Sexual health can be a delicate subject to bring up in the bedroom, let alone anywhere else – even a doctor’s office.
That’s why we launched our men’s health campaign - to give a voice to some of the more personal issues faced by the male population. And whilst it’s something we all do, when it comes to sex and our health, most people tend to shy away from bringing up the topic.
But most sexual problems that affect men, like erectile dysfunction (ED), are actually quite common. ED afflicts more people than you may think. In fact, according to research by the Cleveland Clinic, one in ten men experience it on a long-term basis.
And, whilst physical issues like this are undoubtedly a major barrier to an enjoyable sex life, they aren’t the only reason why you may have lost your mojo in the bedroom.
Read on to find out how your health, mood and lifestyle could all be affecting the sexual aspects of your life.
What can affect a man’s sex drive?
Your physical health, mental health and lifestyle choices can all impact your ability to have, and enjoy, sex.
Here are just some of the reasons you could be experiencing problems in the bedroom:
Not getting enough sleep
Testosterone, the male sex hormone, encourages libido and erectile function. Because low testosterone levels are associated with a lack of sleep, not getting your 8 hours a night could be contributing to both of these issues.
Being physically inactive
Problems with your heart, high blood pressure and cholesterol can all cause ED.
A healthy heart is needed to pump blood to your penis. Cardio-based exercises (like walking or running) can improve both your overall fitness levels and ability to maintain an erection.
Specific exercises targeting your pelvic area - called kegel exercises - can also help improve blood pressure and flow to the penis by strengthening key muscles.
Stress can cause physical and psychological problems with the male reproductive system.
Stress narrows your arteries, making it difficult for blood to flow efficiently around the body - including to the penis, in some instances preventing an erection.
Stress related to your sexual performance may cause sexual performance anxiety too. Read our guide to mindfulness to help you clear your thoughts and stay relaxed.
Certain medications, ranging from antidepressants to antihistamines, can impact your ability to perform sexually.
If you’re worried about any side effects from your medication, talk to a doctor today.
Mental health problems
Mental health disorders, like depression, are known to affect your enjoyment in certain activities. And sex is no different, with less interest in it being a symptom of many mental health problems.
Your anxieties outside of the bedroom aren’t the only thing that could be holding you back. Insecurities feed sexual performance anxiety, and can be just as harmful as physical issues.
Do you suffer from sexual performance anxiety?
Worries that may lead to sexual performance anxiety include:
- Fear that you won’t satisfy your partner
- Being concerned about your body image
- Self-consciousness about the size of your penis
- Anxiety about premature ejaculation, or having the opposite problem and not being able to climax quickly or at all
- Having relationship problems that make it difficult to get close to your partner sexually
- Pressure to conceive upon having sex
You can boost your confidence in this area with a few lifestyle changes aimed at improving male sexual performance - physically and mentally.
Some worries, however, may be deep-rooted in your mindset, or be due to mental health disorders. Talk to a doctor to explore your options for feeling healthier and happier.
Find your mojo - ways to help increase your sex drive
Lifestyle changes to boost your libido
1. Get more sleep
Getting as little as five hours sleep a night?
This can reduce your testosterone levels by 10-15%. An easy problem to solve, start getting to bed earlier and you may start to see some positive side effects.
2. Boost your confidence
Easier said than done, but you can start by improving how you feel about yourself, your body and stamina by increasing your physical activity.
Find your exercise motivation to start boosting your confidence, and health.
3. Stop smoking
A study found that smoking regularly can decrease your sperm count by up to 24%.
Find out more information on quitting smoking with the help of our doctors.
4. Drink less
Abusing alcohol - or even the odd (but ill-advised) session of binge drinking - can cause erectile dysfunction. Stick to just a couple of drinks for better sexual, and overall, health.
Supplements to help increase your sexual desire
5. Vitamin D
Linked to increased sperm counts and motility, Vitamin D-rich foods could make you more fertile. These include:
- Egg yolks
- Orange juice
6. Vitamin E
A natural testosterone booster that could increase your stamina and sexual desire. Vitamin E-rich foods include:
Another great supplement to raise testosterone levels. Zinc is found in:
- Dark chocolate
- Pumpkin seeds
8. Omega 3
Omega 3 ups your dopamine levels - the hormone responsible for happiness and triggering arousal. Get your fix by eating:
- Oysters (the famous aphrodisiac!)
Foods that may improve sexual performance
Garlic’s active ingredient - allicin - has been found to reduce high blood pressure.
Adding some to your dinner a few times a week could help you see benefits.
We know how important getting our 5 a day is, but blackberries could have some other unexpected benefits.
These berries are packed with phytochemicals, something which has been linked to both enhanced libido and sexual endurance.
According to Texas A&M Fruit and Vegetable Improvement Center, watermelon can have similar effects on the body to those of Viagra.
When you snack on this fruit, your blood vessels begin to relax in a similar way to the effects of taking Viagra.
We asked our nutritionist Will Hawkins for his thoughts:
“I couldn’t agree more with all of the lifestyle changes mentioned here to boost your libido, and the nutrients and foods that help contribute to better overall sexual drive.
Did you know that the majority of hormone production is created in the gut?
This includes dopamine and testosterone - which are two key hormones that are vital for an enhanced sexual desire/libido. If we have an enhanced sexual desire and libido, it can be assumed that sexual stamina and endurance will also improve.
Additionally, these two hormones contribute to vasodilation, allowing greater blood flow around the body, and in this case, the penis.”
The foods mentioned above are some of the many ways we can look to improve our gut health. Check out this blog if you want to learn more about gut health.