Many men are interested in enhancing their own and their partners' pleasure and satisfaction during sex.
However, focusing on sexual performance can lead to anxiety. A set of simple lifestyle changes can help to:
- reduce anxiety
- improve erectile dysfunction
- enhance relationships with sexual partners
- increase stamina
These changes can make sex more enjoyable and satisfying for everyone involved.
It is important to note that worrying about getting and maintaining erections is often a key factor in performance anxiety.
Thirteen ways to improve sexual performance
The following methods can help to reduce erectile dysfunction, increase stamina, and improve the overall quality of sex:
1. Focus on foreplay
Some men believe that penetration is the most important, even the defining part of sex.
However, many who experience erectile dysfunction may be heartened to learn that they do not need an erection to please their partners. In fact, erectile dysfunction can even be an incentive to try new strategies that work better for their partner.
Foreplay can include touching, kissing, and oral sex. Making foreplay last can improve the sexual experience for everyone involved.
Foreplay may be especially important for women. A 2017 study found that very few women — around 18 percent — experience an orgasm from intercourse alone. According to the same findings, 36.6 percent of women said that clitoral stimulation was necessary for orgasm during intercourse.
2. Try the start-stop technique
Men who want to last longer during intercourse can try the start-stop technique.
To use this technique, stop sexual activity every time ejaculation feels imminent. Breathe deeply and start again slowly, then stop to delay ejaculation for as long as desirable.
This method can train the body to hold off ejaculation and help a man to feel more comfortable with not ejaculating, even during intense sexual activity.
3. Try something new
Sexual pleasure thrives in an environment of passion and excitement.
If a person has been with one partner for a long time, sex can begin to feel routine, and it may seem increasingly difficult to feel excited, remain focused, or please the partner.
It may help to try a new sexual activity or position or to have sex in a different location. Also, talking about sexual fantasies can make sex more exciting.
In addition, it can help to do something new with a partner outside the bedroom, such as:
- cooking together
- kayaking or hiking
- going to a museum
- seeing a new band
- trying a new sport
This can help people to feel more connected, and the excitement of the new activity can carry into the bedroom.
4. Manage anxiety and stress
Anxiety and stress can make it hard to get or maintain an erection. These feelings can also distract people from sexual intimacy.
If a man feels anxious about how he will perform sexually, he may feel less excited about sex and less engaged during it.
Strategies for managing anxiety and stress include:
- focusing more on physical sensations than sexual performance
- getting more sleep
- working to improve relationships
- spending more time on a favorite hobby
- going to therapy
- taking psychiatric medications
5. Quit smoking
Smoking cigarettes can lead to high blood pressure and other heart-related problems that cause erectile issues.
Smoking is also independently linked to erectile dysfunction. A 2015 analysis of 13 studies on smoking and sexual performance found that quitting smoking often improves sexual function and reduces erectile dysfunction.
6. Open communication
Speaking freely can significantly improve sexual experiences.
If issues related to sex have created tension or worry, it is best to bring this up with a partner. Working together on a solution can help a man to feel less isolated and address any concern or guilt.
A partner may be able to ease fears about sexual dysfunction, and they may have practical suggestions.
7. Address relationship issues
Issues outside the bedroom can lead to sexual dysfunction. For example, a man who feels that a partner criticizes them too much may feel anxious during sex, leading to less satisfying experiences.
Communication that focuses on feelings, not blame, can help partners to address relationship challenges. Some people also benefit from relationship or sex therapy.
8. Get more exercise
Being physically active can reduce risk factors for heart conditions and improve sexual function and overall health.
Conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes can damage nerves and change the amount of blood that flows to the penis. This can make it more difficult to get or maintain erections.
In addition, some men find that regular exercise improves their mental health, reducing anxiety and helping them to feel better about their bodies.
Men can also benefit from exercising the muscles involved in arousal and ejaculation. The following exercise may help:
- While urinating, stop the flow of urine. Repeat several times and learn to identify the muscles involved.
- When not urinating, try to contract these muscles for 10 seconds. Relax them for 10 seconds, then contract them for another 10 seconds.
- Repeat this cycle of contracting and relaxing 10 times each day.
9. Practice mindfulness
Mindfulness is the practice of becoming more aware in the present moment. It is a popular form of meditation for beginners, and it may improve sexual function.
Research published in 2017 suggests that mindfulness-based therapies can change negative attitudes about sex, improve sexual relationships, and help people to be more present during sexual activity.
Mindfulness and meditation can also help to manage stress unrelated to sexual activity. This can indirectly address sexual dysfunction and improve a man's ability to focus in the moment.
10. Try an herbal remedy
Some herbal remedies may improve sexual satisfaction, especially if erectile dysfunction is a concern. In 2018, researchers published a review of 24 trials involving herbal remedies as treatments for erectile dysfunction.
Ginseng provided significant improvements, while a type of pine called Pinus pinaster and the maca root, or Lepidium meyenii, showed early positive benefits. Other herbs, namely saffron and Tribulus terrestris, did not show clear results.
However, results of a small study published in 2017 indicated that Tribulus terrestris may help with erectile dysfunction.
Before trying herbal remedies, speak with a doctor. Official organizations no not regulate herbal supplements, and they can have side effects or interact with medications.
It is important to see a healthcare provider who is knowledgeable about supplements and who can monitor the progress of symptoms.
11. Consider counseling
Erectile dysfunction is often due in part to psychological factors. These can include:
- anxiety and depression
- relationship problems
- social stigma associated with aging or penis size
- untreated mental health conditions
- a history of trauma
Individual counseling can help a man to address the role of these and other factors in sexual satisfaction.
Relationship counseling can help partners to speak openly about sexuality without shame or judgment.
When a man has an underlying health issue, for example, counseling can help him to cope with the stress of erectile dysfunction while communicating about options with a partner.
12. Talk to a doctor
Several medications can help with sexual function, including popular drugs, such as Viagra and Cialis.
Medication can be the most rapid treatment option for some men. If a man taking medication for erectile dysfunction also makes lifestyle changes and participates in therapy, they may eventually be able to stop taking the drugs.
A handful of medications can affect sexual satisfaction, libido, and the ability to have or maintain erections.
A man who takes drugs with sexual side effects should discuss changing the medication, stopping the treatment, or lowering the dosage with a doctor.
13. Manage chronic health problems
Erectile dysfunction can be an early warning sign of health issues. It is important to take good care of the body by eating a balanced diet, remaining physically active, and managing stress.
Treating chronic health issues, such as diabetes and heart disease, is also essential. Take medications as recommended and try lifestyle changes that can improve overall health.
If symptoms of these conditions worsen, seek medical care.
Sexual dysfunction can be concerning and embarrassing, but these types of issues are common and treatable.
A person can come to feel good about their sexuality by working with a certified sex therapist, communicating openly with partners, and trying different lifestyle changes.