Want to improve your sexual function? These exercises can help you get better erections, and there are links to specific apps designed for home practice
Erectile dysfunction (ED) is the most common cause of male sexual dysfunction, affecting as many as 350 million men of different ages worldwide. Moreover, it is currently estimated that at least 1 out of 10 men is expected to suffer from the problem at some point in his life. And although the prevalence of ED increases with age, it doesn’t mean younger men are immune to the problem. In fact, according to studies, 10-25% of men under 40 suffer from ED.
Why does it happen? Although there can be various reasons for that, it could be generally said that sexual health is directly correlated to overall health. One study showed, for example, that 44% of the men who suffer from ED experience this problem due to underlying chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, high blood lipid levels, and more.
For this reason, apart from symptom-specific treatments, the more comprehensive therapeutic approach usually incorporates lifestyle changes that address the root cause of the problem. And this is precisely where physical activity can build into your daily life, with certain professionals claiming that various exercises can promote better blood flow and strengthen muscle tissues associated with erectile function. Preliminary studies likewise indicate that different types of exercises may help in cases of erectile dysfunction. However, this field of research is still in its infancy, and more research is needed to determine whether physical activity is actually effective for ED as well as the degree of its effectiveness.
Here is a review of the different exercises with links to apps for home practice.
These types of exercises are designed for strengthening the pelvic floor muscles – a group of muscles that stretch from the pubis bone at the front to the tail bone (the coccyx) at the back and from one sitting bone to the other (side to side).
Professionals in this field claim that exercises that strengthen the pelvic floor muscles can help men who are coping with erectile dysfunction, as these muscles have a central role in improving blood flow to the penis and maintaining a hard erection. A preliminary UK study found that pelvic exercises helped 40% of men with ED regain normal erectile function, and they likewise helped an additional 33.5% to improve erectile function significantly.
Illustration 1- Pelvic floor muscles. Taken from – https://www.continence.org.au/who-it-affects/men/male-pelvic-floor-muscles
Strengthening the Ischiocavernosus muscles (erector penis): The roots of the erectile bodies, called crura, are located at the base of the penis with the ischiocavernosus muscles surrounding them. During an erection, when the penile bodies fill with blood, these muscles contract and press the crura, preventing blood from flowing backward from the erectile bodies. In that manner, the ischiocavernosus muscles help maintain a firm erection during sexual activity.
Illustration 2– the Ischiocavernosus muscles surround the crura at the base of the penis, thereby preventing blood backflow from the erectile bodies in the penile shaft. Taken from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ischiocavernosus_muscle
Strengthening the bulbospongiosus muscles: these muscles are located at the perineum. They help maintain a firm erection by pressing the erectile tissues at the base of the penis and by preventing penile blood drainage through the dorsal vein. These muscles are likewise responsible for contractions during orgasm and ejaculation and for expelling semen residue out of the urethra.
Illustration 3 – the bulbospongiosus muscles. Taken from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ischiocavernosus_muscle
Kegel Exercises – the basic: the simplest way to locate the pelvic floor muscles is by stopping the urine stream several times in the middle of urination. The muscles we clench to do this are the pelvic floor muscles.
Squeeze these muscles and hold for 5 seconds, then relax. Repeat this exercise 10-20 times, 2-3 times daily. It is recommended to perform this exercise in different positions, including lying down with the knees up, sitting on a chair, and standing up. Another way is squeezing the buttocks muscle – just as when we want to avoid a bowel movement.
Kegel exercises apps for men:
|Kegel Exercises for Men||Dr. Kegel: For Men’s Health|
Pilates is a system of exercises in which one of its main goals is to strengthen the core postural muscles – from which all movements stem. Enhancing core muscles challenges a person to use the pelvic floor muscles during ‘functional movement,’ and according to certain pilates experts, this contributes to tightening the pelvic muscles, improving erectile function, and even enhancing sexual pleasure. The Pilates repertoire includes over 600 exercises and variations.
Pilates exercise to try:
The pelvic tilt:
- Lie down with the knees bent, the arms by the sides, and the feet flat on the floor. Keep the spine in a position allowing a small space between the middle of the back and the floor.
- Tilt the pelvis (the tailbone) upward (toward the belly button) while pressing the back flat against the floor.
- Hold in this position for 3-5 seconds, and release. Repeat this exercise 10-12 times.
A Pilates app for men:
Pilates Anytime Workouts
Yoga focuses on reaching balance and harmony between the mind and body, connecting to higher consciousness to help enhance mental well-being. It combines specific physical postures (asanas), breathwork, and meditation. A few small clinical studies showed that practicing yoga may improve various measures of sexual function, including sexual desire, satisfaction, performance, erectile function, ejaculatory control, and orgasm. In another study, twice-weekly yoga improved erectile function in men with prostate cancer treatment-related ED compared to men who did not practice yoga.
While it has not yet been scientifically established that yoga practice supports erectile function, certain experts think that through increasing blood flow and improving cardio-respiratory fitness, together with psychological effects like stress reduction, yoga can improve erectile function. In addition, regular yoga practice has also been shown to improve overall health, which may further support erectile function.
A yoga exercise to try:
The eagle posture (Garudasana)
Stand with your knees slightly bent.
Ground down on your right foot and cross your left leg over your right thigh. Hold for five breaths.
Repeat the same on the opposite side.
Exercise benefits: strengthening the pelvic muscles and increasing blood flow to the sex organ.
The eagle posture for improving erectile function. Taken from: https://blog.alomoves.com/movement/how-to-do-eagle-pose-yoga-tutorial
A yoga app for improving male sexual health:
Working on body muscles beyond the pelvic floor ones may also help improve symptoms of erectile dysfunction, as indicated by a preliminary study held among men with ED following a heart attack.
As mentioned, problems with penile blood flow often cause ED, and it is well known that diseases such as obesity, diabetes, vascular disease, and high blood lipid levels can undermine blood flow and result in ED. Therefore, adding aerobic exercise to the daily routine can improve overall health and, consequently, erectile function. For example, a brisk walk for 30 minutes a day, 3-4 times a week, may improve cardiovascular health in a way that will positively affect ED as well. The same applies to other forms of aerobic activity, such as swimming, jogging, and cycling.
An app with various types of aerobic exercises designed for ED:
Mindfulness can be defined as receptive attention and awareness of what is taking place, both internally and externally, in the present moment. Concerning sexual activity, mindfulness is about staying in the present moment while looking at each sexual encounter with a partner as a new and unique experience. It means experiencing a partner using all five senses while being in the present moment, without any destruction – which requires concentration and focus on each specific sensation: the touch of a partner’s skin, the smell of their hair, and the sound of their voice. The result is a highly pleasurable experience, with a reduction in stress levels and an increase in the level of relaxation – which in itself may aid achieving and maintaining a hard erection throughout the sexual activity.
In a study conducted in 2018, men with erection difficulties reported significant improvement in sexual function after practicing mindfulness meditation daily. However, more research is needed to scientifically validate these findings.
Links to mindfulness apps:
|Insight Timer – Meditation App||headspace|
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