I can’t think of a male patient in my practice that wouldn’t love to improve his sexual performance. Even the most self-described Don Juan wouldn’t turn down some helpful advice on how to get better in bed. So, for all the gentlemen in the house, it’s your lucky day. As a doctor specializing in male sexual health, I’m going to share some of my expert advice.
1. Get Moving and Stay Moving
Keeping your heart healthy is an excellent way to last longer and perform stronger when it comes to sex. For best results, create an exercise routine that focuses on cardiovascular health. A healthy heart is key to better sex. Just 30 minutes a day of cardiovascular exercise can improve your circulation which is critical to achieving longer, stronger erections. This type of training also increases your libido.
And while you’re exercising, don’t forget your pelvic floor. Many men have heard of Kegels, but they may not know how to do them correctly. Kegels are exercises that can strengthen your pelvic floor and improve coordination, which can not only improve erectile function, but it can also help you control your ejaculations. For a dramatic difference in your sexual performance, consider pelvic floor physical therapy. Many of my patients find it to be life-changing!
2. Eat Like Your Penis Depends On It
You know that the food you consume in a day can significantly impact your health. But what you may not know is that it can also significantly impact your ability to perform in bed. Eating a Mediterranean diet, which consists of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, olive oil and walnuts can reduce the instances of erectile dysfunction in certain men (Esposito, Maiorino). Reducing the intake of calories to achieve a 10% loss or more in total body weight can improve sexual function for obese men who experience erectile dysfunction. In addition, a diet that’s low in fat and high in protein with a reduction in total carbohydrates can reduce systemic inflammation and can cause a quick improvement in urinary, sexual and endothelial function (Khoo).
These studies show that what’s good for your heart is good for your penis. So, the next time you open your refrigerator, take a minute to consider what you’re about to put in your body. What you eat has consequences for your sexual performance – good and bad.
3. Grab a Cup of Coffee
If you’re the type who can’t function without your morning cup of joe, don’t worry. Not only can coffee help you focus and get through the rigors of your day, but it can also help you supercharge your performance in bed. According to a study done in 2015, researchers found that consuming caffeine on a daily basis, especially two to three cups, reduced the chances of erectile dysfunction (Lopez). So, when you’re running out of the house in the morning, don’t forget your travel mug – your penis will thank you.
4. Reduce Stress Levels
We live in a world where stress and anxiety are constant. This daily stress can have negative effects on everything from our mood to our sex lives. Chronic stress causes our cortisol levels to elevate, which can cause an increased risk of anxiety, depression, weight gain, heart disease, memory loss, difficulty sleeping and cognitive dysfunction. As you might have guessed, cortisol can also decrease your sexual desire. Not only does it kill your libido, but it also decreases your testosterone levels and reduces blood flow to your penis. Stress can also make it harder to get hard and it can cause difficulty achieving an orgasm.
Clearly, elevated stress levels sabotage your sexual performance. So, how do you reduce stress? Exercise is one of the best ways to reduce stress and like we already mentioned, it helps to improve your sexual performance in a number of ways. Practicing mindfulness and meditation are also great ways to keep your cool and calm your nerves. Other options, such as getting a massage, practicing deep breathing and listening to your favorite music can all help to reduce stress, keeping cortisol low and your sexual function high.
5. Get Some ZZZs
A bad night’s sleep is bad for your health in a number of ways. Good sleep keeps your immune system healthy, controls weight gain, helps you stay sharp mentally and helps you produce testosterone (Leproult). There are several common sleep disorders that have been associated with erectile dysfunction, including insomnia, shift work disorder, obstructive sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome. Sleep ranks right up there with diet and exercise and is just as crucial for your sexual health as it is your overall health.
6. Say Goodbye to Bad Habits
When it comes to unwinding after a long day, many of us tend to pick our poison. Unfortunately, the most common vices often have more risks than benefits. You may have heard that a modest amount of alcohol can have health benefits, and some studies suggest that’s true. However, regular excessive alcohol consumption can have the opposite effect, and when it comes to sexual performance, it can decrease sexual function by prolonging refractory time and making it harder to get and maintain an erection.
If your vice of choice is marijuana, you could be in trouble as well. Data on marijuana and sexual function are mixed but delayed ejaculation and orgasm, erectile dysfunction and hormonal imbalances have been attributed to marijuana use. If you want to improve your sex game, you may want to try cutting back on your marijuana intake and see how it affects your performance.
Last but not least, some stimulates, including cigarettes, reduce blood flow to the penis causing impotence. Quitting smoking has been shown to improve erectile function, so you should definitely think twice before lighting up.
