What Your Penis Says About Your Overall Health

Wet back of a black man, black skin texture with water dripping down his back, close-up

Did you know you can learn a lot about your body and how well it’s functioning, simply by paying attention to your penis?

It’s true. Often, the penis gets treated like it’s a completely independent body part, doing its own thing. But once you understand how erections connect to the rest of your body, you can make different choices to improve them.

Because the truth is, your penis reflects what’s happening further upstream. Any problems you’re having with your erection don’t start with the penis itself, they start with your heart and your hormones.

How to measure your erections

Not with a ruler! No, when you measure your erectile health with a smart penis ring, you can get a pretty good sense of what’s happening elsewhere in your body. From there, you can take steps to improve overall health, which will also improve your erections.

I like FirmTech’s TechRing* for this purpose, since you wear it at night, and it keeps track of nocturnal erections thanks to built-in sensors. It’s connected to an app that gives you insights on how many erections you had, how long they lasted, and if medications or changes in diet or lifestyle are impacting your erectile health. 

Improve your heart, improve your erections

When the penis gets erect, it engorges with blood. But how strong is your blood pumping? That’s a matter of cardiovascular health.

One of the easiest ways to tackle erection problems is to step up (or start) your fitness regimen. The goal here is to acclimate your body to increased blood flow, which also tones your arteries and veins. That’s because getting erect requires blood to flow to your penis in the first place; staying erect requires your veins to compress and trap the blood inside. Here’s a crash course in how erections work.

Diet, lifestyle and medications impact your erections

Your penis performance is also an indicator of other aspects of health – not just your fitness levels. 

Smoking, for example, hampers circulation to all parts of the body (including the penis). So even if you work out, you’re going to have a harder time getting and staying erect if you’ve got a cigarette habit. 

Certain medications also affect your blood circulation (blood pressure medications, diuretics, etc.) while antidepressants – especially SSRIs – change your body’s hormone and neurotransmitter balance. That makes it harder to get aroused, and get an erection at all. 

Finally, your diet plays a big role in your erections. Take red meat, which has a lot of saturated fat. This causes fatty buildup in your blood vessels, making it harder for blood to flow to the penis. Increasing plant-based fiber helps your erections, and there’s a growing body of evidence to suggest that a plant-based diet helps sexual response, arousal, and erectile health. 

How hormone levels affect your erections 

Several hormones work together to orchestrate an erection. These include testosterone, which decreases with age, and it’s the main hormone you probably think about when you consider erectile health.

But there are other hormones that can be knocked off-balance, and when they do, your erection pays the price. Prolactin and thyroid hormone are two of the biggest culprits. And because your body is an interconnected system, did you know alcohol can suppress hormone production – including testosterone? 

The best way to get a full picture of your hormone levels is to get a blood test at the doctor’s office. If erection issues are a concern, let your doctor know in advance so they can look at the specific hormones involved.  

Have healthier, smarter sex

Understanding your body and prioritizing your health is one of the pillars of sexual intelligence. Sex IQ isn’t an estimate of how much you know about sex, rather it’s a way of understanding where you are sexually at any given moment and taking note of how that changes over time. I dive deep into all of the five pillars: embodiment, health, collaboration, self-knowledge, and self-acceptance in my book, Smart Sex: How to Boost Your Sex IQ and Own Your Pleasure. Because everyone deserves an amazing sex life and it’s my mission to show you how to own your sexual pleasure: unapologetically and authentically.

Want more? Sign up for my newsletter and get sex secrets on the regular.

*Use code “EMILY20” for 20% off your order at FirmTech