Sex is an emotional, physical, and sensory experience, but sexual performance is dependent on physical processes. If you want to improve your performance in the bedroom, you would do well to begin by focusing on your heart. Why the heart? Because the heart is what pumps your blood, and erections are caused by increased blood flow to the penis. If you want to improve your vascular health (and your sexual performance along with it), it’s good to remember that “whatever’s good for the heart is also good for the penis”1. The arteries in the penis are three times smaller than the arteries supplying the muscles of the heart. Therefore, many common diseases such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and obesity will often affect the smaller vessels in the penis first making erectile dysfunction and early indicator of vascular health.
High Blood Pressure
Individuals with high blood pressure often blame their medication for negative sexual side effects. While these medications can decrease sexual function, high blood pressure itself can also be the cause. High blood pressure can change patterns of circulation in the body, even damaging the inner lining of arteries—both of these effects can decrease blood flow to the penis and impact sexual performance2.
While your body needs a certain level of cholesterol to function properly, too much cholesterol can be bad for your heart, as well as your performance in the bedroom. An overabundance of cholesterol clogs arteries and restricts blood flow. Without proper blood flow throughout your body (and to your penis), reaching and maintaining an erection can be more difficult.
What you eat plays a big role in your heart health, impacting your blood pressure and cholesterol level. But in addition to eating right to avoid or treat these conditions, there are foods you can eat to improve your sexual function and drive. See our earlier blog on the Mediterranean Diet (http://bit.ly/1l8sfHC). For example, spinach contains magnesium, which helps dilate blood vessels and improve blood flow. Spinach and other green vegetables also contain folate, which can help rid your body of homocysteine. This harmful substance encourages plaque buildup in arteries and puts you at risk for peripheral arterial disease3, so eating your veggies is good for your heart health and your sexual health.
1. Men’s Journal. 6 things that hurt sexual performance. Retrieved from http://www.mensjournal.com/expert-advice/6-things-that-hurt-sexual-performance-20140210
2. Harvard Health Publications (2004). High blood pressure can affect your sex life, says the Harvard Heart Letter. Retrieved from http://www.health.harvard.edu/press_releases/high_blood_pressure_and_sex
3. Men’s Health (2013). How to eat for better sex. Retrieved from http://www.menshealth.com/sex-md/better-sex-diet