Medically reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 5/01/2021
As a man, few parts of your body are as prized and important to both your mental and physical wellbeing as, well, your penis.
Just like your heart, lungs and other organs, your penis needs to be maintained and taken care of to perform at its very best.
Luckily, taking care of your penis is relatively simple. In fact, most things that are good for your general health, such as exercising often, eating well and maintaining a healthy weight, are also good for your penis.
Below, we’ve covered the As to Zs of penis health, from promoting blood flow (something that’s essential for healthy erections) to preventing common hygiene issues and STDs.
We’ve also shared your treatment options if you’re one of the tens of millions of men affected by a penis-related health issue, such as erectile dysfunction or premature ejaculation.
Penis health encompasses the performance of your penis (for example, your ability to get and maintain an erection during sex) as well as basic hygiene to lower your risk of STDs and other infections.
For the most part, anything that improves your cardiovascular health or hygiene will also have a positive effect on your penis and sexual performance.
Simple habits, such as staying active and maintaining a healthy body weight, can have a noticeable positive impact on the health and function of your penis.
On the other hand, habits like smoking or drinking alcohol excessively may prevent your penis from functioning correctly.
Science-based treatments, such as ED medications, can improve your sexual function and may play a role in maintaining the health of your penis.
For the most part, taking care of your penis is the same as taking care of the other parts of your body. However, there are also a few penis-specific things that you should probably be aware of, especially if you occasionally experience issues such as erectile dysfunction.
Below, we’ve shared 11 tips and techniques that you can use to maintain your penis health and sexual performance.
Your diet plays a key role in many aspects of your health, including the wellbeing and function of your penis.
Although there’s no “perfect” diet for optimal erections and sexual health, eating a balanced diet that’s rich in vitamins, minerals and other nutrients is generally the best way to go.
Most research into men’s sexual function shows that diets that are good for your cardiovascular health are also good for your sexual health.
For example, a review published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine concluded that men who are not affected by ED are more likely to have a diet that’s rich in fruit, vegetables, whole grains and fish but low in refined grains and processed meats.
This review also noted that the heart-friendly Mediterranean diet may help to reduce the risk of ED in certain circumstances, such as in men with diabetes.
We’ve explained more about how you can eat for better sexual performance in our guide to the link between your diet and your erections and fertility.
Healthy erections are all about blood flow, and one of the best activities for promoting blood flow and maintaining your cardiovascular system is exercise.
Exercise reduces your risk of heart diseases, including issues that are associated with ED, such as atherosclerosis. It also helps to improve your mental health, which may help to reduce your risk of developing issues such as depression, which can affect your sexual performance.
Exercise also makes it easier to maintain a healthy body weight — a topic we’ve covered in more detail below.
Try to exercise often. According to the National Institute of Health, exercising for as little as 30 minutes per day is enough to produce an improvement in your cardiovascular health.
Research suggests that the heavier you are above your optimal weight, the more likely you are to develop erectile dysfunction.
In a study published in 2014, researchers found that 79 percent of men who suffer from erectile disorders have an overweight or obese BMI. They also found that men with a BMI in the obese range are three times more likely to have sexual dysfunction than healthy weight men.
A study published in the journal Canadian Family Physician monitored the effects of weight loss via calorie restriction on obese men’s erectile function.
After losing weight, 31 percent of men with ED had their erectile function restored, compared to just five percent of men who maintained their original eating habits.
Put simply, if you’re overweight or obese, losing weight and maintaining a healthy body weight in the future may help to improve your penis health and sexual performance.
Because erections are all about cardiovascular health, habits like smoking can have a serious negative effect on your sexual performance.
Numerous studies have established a link between cigarette smoking and an increased risk of sexual performance issues such as erectile dysfunction.
Some of these have found that the relationship between smoking and ED is dose-dependent, meaning the more cigarettes you smoke, the higher your potential risk may be for developing erectile dysfunction.
