While healthy blood flow is essential to rock-hard erections, other physical and mental health factors play a role in good penis functionality.
If you’re stressed out from work or poor relationships, suffering from depression, addicted to alcohol or drugs, or woefully overweight and out of shape, that miraculous mechanical wonder between your legs won’t work as well as it could.
Fortunately, there’s much you can do to keep your member in good standing so you can still have sex well into your 80s—and maybe even beyond. How’s that for incentive to shape up? Do your private parts a favor.
4. Do a Ball Check
Testicular cancer strikes nearly 8,000 men a year, mostly young men between the ages of 15 and 40. When caught early enough, testicular cancer can be cured more than 95 percent of the time.
Left undetected, though, and it can spread to other parts of the body. Check in with your boys once a month.
Here’s the play-by-play from Men’s Health urology advisor Larry Lipshultz, M.D., chief of the division of male reproductive medicine at Baylor College of Medicine:
Step 1. Take a hot bath or shower. Warm water relaxes the muscles that pull the testicles up into your scrotum, allowing you to handle them more easily.
Step 2. Cup your scrotum. Feel both testicles at once. They may not be identical, but there shouldn’t be any dramatic difference in size.
Step 3. Gently examine each testicle individually with both hands. Place your index and middle fingers underneath and your thumbs on top of a testicle. Roll the testicle between your fingers around the entire surface for about 30 seconds using light pressure. Feel for lumps or bumps. Each testicle should feel smooth like a peeled hard boiled egg.
If you think you felt something, don’t panic. A lot of men mistake the epididymis, a soft tube located in the back of each testicle, for a bump. If you’re unsure or if you feel any other bumps, consult your doctor.
5. Go to Bed Earlier
Testosterone levels peak in the morning for men. So irregular sleep patterns, or getting fewer than 7 hours of sleep, can affect the quality of your sleep and your sexual health.
Poor sleep is also associated with many health issues that contribute to sexual problems including high blood pressure, sleep apnea, and diabetes.
Sleepiness is a national problem. A study of 8,000 adults by researchers from Stanford University found that 1 in 5 Americans suffers from chronic excessive sleepiness.
In men especially, stress can trigger the fight-or-flight response.
When that happens, your nervous system floods your body with stress hormones like adrenaline. Adrenaline spurs the heart to beat faster and your blood vessels to constrict so that blood is directed to where it’s needed most to deal with the crisis—your muscles, not your penis.
It doesn’t have to be an urgent stress to cause problems. Chronic low-level stress, like a difficult boss, looming deadlines, and fear of financial ruin can interfere with erections and sex drive. Fortunately, exercise, sleep, and a healthy diet can help to ease the stress response.