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Health

How to make your erection stronger

Everything you need to know about erections from erection struggles to physical and mental tips

You may be unsurprised to learn that little has changed over the years when it comes to erections. In fact, this is probably only matched the pursuit of erectile greatness (judging by the growing column inches on the subject). But there too is a new kid on the sexual performance block: the volume of your semen – likely born out of the explosion of easily accessible online pornography and its warped portrayal of “what’s normal” in sex. Divided into two parts (one: your erection; two: your semen), here’s what you need to know about these two bedfellows...

Part one: Your erection

The erection facts

While erections are not a common source of conversation, that doesn’t mean that we don’t all have the same questions percolating our cerebrum. And with that, here are the highlights.

Fact one: There are three types of erections

While the end product is the same, the journeys take three very different routes. The most common erection is your reflexogenic erection, caused by physical contact. The second is your psychogenic erection, caused by audiovisual arousal or imagination (but no contact). The third and final is your nocturnal erection that comes when you are in the deep REM stage of sleep – and which, in fact, has very little do to with sexual stimulation.

Fact two: A healthy penis has multiple nighttime erections

That "morning glory" is actually the last salute of a night in which you will have likely had three to five nocturnal erections, often lasting up to 30 minutes. Think of it as penile resistance training.

Fact three: There is no correlation to shoe size

Not only is it never a line to be used on a date, there is also absolutely no evidence that shoe size is correlated to the size of your penis. This question made it (somehow) all the way into the British Journal Of Urology International.

Fact four: Shorter penises increase in size more than longer ones

Studies (not the kind of research job I’d want) have shown that a shorter penis increases nearly twice as a much as a longer penis does when erect. So, if you feel that you are hanging a little shorter, just remember: your penis is Elastigirl from The Incredibles. And we love that film.

Fact five: The average size

The "Am I Normal?" study examined more than 15,000 men in the UK. The average erect penis was 5.16 inches (13.1cm), while the average flaccid penis was 3.61 inches (9.2cm). But maybe take this with a pinch of salt – the "study limitations" section of the research paper states “relatively few erect measurements were made in a clinical setting and the greatest variability between studies were seen in the flaccid stretched length”. Yes, how hard is too hard to yank for a study?

Fact six: It’s not always straight

And that is all right. Your penis may naturally have a slight curve in it when erect. Perfectly normal. If, however, the curve causes pain, then it may be a sign of an underlying condition, such as Peyronie’s disease, a condition characterised by scar tissue in the penis. See your GP if you have any concerns.

Fact seven: Your partner doesn’t care how big it is

No, seriously, they don’t.

The science of boosting your erection

Now that we’ve cleared up the questions we have all once let grace our minds, let’s recap what you can realistically and sensibly do to get your erection to match the Olympic motto "Citius, Altius, Fortius" ("Faster, Higher, Stronger"). But before this, let’s start with a quick bit of science about how you actually get an erection.

Now, achieving an erection is not an 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 (unless it’s the nocturnal erections we mentioned earlier). A penis from flaccid to formidable can be broken down into three key stages...

Stage one: 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 non-erotically referred to as nocturnal penile tumescence. How romantic.

Stage two: 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 three: 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 know 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.

Seven physical ways to keep a stronger erection

Method one: Stop smoking

This will remove the risk of damage to the blood vessels of your penis from the toxins in cigarettes.

Method two: Exercise regularly

Aerobic exercise will help maintain your blood vessel health and reduce the risk of atherosclerosis. Adding some Kegel pelvic floor exercises will strengthen the penile muscles that retain the blood.

Method three: 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.

Method four: 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.

Method five: Add dark berries to your diet

Berries such as blueberries contain the antioxidant anthocyanin, which reduces the levels of free radicals (harmful to nitric oxide production) and allow for good penile blood flow.

Method six: 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.

