Do vegan guys have better erections?
There’s lots of reasons why you might be considering reducing the amount of meat that you eat and possibly embracing a vegan diet. One of the potential benefits that I hadn’t contemplated was that a change of diet might have some upside when it comes to erections.
Dr Aaron Spitz – a urologist from the US – has done the research. As shown in the Netflix documentary, The Game Changers, he fed three college athletes vegan burritos one evening, and meat burritos the next. By measuring the erections of the guys while they slept, Dr Spitz found that, on average, the guys had erections that lasted almost five times longer after eating the vegan meal, and also that their erections were up to 13.5% firmer.
The findings of Dr Spitz are backed up by anecdotal evidence from former MMA fighter James Wilks. Wilks claims that veganism improved the quality of his erections. “We know that meat has been implicated in causing erectile dysfunction…” said Wilks, according to reporting by the Guardian. “But also sperm quality, sperm mobility, energy and this type of thing.”
However, Lorraine Grover – a London-based nurse specialising in male sexual health – is sceptical. Grover says that there’s no evidence for veganism improving sexual performance, but what we do know is that erections may be negatively impacted by diabetes, vascular problems, and nerve damage.
“Your mental health has a big impact…” explained Grover, talking to the Guardian. “Veganism may have helped James Wilks psychologically, and that carried over into his sexual performance. Everyone just wants to look at whether their penis is getting hard, but if there’s turmoil in your personal life, that affects your erections, too.”
Dr Douglas Savage – an expert in men’s sexual health – told the Guardian that diet also plays a key role, pointing out that obesity is known to contribute to erectile dysfunction.
“Any degree of obesity will make erection problems more likely…” said Dr Savage. “I should have thought that there are fewer obese vegans, generally. Cholesterol clogs up arteries in general, but especially if you have a penis. You may be more likely to be eating a meat-based diet if you have high cholesterol. If your lipids come down on a vegan diet, you may reduce your cholesterol levels.”
The science of erections
When you stop and think about it, erections are fairly fascinating things. When a guy is sexually aroused, blood flows into the chambers within his penis, engorging it, making it hard.
When you’re in the mood, ready for action, the clothes have come off, and it’s go-time, getting an erection shouldn’t really be something you’re consciously thinking about – your body knows what to do.
However, for a lot of guys it’s not that simple.
“About one in ten men will experience some form of erectile dysfunction…” explains medical adviser Dr Hilary Jones. “As there’s both a psychological and a physical element to getting an erection, the specific reason why a man is having difficulty either achieving or maintaining an erection may be fairly complex and not always immediately apparent.”
I’ve been thinking about erections a lot recently. Well, maybe a bit more than usual anyway.
Health professionals generally talk about erections in degrees of hardness. There’s usually four categories – from soft to hard – Tofu, Peeled Banana, Banana, or Cucumber. An incredibly simple but effective system, it’s an easy way to visualise and articulate what’s going on with your body.
Most of the time I’d describe myself as Banana, on a good day it would be Cucumber, on a bad day Tofu. The trouble with stepping up to the plate with anything less than a rock-hard Cucumber, particularly for queer guys, is that anal sex can get a bit awkward. ‘You’re a bit of a swashbuckler!’ was how one guy put it, as we unsuccessfully tried to get down to business.
“While some erection problems are health-related, quite often lifestyle plays an important part…” advises health professional Matthew Hodson. “We know that smoking, recreational drugs, and alcohol can all have an impact on sexual performance, but also so can stress and anxiety. It’s a bit of a vicious cycle – the more you worry about your erection, the less likely you are to be able to get one.”
I always used to get particularly nervous when having sex with someone for the first time. Generally over-thinking the mechanics of it all, instead of just going with it and getting lost in the moment.
I discussed it with my local doctor sort of by accident. I was having my annual health check-up and was given a general questionnaire to fill out. I ticked ‘Sometimes’ to a question along the lines of ‘Do you ever have any problems maintaining an erection.’ My doctor did a few extra tests but ultimately decided that it was probably just a bit of anxiety at play – there was no physical reason why maintaining an erection would be a problem. She prescribed a low-level dose of Viagra.
I don’t want to over-sell it, I’ve only used it a couple of times, but it’s been a bit of a game-changer. If I’m feeling a bit run-down, had a few too many drinks, or just feeling a bit apprehensive about hooking up with someone new, it’s an incredible confidence boost to know that you’re bringing your A-game to the table.
I am Cucumber. It’s go-time!