When most people think about penis health, they think about sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and erectile dysfunction (ED).
While these conditions can certainly affect the health of your penis, penile health is about so much more than that.
There are many different things that can affect the health of your penis, including your hygiene practices, lifestyle changes, and any underlying health conditions.
Here’s what you need to know to keep your penis in tip-top shape.
What affects penis health?
Many different things can affect penis health. And by “penis health,” we mean:
- your ability to urinate comfortably
- your ability to get or maintain an erection
- your fertility
The following factors can affect the health of your penis:
As you age, you’re more likely to experience sexual dysfunctions like ED. This is partly because your testosterone level will naturally decline over time.
If you want to have sex without a condom, ensure that both you and your partners are tested regularly for STIs, or remain in a monogamous relationship with someone free of STIs.
Otherwise, correctly using a condom every time you have sex is the only way to reduce your risk.
Rough sex can also harm your penis. For example, pulling back the foreskin abruptly can tear it. Accidentally bending your erect penis can cause a traumatic penis fracture.
Some forms of medication can increase your chances of ED. Speak to a doctor or other healthcare provider if you think your medication is causing ED or other sexual dysfunction.
Practising good hygiene is essential for your health. Wash your penis and groin area often to keep it clean.
Poor hygiene can cause a build-up of smegma, an oily, malodorous, and irritating substance that is known to occur below the foreskin.
If smegma builds up, it can cause inflammation to the adjacent skin. This can be uncomfortable and can be a cause balanitis, a condition where the head of the penis becomes red and inflamed.
Even with a circumcised penis, less than ideal hygiene can lead to penile irritation and inflammation, including balanitis.
Penis health needs a holistic approach. In other words, taking care of all aspects of your general health is important for the health of your penis. This is especially important since a range of different health conditions can affect your fertility and penile health.
Eat a balanced diet
A balanced diet is key in helping you reduce your chances of developing diabetes and heart disease, both of which can cause ED.
One 2016 studyTrusted Source conducted among 25,096 subjects looked at the relationship between ED and flavonoids, which are mostly found in vegetables and fruit.
Researchers found that the subjects who regularly consumed flavonoids were less likely to develop ED.
Certain foods may also boost your testosterone levels and improve your fertility. This includes:
- spicy foods with capsaicin
Get regular exercise
Moderate physical activity can reduce your chances of ED.
Try exercising at least a few times a week — even a brisk walk every so often can improve your penile health.
Practice pelvic floor exercises
Pelvic floor exercises are often associated with vaginal health but they can be helpful for everyone.
These exercises can improve your ability to get and maintain an erection, as well as prevent dribble after urination.
A small 2005 study on 55 people with ED found that pelvic exercises helped 40 percent of participants regain normal erectile function.
An additional 35.5 percent reported that, although they hadn’t completely regained normal function, their overall erectile function did improve.
You can do basic Kegel exercises by squeezing the muscles you use to urinate. Squeeze for five seconds, relax, and repeat for 10 rounds. Eventually, work your way up to 20 reps. Do this two or three times per day.
Maintain a healthy weight
Maintaining a healthy weight can reduce your chances of diabetes, high cholesterol, and heart disease, all of which affect your penile health.
Practise stress management
Practising stress management is great for your overall health and the health of your penis.
Stress and anxiety can affect your sexual performance and fertility. Stress also increases your chances of developing cardiovascular disease, which can lead to ED.
Stress management techniques include:
Practice sleep hygiene
Sleep is important for your vascular health, which affects your ability to become erect.
There seems to be a link between obstructive sleep apnea and ED, possibly because sleep deprivation can lead to low testosterone and other hormonal imbalances.
Smoking cigarettes is strongly associated with ED.
A 2013 studyTrusted Source showed that this possibly is because smoking disrupts your heart’s autonomic function, which in turn leads to ED.
Smoking can also decrease your fertility.
Drink alcohol in moderation, if at all
As with tobacco, excessive drinking can cause a number of health problems, which can in turn affect your penis health.