If you smoke, make an effort to quit. While it’s definitely not easy, quitting has positive effects that extend far beyond your penis health and sexual performance to other aspects of your life, such as improving your heart health and reducing your risk of developing cancer.
Our guide to quitting smoking provides more information about how you can quit for good, with science-based strategies for avoiding your smoking triggers, dealing with cravings, preparing a quit plan and more.
It’s no secret that alcohol can have a negative effect on your sexual performance, especially if you’ve had a few drinks too many.
While it’s okay to drink alcohol in moderation, research shows that men who are dependent on alcohol often have high levels of sexual dysfunction, including issues such as low sexual desire, erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation.
Even if you’re in good health, drinking can cause temporary sexual issues such as whiskey dick — a form of alcohol-induced ED that can easily ruin an otherwise romantic night.
If you drink alcohol, try to limit your consumption to a safe, healthy level. According to the CDC, men should consume a maximum of two alcoholic drinks per day to keep their drinking within a moderate level.
The quality and quantity of your sleep plays a key role in your cardiovascular health, which has a significant impact on your penis and reproductive system.
According to the CDC, adults who sleep for less than seven hours a night are more likely to say they have health problems, including heart attack, depression and asthma.
If you don’t get a full night’s sleep often, or have an inconsistent sleep schedule, you may have a higher risk of developing high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes or gaining weight. All of these issues can have a negative impact on your erections and sexual performance.
These issues can also increase your risk of developing heart disease or experiencing a stroke or heart attack later in life.
For optimal health — not only for your penis, but for your entire body — try to get at least seven hours of sleep per night. We’ve listed methods that you can use for deeper, more restful sleep in our guide to science-based sleep tips.
Your mental health and your sexual health are closely linked. In fact, mental health issues such as depression and anxiety can affect your sexual performance and contribute to problems such as erectile dysfunction.
In addition to depression anxiety, other psychological factors that can affect your sexual health include low self-esteem, feelings of guilt about sex or certain sexual activities, stress or fear of sexual failure.
If you’ve noticed your mental health deteriorating, it’s important to seek help to prevent it from getting worse.
This could mean taking steps to improve your mental health, such as making changes to your habits or reaching out to a trusted friend or family member for help.
Or, it could mean seeking out mental health treatment online or from a psychotherapist or other licensed mental health provider in your area.
Pelvic floor exercises are designed to strengthen the muscles that run between your pubic bone and your tailbone.
These muscles play a role in your sexual function as a man. Strengthening them may not only help with your sexual performance — it can also increase your level of control over your bladder, preventing issues like leakage or dripping after you pee.
Most pelvic floor exercises are relatively simple and can be performed in a few minutes a day at home. We’ve shared a simple four-step process that you can follow to train these muscles in our guide to erectile dysfunction exercises.
Stress, whether it develops at work or at home, can have a negative effect on your penis health and sexual performance.
In fact, stress and anxiety — particularly anxiety about sexual activity — are common causes of a form of ED that’s referred to as psychological erectile dysfunction.
If you’re feeling stressed, try to make changes to your habits and lifestyle to limit your exposure to things that cause you to feel stressed, worried and anxious.
You may want to use relaxation techniques and other approaches to overcome anxiety and get in control of your mental health.
It’s equally as important to keep your penis clean and hygienic as it is to practice good habits for your erectile function and sexual health.
Cleaning your penis properly helps to prevent smegma, a substance that’s made up of oil, dead skin cells and moisture, from building up on your penis. It’s also important for reducing your risk of developing infections.
To keep your penis clean, make sure to wash it at least one time every day using warm water. If you’re uncircumcised (Read more: which is better? circumcision vs uncircumcised), it’s important to pull back your foreskin and rinse the glans (head) of your penis with warm water to clean away bacteria and other substances.
Avoid applying deodorant, talcum powder or large amounts of soap when you clean your penis, as these can irritate the skin and increase your risk of developing an infection.
