boobs. Obesity steals away your manhood, male athletic form and body composition, mojo, strength, and one of your most precious resources—the ability to obtain and maintain a good-quality erection.
- Eat Healthy Fueling with nutritionally wholesome and natural foods will help you prevent the build-up of harmful plaque deposits within your blood vessels that compromises blood flow to the penis. Poor dietary choices with meals that are calorie-laden, nutritionally-empty selections (e.g., fast, processed, or refined foods) puts you on the fast tract to clogged arteries that can make your sexual function as small as your belly is big.
- Minimize Stress Stress causes the release of the hormones adrenaline and cortisol. Adrenaline narrows blood vessels, which has a negative effect on erections. If you ever have experienced performance anxiety it was because of adrenaline release in response to nervousness. Excessive cortisol secretion, which helps drives your appetite, causes the accumulation of the bad belly fat (as opposed to fat under the skin).
- Eliminate Tobacco Tobacco narrows your blood vessels, impairs blood flow, decreases the supply of oxygen, and also promotes inflammation, compromising every organ in your body.
- Alcohol in Moderation In small amounts, alcohol can alleviate anxiety and act as a vasodilator (increasing blood flow) and can actually improve erectile function, but in large amounts it can be a major risk factor for erectile dysfunction. Everything in moderation!
- Sleep Well Sleeping has a vitally important restorative function as your brain and body requires this important down time. During sleep, there is an increased rate of tissue growth and synthesis, and a decreased rate of tissue breakdown. Sleep deprivation causes a disruption in endocrine, metabolic, and immune function, resulting in decreased levels of leptin (your appetite suppressant), increased ghrelin levels (your appetite stimulant), increased cortisol, and increased glucose levels (higher amounts of sugar in the bloodstream). If you are exhausted, your penis is going to be weary as well.
- Exercise Exercise can have an amazingly positive effect on your sexual function through stress busting, mood improvement, fatigue reduction, increase of energy and better quality sleep. Long term it will reduce your risk for diabetes, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, some cancers, osteoporosis, chronic medical problems, and physical disability. Let’s not forget improvement in muscular strength and tone, reduction of body fat and help with weight control. Exercise makes your heart a better and stronger pump, your blood vessels more elastic, and your muscles better able at using oxygen. Exercises that work out the muscles involved in sex—the core muscles, the external rotators of the hip, and the all-important pelvic floor muscles—will improve your performance.B e careful with saddle sports like cycling and horseback riding, which may contribute to sexual dysfunction, particularly for those who spend prolonged time the saddle. This can cause compression damage to that very valuable human real estate located between your scrotum and anus that contains the nerves, blood vessels, and muscles that are vital to your sexual health.
- Pelvic Floor Muscle Exercises The pelvic floor muscles play a vital role with respect to both erections and ejaculation. When you are sexually stimulated, the pelvic floor muscles activate and engage to help maintain penile rigidity and a skyward angling erection. These muscles are not only responsible for getting the stimulated penis from a tumescent state (plump with blood) to a state of bone-like rigidity, but also for maintaining that rigid state and for being the “motor” of ejaculation. Numerous scientific studies have documented the benefits of pelvic exercises (Kegels) in the management of erectile dysfunction. The Private Gym is a comprehensive, interactive, follow-along exercise program that helps men strengthen the pelvic floor muscles that support sexual health.It is the first line of defense against the onset of erectile dysfunction and can assist in reversing its occurrence. It is a safe, easy-to-use, natural, medically sanctioned and FDA registered means of targeting and strengthening the all-important pelvic floor muscles.
- Use It (or Lose It) Keep your penis fit by using it regularly for the purpose it was designed for—in other words, stay sexually active! Scientific studies have clearly demonstrated that men who are more sexually active tend to have fewer problems with erectile dysfunction as they age.
- Maintain a Healthy Relationship It takes two to tango, so relationship harmony factors strongly into good sexual functioning just as discord and interpersonal issues can profoundly contribute to ED. The mind-body connection is of immense importance to sexual function and the “big head” is equally important to the “little head.”
Bottom Line: The “Golden Rule of the Penis”: Treat your penis kindly (in terms of a healthy lifestyle) and it will return the favor; treat your penis poorly and it will rebel. The proactive approach will keep you functioning smoothly for many years, and hopefully will keep you out of my office for erection issues, although please don’t forget to get your prostate and PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) checked!
Wishing you the best of health,
Andrew Siegel, M.D.
A new blog is posted every week. To receive the blogs in the in box of your email go to the following link and click on “email subscription”: healthdoc13.wordpress.com
Author of: Male Pelvic Fitness: Optimizing Sexual and Urinary Health; available in e-book (Kindle, iBooks, Nook, Kobo) and paperback: MalePelvicFitness.com
Private Gym website for pelvic floor instructional DVD and resistance training equipment: http://www.PrivateGym.com
Tags: Andrew Siegel MD, Arnold Kegel MD, eat healthy, eliminate tobacco, erectile dysfunction, erection, exercise, flaccid penis, healthy weight, limp penis, male pelvic fitness, minimize stress, moderate alcohol, pelvic floor conditioning, pelvic floor muscle exercises, pelvic floor muscle training, penis, Private Gym, sleep well