Let’s bust a common myth: good sex is still possible if you battle erectile dysfunction (ED). And while those who experience ED may feel embarrassed or ashamed, it’s more common than you think
Experiencing erectile dysfunction doesn’t mean that your body is broken or that you’re somehow less of a man (if that’s how you identify).
People of any gender who have penises can have ED. However, erectile dysfunction can feel particularly emasculating for some. But it shouldn’t! Masculinity is about much more than just sex.
Regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation, or anything else, most people have encountered difficulties in the bedroom at some point.
The good news is that there are ways to get your sex life back on track. From lifestyle changes to medical interventions to superior sex positions, there are many ways you can treat or cope with ED.
What is Erectile Dysfunction?
Erectile dysfunction is the inability to get or maintain an erection firm enough for sex. Occasional ED is entirely normal. Still, frequent ED may be the result of underlying health complications.
It’s pretty common for people with penises to have difficulty achieving or keeping an erection now and then. If you have trouble gaining an erection more than 50% of the time, you may want to seek treatment for ED.
Although the name may suggest otherwise, erectile dysfunction isn’t only about erections. People dealing with ED may also experience premature or delayed ejaculation, inability to ejaculate, or become less interested in sex.
One in 10 adult males experience long-term erectile dysfunction, but many treatment options are available depending on what’s causing your ED.
What Causes Erectile Dysfunction?
Many people associate erectile dysfunction with old age and higher weights, but that isn’t the whole story. It’s less about your actual age and weight and more so about other risk factors often associated with older age and higher weights.
For example, losing weight may seem to alleviate your ED, but the lifestyle changes you’ve made to lose weight — like eating well or getting physical activity — may be the real heroes.
Truthfully, erectile dysfunction can affect anyone with a penis at any weight or age.
In fact, 26% of men under age 40 experience ED, according to the Journal of Sexual Medicine.
ED doesn’t mean that there’s anything inherently wrong with you or your partner. However, it is often a sign that something else may be going on in your body or environment.
Erectile dysfunction may be caused by one or more of the following:
- Psychological issues (stress, anxiety, depression, PTSD)
- Cardiovascular disease, hypertension (high blood pressure), high cholesterol
- Kidney disease
- Alcohol, drug, or tobacco use
- Certain prescription medications, including ones used to treat hypertension or depression
- Pelvic injury
- Hormone imbalances (low testosterone)
- Sleep disorders
- Relationship problems
- Treatments for prostate issues
- Health conditions including multiple sclerosis (MS) or Parkinson’s disease
- Peyronie’s disease
As you can see, there are many causes of erectile dysfunction. If you’re experiencing frequent ED, you may want to talk to a healthcare professional.
How to Avoid Erectile Dysfunction
Erectile dysfunction is often a sign of another health issue. Adopting healthy lifestyle habits can prevent you from developing conditions that may lead to ED in the future.
Since erections rely on increased blood flow to your penis, many ED prevention measures also support cardiovascular health. Following a heart-healthy lifestyle can help you prevent ED from developing.
On top of that, boosting testosterone and navigating mental health issues can make a big difference in avoiding erectile dysfunction.
Here are some suggestions:
- Exercise regularly. Regular aerobic exercise (e.g., swimming, running) gets your blood pumping, minimizing your risk of developing ED. Moderate to vigorous physical activity may also boost your testosterone levels, while calming practices like yoga may help relax your body and mind. Both of these can help support and prevent erectile dysfunction. Don’t forget Kegels to strengthen your pelvic floor, too!
- Work on stress reduction. We experience stress all the time, and this is a risk factor for erectile dysfunction. Seek ways to reduce the stress in your life, possibly by taking up a creative hobby, getting regular exercise, or talking to a therapist.
- Minimize alcohol, tobacco, and drug use. Drinking, smoking, and using drugs may all negatively affect your heart health. It may be helpful to eliminate or minimize your use.
- Closely monitor heart disease and diabetes. If you live with or are at risk for hypertension, high cholesterol, heart disease, or diabetes, work with a doctor to create a treatment plan. Don’t forget to attend regular checkups too. Keeping cardiovascular issues under control can prevent the onset of ED.
- Eat a balanced diet. Eating balanced meals can help reduce your risk of ED. Focus on consuming plenty of fruit, vegetables, and whole grains. Certain nutrients in foods like dark chocolate, nuts, and garlic may help too. Aim to limit full-fat dairy, red meat, and excess sugar.
- Seek professional help for mental health concerns. Mental or emotional distress makes it difficult to relax, which may play a role in ED. Talking with a therapist can help you identify and cope with stressors before impacting you in the bedroom. If your romantic relationship is causing some troubles, try couples counseling!
Keeping up with your overall health not only benefits you in the bedroom but is also essential for your general well-being.
Best Sex Positions for Men with Erectile Dysfunction
So, what are the best sex positions for those experiencing ED? Some say anything that allows for strong blood flow to your penis.
