The Olympic motto “citius, altius, fortius” translates to “faster, higher, stronger”. For you, this likely bears a striking similarity to the ambitions of your erections. But what triggers your flaccid, dormant male appendage to metamorphose into a firmer, larger and engorged erection? We explain the science behind your erection and how can you weaponise it to make sure the tower keeps rising for the years to come.
The science of your erection
Achieving an erection is no easy process for your body. After all, it requires multiple inputs from your nervous, vascular and hormonal systems, simultaneously coupled with a strong psychosexual urge. A penis from flaccid to formidable can be broken down into three key stages…
Stage 1: The stimulus
There can be both an indirect and direct way to achieve this. The reflex erection is the direct way, achieved by touching your penis to trigger the nerves in the lower part of your spinal cord and your peripheral nervous system. The psychogenic erection is the indirect way via non-mechanical sexual stimulation (visual, for example) and sexual arousal. This activates the limbic system in your brain, sending electrical signals down to your erectile nerve centres via the lower regions of your spinal cord. The latter is why you can get both nocturnal or “morning glory” erections, rather nonerotically referred to as nocturnal penile tumescence.
Stage 2: The engorgement
Irrespective of how stage one was achieved, the next part is all about your plumbing. Courtesy of your nervous system stimulus, a powerful blood vessel dilator, nitric oxide, is released into the trabecular arteries and smooth muscle in your penis. This causes the arteries and the main bulkhead of your penis, the corpora cavernosa, to become engorged with blood. Helpfully, to keep this blood in place and maintain your erection, the ischiocavernosus and bulbospongiosus muscles of your penis constrict, effectively blocking the veins of your penis from draining blood out.
Stage 3: The flop
Once the stimulus is removed, your peripheral nervous system activity dampens. The processes of stage two then reverse and your penis returns to its normal, resting state.
The shackles on your erection
Now that you have the science of your erection, it may be clearer to see where the restraints to achieving your Olympic-level erection may be. Assuming an absence of any significant spinal damage or hormonal disorders, the potential barriers are in fact different at stage one and two. At stage one, anything that causes impairment in your psychological ability to become stimulated will hamper an activation of your nervous system. At stage two, anything that contributes to a narrowing of blood vessels will hamper the engorgement of your erection.
Physical ways to support your stronger erection
The goal is to have clear, uninterrupted blood vessels in your penis. Below are six key tools to ensure a good flow for now and the future:
Tool 1: Stop smoking
This will remove the risk of damage to the blood vessels of your penis from the toxins in cigarettes.
Tool 2: Exercise regularly
Aerobic exercise will help maintain your blood vessel health and reduce the risk of atherosclerosis. Adding in some Kegel pelvic floor exercises will strengthen your penile muscles that retain the blood.
Tool 3: Moderate your alcohol consumption
Avoiding excessive alcohol consumption will make sure both your nervous system and your penis remain unaffected. A mild amount of alcohol will even pep your game up as it’s a natural relaxant.
Tool 4: Maintain a healthy body mass
This ensures that you don’t have excess body fat which results in more testosterone being converted to oestrogen. This higher oestrogen and lower testosterone balance is what threatens your erection.
Tool 5: Add dark berries to your diet
Berries like blueberries contain an anti-oxidant, anthocyanins, which reduces the levels of free-radicals (harmful to nitric oxide production) and allow for good penile blood flow.
Tool 6: Good control of underlying health conditions
Achieving good control of any condition that affects your blood vessels, such as diabetes, high blood pressure or raised cholesterol, allows for better erections by minimising long term vascular damage.
Mental ways to support your stronger erection
The final four key tools here are simply to ensure that there are no barriers to you feeling optimally sexually stimulated when the moment comes:
Tool 7: Manage your stress levels
Make sure you manage your stress levels using these tools. This ensures the part of your nervous system which triggers the erection has no distractions.
Tool 8: Address any relationship issues
A happy and relaxed relationship with your partner is a sure way to ensure you are comfortable and relaxed when your erection is called upon.
Tool 9: Ensure good treatment for depression and anxiety
These conditions can trigger a performance or self-image anxieties. Beat symptoms back by seeing your doctor and getting on top of them promptly via talking therapies and if needed, medications.
Tool 10: Taper the use of pornography
A healthy amount of porn can add to the excitement with your partner. Too much on the other hand can desensitise you to the pleasures in front of you, so keep it in moderation.
The slow riser: What to do if your erection struggles
Don’t panic. That will only make it worse. Erectile dysfunction is common. In younger age groups it is more likely to be a psychogenic issue around performance anxiety (don’t look to be like a porn star is a top tip). In men between the ages of 40 and 70 years, it is estimated that 50 per cent will have some degree of erectile dysfunction. In this age group there may be a more of a physical issue around blood flow. In either case, consult your doctor and they will be able to give you some more advice. An erectile litmus test is, if you are getting night-time or early morning erections, it is likely a psychological not a physical vascular issue.
Now it may be that all you need to do is tackle some of the issues outlined in the ten key tools. However, yes that advice may also be in the form of a small magic blue pill after consulting with your doctor. Sildenafil (Viagra) is a phosphodiesterase type-five inhibitor, designed to promote blood flow into your penis and achieve a sustainable erection. It can sometimes be a short-term option to help you “get back on the horse” or a longer term method (if there an irreversible dysfunction) to help you enjoy a healthy intimate relationship. Beyond this, there are a range of other topical creams, injection therapies, vacuum pumps and shock-wave therapies to help you. More often than not though, these are not required.
Ultimately, my key message to achieving the best erection you can is to relax, relax, relax. If you can do that, your penis will do the rest.