7. Soak Up Some Rays
Did you know that sunlight is our primary source of vitamin D? Because most of us spend our days indoors and wisely protect our skin against sun damage when we venture outside, many of us are deficient in vitamin D, and low levels of vitamin D have been associated with lower levels of testosterone. Sun exposure has been linked to improved libido while vitamin D supplementation has been linked to improved erectile function. If you want an easy way to boost your sex drive and strengthen your overall sexual performance, get outside for at least 30 minutes per day or consider taking a daily vitamin D supplement.
8. Practice Makes Perfect
Regular masturbation is not only pleasurable, it’s also good practice for partnered sex. If you find yourself either coming too quickly or taking too long to ejaculate, you can use masturbation as a way to practice controlling your climax. Not only can you gain better control by masturbating, but you can also figure out what you like so that you can communicate your wants and needs to your partner. Learning and practicing what feels good on your own will only enhance your performance come game time.
9. Involve Your Partner
Communication is key when it comes to maximizing your sexual experience. After all, it takes two to tango. Focusing on your partner will not only make them feel good, but it will also help you to feel more fulfilled as well. And the opposite is also true. Allow yourself to feel safe with your partner and get creative. Together you can test out new and novel sexual activity that may have seemed out of the question before. There are always new things you can try. Discover different positions or try switching up your traditional sexual dynamics. Maybe you can incorporate a sensual massage or explore each other’s G-spots. When you involve your partner, you’ll find that there are endless possibilities and ample opportunities for a much more satisfying experience.
10. See a Dentist
Bet you weren’t expecting that one. As strange as it sounds, taking care of your teeth and gums can be good for your sex life. There have been a number of studies that show a link between periodontal disease and erectile dysfunction. One randomized controlled trial even suggests that periodontal treatment can improve erectile function when compared to no treatment (Eltas). So, if your dentist tells you to floss more at your next visit, take their advice seriously.
11. Consult a Sexpert
You may need input from a sexual health expert to optimize your sexual performance. If you’ve tried all the advice above but you have a problem that doesn’t seem to get better, seek out help. Sometimes erectile dysfunction can signal a bigger underlying health problem like cardiovascular disease. Sometimes a lack of sex drive can be caused by a hormonal issue or a mental health issue like depression or anxiety. It’s OK to ask for help. Speaking up about your problem is your first step.
You may also need to think outside the box when it comes to seeking out answers for your sexual performance problems. Not all doctors or health care providers are well versed in sexual wellness so do your research. If you do voice your concerns and you feel like they’ve fallen on deaf ears, then by all means, seek help elsewhere. You may have to advocate for yourself in order to get the answers you need.
Keep in mind that sexual health and sexual performance are complicated issues and solving them may require input from more than one expert. With my patients, I have found that those who do best are the ones who consider their sexual problem from all angles and remain open to tackling the issue from all directions. Optimizing your sexual health and improving your sexual function can often take a village.
Esposito K, Ciotola M, Giugliano F, et al. Mediterranean diet improves erectile function in subjects with the metabolic syndrome. Int J Impot Res. 2006;18(4):405-410. doi:10.1038/sj.ijir.3901447
Maiorino MI, Bellastella G, Caputo M, et al. Effects of Mediterranean diet on sexual function in people with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes: The MÈDITA trial. J Diabetes Complications. 2016;30(8):1519-1524. doi:10.1016/j.jdiacomp.2016.08.007
Khoo J, Piantadosi C, Duncan R, et al. Comparing effects of a low-energy diet and a high-protein low-fat diet on sexual and endothelial function, urinary tract symptoms, and inflammation in obese diabetic men. J Sex Med. 2011;8(10):2868-2875. doi:10.1111/j.1743-6109.2011.02417.x
Lopez, D. S., Wang, R., Tsilidis, K. K., Zhu, H., Daniel, C. R., Sinha, A., & Canfield, S. (2015). Role of Caffeine Intake on Erectile Dysfunction in US Men: Results from NHANES 2001-2004. PloS one, 10(4), e0123547.
Cho, J. W., & Duffy, J. F. (2019). Sleep, Sleep Disorders, and Sexual Dysfunction. The world journal of men’s health, 37(3), 261–275.
Eltas A, Oguz F, Uslu MO, Akdemir E. The effect of periodontal treatment in improving erectile dysfunction: a randomized controlled trial. J Clin Periodontol. 2013;40(2):148-154. doi:10.1111/jcpe.12039