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Having erections that are not as hard as you would like can be frustrating and embarrassing. Fortunately, there are things men can do or undo when they have erectile problems.

According to the senior surgeon and professor of surgery, Harvard Medical School, Dr. Michael O’Leary, the main cause of erectile problems is vascular ― blood flow issues. And though blood flow issues are more common in older men, there are certain habits that younger men also engage in that have major effects on their blood circulation, especially to the penile area. Let’s get to it.

1. The role of poor diet in erection

Just like any performance issue in your body, the kind of erection you get has a lot to do with the kind of food you eat. Meaning, just making simple dietary changes could lead to harder erections.

Excessive consumption of fatty, processed, and fried foods can lead to obesity and increase circulatory issues. As Dr. Neal Barnard explained, the cholesterol and saturated fats in foods such as meat, cheese, etc. narrow the arteries throughout the body. This is why ED might be the least of your problems if you have a bad diet. The same foods that lead to narrow arteries in the heart, causing various heart diseases also causes low blood flow to the penis. In the words of Dr. Barnard,

“Men with erectile dysfunction are 60% more likely than other men to have a heart attack, stroke, or any heart related hospitalization. In severe cases, even a heart related death.”

The good news, as Dr. Barnard explained, is that when you use low-fat plant-based diets such as vegetables, fruits, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, whole grains, etc., one of the most common side effects is that ED improves and often goes away. Why?

Just as a healthy diet can reverse artery blockages in the heart, it can do the same thing for the rest of the body, including the penile area.

Related read: 6 Tiny Habits That Can Harm Your Testosterone Level

2. How excess alcohol affects  erection

You don’t have to cut out your alcohol intake totally, but you sure need to make sure you’re only using it in moderation. Here’s why:

Alcohol is a depressant. It dampens your mood. This in turn makes it decrease your sex drive, making it harder to achieve an erection. Furthermore, drinking too much alcohol above can decrease your sexual sensitivity. As Dr. David Thomas, a mental health counselor said,

“Alcohol is a sedative. And in order to maintain an erection (or the blood flow to the penis), the brain has to be stimulated through thought as well as through physical sensation. And when this stimulation is minimized as a result of the intoxicating and numbing effect of alcohol, it can create a dysfunction.”

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