How Does Erectile Dysfunction Happen?

How Does Erectile Dysfunction Happen?

He’s been there for you since birth. He grew up with you. He was there for your first crush, your first break-up, and your first orgasm. He’s your life-long companion, and your closest pal. He’s your penis.

Your mini me may be your favourite appendage, but how much do you really know about him? From how it works to health matters, keep reading for the breakdown of everything you need to know about your package.


How Your Penis Works

Your penis does a lot for you. It isn’t just the out pipe of your urinary tract, but you know that. It’s part of a complex sexual system, and sometimes you wonder how it all works. Well, here’s a summary.

Often, you can’t help but get hard. When your little buddy wakes up, there’s little you can do to stop him, and that’s all because a lot of getting an erection is down to reflexes. Reflexive erections happen without any stimulation or thoughts about sex. You can thank them for many embarrassing situations, like that time you needed to stand for your Afrikaans mondeling and your little friend wanted to join.

Psychogenic erections happen when you think about sex or are faced with a sexual situation. These erections are part of a long chain of bodily reactions. First, your brain picks up a sensory que that gets you aroused. When your brain gets a sensory signal that excites it, it sends a message to the blood vessels of the penis to relax their muscles. This allows blood to rush into it faster than it can leave, resulting in an erection.

If you go ahead and use the erection for pleasure, the physical stimulus sets another chain of reactions in motion. It all ends with ejaculation, caused by peristalsis, the same muscular movement that helps you swallow and digest food.


So How Long Can You Stay Hard?

A man can get erections throughout the day. In fact, the average man gets five erections while he sleeps, (these are called nocturnal erections, and are responsible for morning glory) each lasting between 20 and 35 minutes.

How long your erections last comes down to a bunch of factors including:

  • Arousal
  • Mental state & emotions
  • Stimulation
  • Age
  • Genetics
  • Health & fitness
  • Medication
  • What sexual activity you’re taking part in – masturbation or sex with a partner


If you’re concerned that your erections aren’t lasting long enough to do the job, you might have Erectile Dysfunction (ED), which can be a result of psychological factors like feelings of guilt, depression, and performance anxiety. ED can also be caused by physical factors like medication, injury, blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease, among others. If you suspect you may have ED, you can seek medical help without awkward waiting rooms and annoying queues with our simple online consultations and treatment plans.

It’s also possible to have an erection that lasts too long (and yes, it is actually a problem). Ultra-long-lasting erections can be caused by some medications, and they’re also a sign of a deeper health issue. If you have an erection lasting more than 4 hours, you should seek medical help urgently.


Erections And A Healthy Life

There’s a reason you feel elated and relaxed after an orgasm – it’s good for your health. Sex and masturbation lift your mood, boost libido, lower your blood pressure, and even reduce your risk of having a heart attack. Erections are linked to sex and pleasure, which make you a healthier and happier person.

But it goes both ways. If your body and/or mind aren’t in a good state, you may have problems getting an erection. Both mental and physical factors can inhibit your ability to get hard. Many things from stress, depression, grief, and low self-esteem to physical concerns like diabetes, obesity, hypertension, and simply getting older can make getting hard well, hard.

The good news is it doesn’t have to be that way. No matter the cause for your difficulty, there’s a personalised treatment that’ll do the trick. Keep reading for more on treatment options.


What Causes A Weak Erection?

Contrary to what you might think, ED isn’t never being able to get hard at all. It can also manifest as only getting weak erections.

But what’s a weak erection?

It’s when your erection isn’t firm enough to support penetration.

This can happen when you have health issues like high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, substance abuse, poor heart health, and sleep disorders, among other things. Sometimes weak erections are a simple side effect of growing old.

Mental wellbeing also plays an important part in getting strong erections. Battling with weak erections may be a sign of psychological factors like guilt, poor self-image, depression, performance anxiety and more.

The bottom line is weak erections can be caused by a range of things, and you’ll need a personal chat with a doctor to distinguish the culprit in your case. Today, thanks to the internet, you can do all that from the comfort of your computer.


At What Age Does Getting Hard Get Difficult?

Things slow down as you get older, but let’s be honest, you and your sex life don’t have to (and you shouldn’t 😉).

Getting old can make getting a firm, long-lasting erection difficult, which is a downer, we know. It also increases your refractory period, which is the period of time your body needs to recover after an orgasm before it can get another erection firm enough for another. In young men the refractory period is a few minutes, but as you get older, the wait gets longer. Eish 

So, when exactly does getting hard get tricky?

By the time a man turns 40, there’s a 40% chance he’ll have ED. This percentage increases by 10% per decade. Not good odds.


Treating Erectile Dysfunction

With so many potential causes for ED, treatment needs to be highly personalised. There’s a variety of treatment options for ED, ranging from psychological exercises to medication. Here’s the breakdown.

ED Medication

If poor circulation is the reason for your ED, PDE5 inhibitors will do the trick. Phosphodiesterase Type 5 inhibitors started out as medication for heart and circulation issues. Their effect on your little friend was originally a happy side effect. They include the old faithful Viagra, as well as Cialis and Adcirca, each of which has its own pros and cons, but you can learn more about that here.

But what do PDE5 inhibitors do exactly?

PDE5 is an enzyme in the walls of your blood vessels. Essentially, it tells the muscles in your blood vessels to contract or relax.

PDE5 inhibitors hinder the enzyme, which helps your blood vessels relax more readily. When you’re turned on, blood flows more easily into your penis, giving you an erection.

Psychological Treatment

Unfortunately, if your ED is psychological, there isn’t a pill for that. Psychological causes for ED include depression and anxiety, stress, low self-esteem, grief, and feelings of guilt.

If you’re struggling with your mental health, you’ll need to work through that before you can have a strong erection again. There’s no shame in getting help for your mental health, just like there’s no shame in going to a GP if you’re sick. The professionals are better qualified than us to help us get through what’s bothering us, and the same goes for what’s going on in our heads.

If performance anxiety due to premature ejaculation is the cause of your ED, there are techniques you can practice to build your endurance and last longer. You can read more about that here.


Final Thoughts

Your penis is a complex being. He’s as affected by your physical health and mental wellbeing as you are. And thanks to pharmaceutical advancements over the years, getting hard is getting easier. No matter if you’re a little too stressed out, working on a circulation problem, or simply getting old, satisfying, firm erections are an achievable thing for you. And knowing a little more about your penis makes all the difference.


The articles published by &BAM are for informational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice. If you have any medical questions or concerns, you should contact your doctor.