Tip: Get Harder Down There

7 things that will give you better erections (and 2 things that won't).

Gel-lo Erection! Glad to Meet Ya'

If you're a big fan of erections (and hey, who isn't?) there's big news and it involves glyceryl trinitrate, aka nitroglycerine, the stuff used to relieve angina and blow up bank vaults in old-time movies.

It seems that rubbing a 0.2% glyceryl nitrate topical gel onto the glans of the penis results in a formidable erection in as little as 5 or 10 minutes. (1)

This stands in stark contrast to the oral PDE5 inhibitors like sildenafil and vardenafil (Viagra and Levitra), which take at least a half hour to kick in and take one to two hours to hit peak blood concentrations.

And, unlike Viagra and Levitra, the absorption of this new, topical nitroglycerine erection enhancer isn't affected by fatty meals. With any luck, this preparation may be available in 2019.

In the meantime, there are plenty of other things you can do (along with some things you should avoid doing) to strengthen erections until this drug comes out.

None of the things listed below, except having high or at least adequate testosterone levels, are going to do what nitroglycerine penis cream or conventional ED drugs can do, but they can help.

1 Testosterone

Without adequate levels of testosterone, or more importantly, a proper free testosterone/estrogen ratio, you likely won't get an erection, at least not from sexual stimulation. In fact, sex will probably be one of the last things on your mind, ranking right down there with horseshoes and scabies.

If you have trouble getting an erection for the simple reason that you have no sex drive; that frankly, you'd rather watch "Flip or Flop Boise" on HGTV than have sex, you just might be low on testosterone. Get yourself tested for both free testosterone and estrogen using the sensitive assay.

2 Pomegranate Juice

A study of pomegranate juice found that it improved erectile dysfunction in 42 men. (2) Several studies have confirmed this property of the ruby red juice. Whether pomegranate does this by improving heart function (and anything that helps the heart and circulation is good for the penis) or some other mechanism isn't completely known.

If you want to experiment with the erection-enhancing effects of pomegranate, drink about 6 ounces a day. Whether you need to drink it a set number of hours before sex is unknown, but drinking it in the morning appears to work fine for those that have sex the same evening.

3 Kegel Exercises

Yeah, older women often do these so their bladders don't cut loose at inappropriate times, but they're also good for men to fight erectile dysfunction. Just flex your pelvic floor muscles rapidly 30 times in a row. Repeat two or three (or more) times a day. No periodization or spotter necessary.

4 Popcorn

Popcorn comes into the picture because it's a good source of the amino acid L-arginine (about half a gram for every 3 ounces of popcorn) and arginine is the biologic precursor of nitric oxide, which plays a prominent role in the birth and nurturing of erections. While it won't take the place of erectile dysfunction drugs, popcorn could conceivably help optimize blood flow.

5 Vitamin B 12

Deficiencies of this vitamin aren't common, but if you're a vegan, an old coot, or someone who takes the drug metformin, you'd best beef up on this vitamin or the result will be a tired, lackadaisical penis.

6 Quinoa

Much the same as popcorn, this grain has high levels of arginine, along with high levels of glutamic acid. (3) These amino acids are well known for pumping up levels of nitric oxide.

7 L-Citrulline

This amino acid is a precursor of arginine, and as mentioned, arginine increases production of nitric oxide. For some reason, though, this amino acid appears to work better than arginine itself. One study exploring its use reported a 70% increase in the number of times intercourse was performed.

Various Pro Nitric-Oxide Supplements in General

Curcumin, ginseng, CoQ10, and vitamin C either increase nitric oxide or keep nitric oxide from breaking down.

Just about everybody knows most of the usual stuff that scares away erections, things like alcohol and drug use, smoking, being morbidly obese and out of shape, depression, etc., but there are also a few surprising things to add to the list:

1 Bicycling

Yep, excessive bicycling can damage the plumbing that sends blood to the penis. At least we can take comfort in knowing that all those "soul cyclers" can't breed. But if you're really into cycling, at least pick up one of those specialized seats that claim to solve this issue.

2 Mouthwash

Nitric oxide is essential for proper erections, but 50% of our nitric oxide production comes from nitrates found in green, leafy vegetables. As soon as we chomp down on these leaves, bacteria in our mouth get to work converting the nitrates to erection-producing nitrites, but if we gargle repeatedly, we've put the kibosh on the bacteria and this chemical conversion.

Granted, the effect is probably minimal, but why short-change your penis when you don't have to? Chew gum or use Tic Tacs instead.

  1. Ralph D et al. Efficacy and Safety of MED2005, a Topical Glyceryl Trinitrate Formulation, in the Treatment of Erectile Dysfunction: A Randomized Crossover Study. J Sex Med. 2018 Feb;15(2):167-175.
  2. Forest CP et al. Efficacy and safety of pomegranate juice on improvement of erectile dysfunction in male patients with mild to moderate erectile dysfunction: a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind, crossover study. Int J Impot Res. Nov-Dec 2007;19(6):564-7.
  3. Saowanee K et al. Ecdysteroids from Chenopodium quinoa Willd., an ancient Andean crop of high nutritional value. Food chemistry. 2011;125(4):1226-1234.