Exercise for Erections??
I frequently talk to my patients about maximizing any therapy they are participating in by doing absolutely everything that they are able to do to help recover full function. Some of my patients will have urinary leakage issues and we talk about what types of fluid they drink throughout the day. I do this to make sure that nothing they drink is actually irritating the bladder. “But, Erin, I have always had 4 cups of coffee and 2 sodas a day!” “Ok,” I say, “but if we want to help you maximize all the work you are doing to regain control over your bladder, you may want to consider drinking more water.” Truthfully some listen and some don’t and that’s ok, it is truly their decision. All I can do is provide information. And I want to tell you why exercise is important for erections.
Cardiac health and erections
In the last 10 years or so, the medical community has begun to recognize that Erectile Dysfunction (ED) may one of the first signs of cardiovascular disease. Heart disease is often a vascular disease -- meaning your arteries may not be allowing sufficient blood flow to your heart necessary for good cardiac function. Well, the penis getting erect is a lot about blood flow. We know exercise is important for cardiovascular disease. Have any friends doing cardiac rehab after a heart attack?
There is quite a bit of anatomy and chemistry (not just the attraction to the other person type of chemistry) that goes into an erection. The shaft of the penis is composed of three long chambers. When a man becomes aroused, dopamine is released and a chemical cascade begins that allows the chambers to fill up with blood. The pressure from the blood creates a kind of pressure that prohibits the blood from draining back out. That is, until orgasm, then another cascade of chemical reactions allows a release and the blood can now drain out of the penis.
How can exercise help?
So, how is this related to exercise? One of the primary chemicals that helps to run the show is called Nitric Oxide. This chemical allows the blood vessels to relax to allow blood flow into the penis. Guess what, during exercise Nitric Oxide is produced at higher rates to allow blood flow to muscles and other tissues. This is good for erections.
I want you to understand that nerve healing must occur for recovery of spontaneous erections and I am not saying that exercise will cure anyone but you may gain some benefit and perhaps speed recovery or help your erections to be just a bit firmer or longer lasting.
Many benefits of exercise
Again, I am a big believer in maximizing benefit by applying multiple interventions that pose little risk. The benefits of exercise are so numerous, we should be writing "Exercise 4x/week for 30-45 minutes" on a prescription sheet and giving it to almost every person. In addition to the possibility of stronger erections, exercise will help alleviate fatigue, help you sleep more soundly, and maybe help you to be in a better mood -- which is also good for sexual activity.
Author Note: if you are treating your prostate cancer with ADT (androgen deprivation therapy), exercise is especially important for you. There are some specifics that I will discuss in future articles. Walk, jog, swim, do yoga. Join the Y. Always be cautious. Talk to your doctor about what type of exercise would be best for you.
Have you gone to a pelvic floor physical therapist?