Various positions may have you in uncomfortable placements or may be taxing on the rest of your body. So instead, focusing on positions where you can keep the blood flow to your genitals strong and uninterrupted seems beneficial.
While this logic makes sense, it might not be accurate. Studies have shown that having your partner on top versus any other position doesn’t affect blood flow or heart rate.
However, if you want to conduct your own experiments, try these commonly recommended positions for ED.
Riding, commonly called “cowgirl,” though this position can be with partners of any gender, involves laying on your back while your partner straddles you. It’s a minimally labor-intensive position for you as your partner does most of the “work.”
While the blood-flow theory may be a myth, this low-stress position can help you relax, which can help relieve ED.
However, you won’t be able to control the depth of speed.
Lotus involves you sitting cross-legged while your partner straddles you, face-to-face, often holding one another. This position is thought to be energetically powerful. Looking into each others’ eyes, feeling your partner’s embrace and closeness may foster an intimate environment and sense of security.
Depending on your comfort levels and relationship with your partner, you may prefer a position that feels more casual and less intimate.
Spooning is often associated with sleepy morning sex. It’s low-fuss, comfortable, and there’s tons of skin-on-skin contact. Best of all, you get to control the depth. So play around with inserting as much of your penis as is possible and comfortable for you.
Remember that it may take some time and adjustments to find the right angle, depth, and rhythm to ensure you and your partner feel good.
4. Oral Sex
If your erection isn’t hard enough for penetration, oral sex always works too! You can enjoy a stress-free position where you get to sit back and enjoy the sensations without worry. It’s all about you here — but feel free to return the act. Better yet, try 69ing.
5. Solo or Mutual Masturbation
Like with oral sex, mutual masturbation is a stress-free position where you don’t have to worry about your hardness or finishing too early. Instead, you can take turns manually stimulating your partner or masturbating yourself as they watch. It’s all in your hands — literally.
If being with a partner is too stressful, set aside time for some solo play. Explore your body and learn what makes you feel good. You can even engage with your partner through a phone call, pictures, or video chat if you’re comfortable.
6. Whatever Makes You Feel Good
It’s essential to keep in mind that our sexual experiences and preferences are highly individual. So if everyone swears that doggy style is the best sex position, but it doesn’t feel good for you, don’t do it.
Pay attention to which positions give you the most pleasure. And don’t forget that your preferences may change with time or with various partners. So explore your sexuality and discover what makes you feel best.
Tips for Better Sex with Erectile Dysfunction
Like we said, good sex is still possible with erectile dysfunction. Try out some of these tips to improve your experience in the bedroom:
- Feeling safe with your partner. Regardless of ED, sex is a vulnerable activity. It’s crucial that you feel safe, comfortable, and enthusiastically consensual in any sexual setting. If you aren’t comfortable, that may negatively affect your arousal and ED. Consider if there are ways you can make this situation feel safer and communicate this to your partner.
- Engage in other types of sex. When we hear “sex,” we often think of penetrative sex only. But if penetration isn’t an option, that doesn’t mean it’s game over. Oral sex (blowjobs), manual stimulation (handjobs), and anal sex (prostate play) are fun activities too! You can also explore other erogenous zones or play with different sex toys. Remember: orgasms don’t have to be the goal of sex either. Focus on pleasure instead.
- Try a penis ring. Penis rings, also known as ED rings, are sex accessories placed around the penis (and sometimes testicles) to help harden and maintain an erection. These could intensify sensations and may make penetration possible if it wasn’t before. Choose a vibrating cock ring for even more fun!
- Communicate with your partner. You know your body better than anyone else. Tell your partner what makes you feel good, what turns you on, and what you aren’t into. You also may choose to talk about ED outside of the bedroom, so you feel less vulnerable in the moment. Keep checking in during sex, and decompress after as well. Great communication often leads to even greater sex.
- Use a vacuum pump. Vacuum pump toys increase blood flow to the penis with suction to help maintain and strengthen erections temporarily. Some of these toys may also double as penis masturbators to provide extra pleasure.
- Give yourself time. Some people love the thrill of a quickie, but it can be stressful to perform under a time crunch. Give yourself enough time to relax and get in the mood without being rushed. Don’t be afraid to schedule this ahead of time — it’s no less fun than spontaneous sex.
- Change it up. If sex feels like the same old routine, it may start to feel a bit bland. So, change it up! Do you have any unexplored fantasies you’d like to channel? Are you interested in adding toys? Trying prostate play? Changing locations? Or swapping roles in the bedroom? There’s so much out there!
- Ask your doctor about treatments. Talking to a healthcare professional about treatment options can, of course, improve your experience with ED. Potential options may include seeing a pelvic floor physiotherapist, trying talk therapy, trying a prescribed medication such as Viagra or testosterone therapy, supplements, massage, and more.
Anyone with a penis can experience erectile dysfunction at any age for many reasons — and it’s more common than many people realize. As a result, there isn’t one best sex position for those dealing with ED. Instead, focus on what makes you and your partner feel good at that moment.