Archive for March, 2018

Eat Your Way To Better Sex

March 31, 2018

Andrew Siegel MD   3/31/18


Thank you, Max Pixel, for image above of a healthy salmon and salad meal (

You are what you eat…

Our cells and tissues require food for energy to fuel our body functions.   Equally as important, nutrients present in foods serve as the building blocks of our cells and our tissues during the process of remodeling, restructuring and refashioning–that occurs in all tissues including the genitals–as old cells are replaced by new cells.  While optimal sexual functioning is based on many factors, it is important to recognize that food choices play a definite role. What we eat—or don’t eat—can certainly impact our sex lives, and this is equally applicable to both men and women, even though this entry is geared towards men.

Sex is important…

Although not a necessity for a healthy life, sexuality is an important part of our human existence. Healthy male sexual function requires an adequate sex drive, the ability to obtain and maintain a reasonably rigid erection, and the capacity to ejaculate and experience a climax. When sexual functioning goes south, the aftermath can be a loss of confidence and self-esteem, embarrassment, a sense of isolation, frustration and, at times, depression. There is a good reason the word “cocksure” means possessing a great deal of confidence.

Sex is complicated…

Sexual functioning is complex and dependent upon a number of systems working in tandem– the endocrine system (which produces hormones); the central and peripheral nervous systems (which provide executive function and nerve control); the vascular system (which conducts blood flow); the smooth muscles (erectile tissue within the arteries and sinuses of the erectile chambers); and the skeletal muscles (the pelvic floor muscles that help maintain high penile blood pressures necessary for erectile rigidity).

A canary in your trousers…

Sexual function is an indicator of underlying cardiovascular health– Poor erections can be a warning sign that an underlying problem exists. On the other hand, the presence of rigid and durable erections is an indicator of overall cardiovascular health. Since the penile arteries are generally rather small (diameter 1-2 mms) and the coronary (heart) arteries larger (4 mms), it stands to reason that if vascular disease is affecting the tiny penile arteries, it may affect the larger coronary arteries as well—if not now, then at some time in the future. In other words, the fatty plaques that compromise blood flow to the smaller vessels of the penis may also do so to the larger vessels of the heart and thus erectile dysfunction may be considered a genital “stress test.”

A marvel of engineering…

A healthy sexual response is largely about blood flow to the genital and pelvic area. The penis is a marvel of engineering, uniquely capable of increasing its blood flow by a factor of 40-50 times over baseline, this surge happening within seconds and responsible for the remarkable physical transition from flaccid to erect. This is accomplished by relaxation of the smooth muscle within the penile arteries and erectile tissues. Pelvic muscle engagement and contraction help prevent the exit of blood from the penis, enhancing penile rigidity and creating penile blood pressures that far exceed normal blood pressure in arteries. For good reason, Gray’s Anatomy textbook over 100 years ago referred to one of the key pelvic floor muscle as the “erector penis.”

Like well-inflated tires…

Blood flow to the penis is analogous to air pressure within a tire: if there is insufficient pressure, the tire will not properly inflate and will function sub-optimally; at the extreme, the tire may be completely flat. Furthermore, slow leaks (that often occur with aging and failure of the smooth muscle within the penile arteries and erectile tissues to relax) promote poor function.  As your car declines in performance if it is dragging around too much of a load, so your penis can function sub-optimally if you are carrying excessive weight.

Obesity steals your manhood…

Abdominal fat (beer belly) is not just fat, but is a hormonally active organ that is chock full of the enzyme that converts the male hormone testosterone to the female hormone estrogen. Less testosterone translates to less sex drive and more estrogen often promotes man-boob development.  Obese men are also more likely to have fatty plaque deposits that clog blood vessels–including the arteries to the penis–making it more difficult to obtain and maintain erections. As the belly gets bigger, the penis appears smaller, lost in the protuberant roundness of a large midriff and the abundant pubic fat pad.  It is estimated that there is a 1 inch loss in apparent penile length for every 35 lb. of weight gain. So, if your sex drive is lagging, your penis is difficult to find, your man-boobs are prominent and your erections are not up to par, it may be time to rethink your lifestyle habits.

Those were the days, my friend, but now…

Do you remember the days when you could achieve a rock-hard erection—majestically pointing upwards—simply by seeing an attractive woman or thinking some vague sexual thought? Chances were that you were young, active, and had an abdomen that somewhat resembled a six-pack. Perhaps now it takes a great deal of physical stimulation to achieve an erection that is barely firm enough to be able to penetrate. Maybe penetration is more of a “shove” than a ready, noble, and natural access. Maybe you need pharmacological assistance to make it possible.  If this is the case, it is probable that you are carrying extra pounds, have a soft belly, and are not physically active. When you’re soft in the middle, you will probably be soft where it counts.  A flaccid penis is entirely consistent with a flaccid body and a hard penis is congruous with a hard body.

The Golden Rule: Treat your penis well and it will treat you well…

Healthy lifestyle choices are vital towards achieving optimal quality and quantity of life. It should come as no surprise that the initial approach to managing sexual issues is to improve lifestyle choices. These include healthy eating habits, keeping your weight down, exercising, sleeping adequately, drinking alcohol in moderation, avoiding tobacco and minimizing stress.

Bad choices…

Studies have shown that apart from known lifestyle risk factors, dietary practices such as decreased intake of vegetables and fruit and increased intake of unrefined and processed foods, dairy and alcohol are strongly associated with sexual difficulties in young men. Poor dietary choices with meals full of calorie-laden, nutritionally-empty selections (e.g., fast food, processed foods, excessive sugars or refined anything), puts one on the fast track to obesity and clogged arteries that can make your sexual function as small as your belly is big.

Good choices…

Healthy eating is important, obviously in conjunction with other smart lifestyle choices. Maintaining a healthy weight and fueling up with wholesome, natural, and real foods will help prevent weight gain and the build-up of harmful plaque deposits within blood vessels. Healthy fuel includes vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, whole grains and fish. Animal products (meats and dairy) should be eaten moderately and when indulging, lean cuts are healthiest. A Mediterranean-style diet is ideal for optimizing health and minimizing sexual dysfunction and heart disease. Rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, olive oil and lean protein sources (fish and chicken vs. red meat), the Mediterranean diet has been shown to improve sexual function, perhaps by alterations in glucose and fat metabolism and increasing anti-oxidant defenses, arginine levels and nitric oxide activity.

Bottom Line: If you want a “sexier” lifestyle, start with a “sexier” style of eating that will improve your overall health and make you feel better, look better and enhance your sexual function.  Smart nutritional choices are a key component of sexual fitness.

Wishing you the best of health!

2014-04-23 20:16:29

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Dr. Andrew Siegel is a physician and urological surgeon who is board-certified in urology as well as in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery.  He is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Surgery at the Rutgers-New Jersey Medical School and is a Castle Connolly Top Doctor New York Metro Area, Inside Jersey Top Doctor and Inside Jersey Top Doctor for Women’s Health. His mission is to “bridge the gap” between the public and the medical community.

Dr. Siegel has authored the following books that are available on Amazon, iBooks, Nook and Kobo:

 MALE PELVIC FITNESS: Optimizing Sexual & Urinary Health

THE KEGEL FIX: Recharging Female Pelvic, Sexual and Urinary Health 

PROMISCUOUS EATING: Understanding and Ending Our Self-Destructive Relationship with Food


These books are written for educated and discerning men and women who care about health, well-being, fitness and nutrition and enjoy feeling confident and strong.

Dr. Siegel is co-creator of the male pelvic floor exercise instructional DVD (female version is in the works): PelvicRx