Method seven: Abstain for a few days

By holding off from masturbation and sex for a few days, you will achieve a larger, more engorged penis than if you have been flagging the poor chap multiple times a day. The downside, of course, is that things may be over before you know it.

Four mental ways to support your stronger erection

The final four key tools are simply to ensure that there are no barriers to feeling optimally sexually stimulated when the moment comes.

Method one: Manage your stress levels

Make sure youmanage your stress levels using these tools. This ensures the part of your nervous system which triggers the erection has no distractions.

Method two: 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.

Method three: Ensure good treatment for depression and anxiety

These conditions can trigger 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.

Method four: 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.

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 seek to be like a porn star is a top tip). In men between the ages of 40 and 70, 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 nighttime 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 these key tools. However, yes, that advice may also come in the form of a small magic blue pill. Sildenafil (Viagra) is a phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitor, designed to promote blood flow to 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 is an irreversible dysfunction) to help you enjoy a healthy intimate relationship.

When to speak to your doctor

It may be that after trialling all the above, including the little blue pills, you are still having challenges. There are always other options. The only issue is that they tend to move further away from science, proven efficacy and fact and more towards anecdotal evidence and illegitimate science, all while preying on a natural desperation to find a solution. I would say, if you are at this stage, go and see your doctor to discuss a referral to see a urology specialist. It may spare you dabbling, unsuccessfully, with the various less-proven methods, including:

  • Topical creams
  • Injection therapies
  • Vacuum pumps
  • Shock-wave therapies

Despite the Pandora’s box of tools and tricks at your disposal, the best medical advice for many people is to relax, relax, relax. (Yes, counterintuitive when the problem is an unduly relaxed penis, I know.) But, if you can do that, your blood, blood vessels and penis will do the rest.

Part two: Your semen

The science of your semen

From a medical perspective, your semen packs a pretty incredible punch. Within the 2 to 5ml of semen (AKA your ejaculate) that you yield every time you ejaculate, there contains around 20 million spermatozoa (your moving sperm), each roughly 50 millionths of a metre long. If you can’t picture this, just think back to your childhood when you stared at the tadpoles in your garden pond. That’s about the gist of it – except much, much smaller. Of course, your spermatozoa are not alone in your semen, having for company complex enzymes and fructose sugars that help your swimmers, well, swim and survive for longer.

You have multiple factories for semen

The production factory of your semen is on an industrial scale, constructed from multiple locations in your genitourinary system. First there are the stars of the show, your spermatozoa, which are naturally synthesised in the seminiferous tubules within your testicles. During the ejaculation process, these then pass through your ejaculatory ducts and blend with fluids from your prostate, seminal vesicles and bulbourethral glands. This melting pot forms your semen as it arrives via urethral meatus (the end of your penis) to the cold light of day – or night.

How to improve ejaculate

Unsurprisingly, there is a tendency to want more volume – a strange primal desire, given that medically there isn’t any association between ejaculate volume and fertility. And yet still these dissatisfactions with volume can have catastrophic knock on effects, linked with both relationship and performance anxieties.

Now, despite there being some unavoidable factors – your age (volume hits peak production around your early to mid-thirties) and the anatomy that your are born with (bigger seminal equipment will naturally yield more) – there are some some ways to help boost volume. But be warned, these may sound very familiar to the ones your just read about supporting stronger erections...

  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Eating a diet rich in antioxidants
  • Exercising (but not excessively)
  • Avoiding excess alcohol
  • Avoiding prolonged heat to genitals

The above is not rocket science. Like anything related to our health and wellbeing, the basics principles are the golden rules. Don’t stress too much about the niche rules where you’ll find for all the time and effort, the gains are very limited.

Ultimately above all else, common sense prevails: the surest way to a fuller ejaculate is to quite simply give yourself time to reload the barrel. Constantly ejaculating will make this impossible. So, pause, abstain for three days and take a look at the gains.

Now read:

Do you really need to exercise?

How to cope with social media

Are superfoods really all that super?

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