There are dozens of sexually transmitted diseases, or STDs, many of which can spread to your body through direct contact with others.
Common STDs include gonorrhea, chlamydia, genital herpes, human papillomavirus (HPV) and others. While some STIs are primarily an annoyance, others can have serious consequences for your health and wellbeing — and nevertheless, all STIs are worth getting diagnosed and treated for.
While the most effective way to avoid STDs is to not have sex, you can lower your risk by taking certain steps to protect your penis and body. Make sure to:
Wear a condom. Using a condom correctly will significantly reduce your risk of infection for all STDs. However, some STDs, such as herpes or HPV, can still spread even if you wear a condom during sex.
Get tested. This will inform you about any existing infections, including from STDs that may not cause noticeable symptoms. If you have a partner, getting tested together is an easy, effective step that you can take to have safer sex together.
The CDC website provides more information about how STD testing works, as well as a testing site finder tool that you can use to find testing locations near you.
Get vaccinated. HPV, which is the most common STD, can be prevented by a safe and effective vaccine. The CDC recommends that everyone through the age of 26 receive a vaccination for HPV.
Finally, if you’re young, fit and healthy but occasionally struggle with erectile dysfunction or other sexual performance issues, you may want to consider limiting your porn consumption.
While the link between porn and sexual performance issues isn’t crystal clear, studies suggest that porn usage might have a negative impact on things like your ability to get and maintain an erection during sex.
For example, a thorough review published in the journal Behavioral Sciences noted that online porn may be linked to a rising rate of sexual dysfunction in young men.
The review specifically made note of issues such as low sexual desire, erectile dysfunction and others that are becoming increasingly common for men in their 20s, 30s and forties.
Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean that blocking Pornhub will solve ED immediately. However, if you’re occasionally prone to sexual performance issues, you may notice an improvement by either giving up porn or limiting your consumption.
We’ve talked about this topic, as well as the ongoing research into the effects of porn on your penis health and erectile function, in oru guide to porn-induced ED.
If you’re one of the tens of millions of men with erectile dysfunction, it’s important to understand that options are available to help you.
From therapy to medication, several science-based approaches can improve your penis health and treat common issues such as erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation.
We’ve listed these below and explained more about how each treatment works to improve your sexual health and function.
Several different types of therapy are used to treat sexual health problems that may affect your penis, including ED that’s caused by psychological factors.
Common forms of therapy for sexual health issues include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and sex therapy. These are aimed at helping you identify and change the thought patterns and behavior that may affect your sexual performance.
You can lear more about this type of treatment in our detailed guide to sex therapy for erectile dysfunction.
Erectile dysfunction, a common sexual health issue that affects your penis, is often treated with medication.
Currently, several medications are used to treat erectile dysfunction. These work by increasing blood flow to your penis, making it easier for you to get and maintain an erection when you feel sexually aroused.
We offer several ED medications online, following a consultation with a healthcare provider who will determine if a prescription is appropriate.
Medication is also used to treat premature ejaculation, another common sexual health issue that affects an estimated 30 percent of men worldwide.
Although there’s no medication that’s approved specifically to treat premature ejaculation, some medications designed for other purposes are prescribed off-label to treat PE.
These include antidepressants such as sertraline for premature ejaculation (the active ingredient in Zoloft®), escitalopram (Lexapro®), Fluoxetine (Prozac®) paroxetine (Paxil®), as well as topical desensitizing spray for premature ejaculation that contain ingredients such as lidocaine.
The most effective way to keep your penis healthy and functioning properly is to keep your body in good shape through regular exercise, a balanced diet and other healthy habits.
It’s also important to maintain your mental health, which has a significant impact on your sexual desire, function and performance.
If you have a penis-related health issue such as erectile dysfunction, you can talk to a licensed healthcare provider online about using ED medication.
You can also find out more about treating erectile dysfunction in our complete guide to the most common ED treatments and drugs.
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