The penis is the male organ for both urination and sexual intercourse. Together with the scrotum, they form the two parts of the male external sex anatomy. Even though there is no ideal size pf the penis, man has always placed great importance on the size of his penis. Many cultures associate penis size with masculinity. Throughout the ages, it has come to symbolize qualities such as virility, fertility, strength, ability and courage. Some men feel inadequate due to the size of their penis. Feeling inadequate can really damage a man’s self-confidence and affect his social life. It can lead to issues from being unable to use public urinals or shared shower rooms, to avoiding intimate relationships.
Some men go to extreme lengths to try to increase the size of their penis. Indian mystics known as Sadhus have been known to stretch their penis from an early age by hanging weights on it, while the Topinama tribesmen of Brazil encouraged poisonous snakes to bite their penis to enlarge it.
What is the anatomy of the penis?
The penis as an organ is made up of:
The Glans which is also called the head or tip of the penis. It is the most sensitive part of the penis and the opening of the urethra is located here.
The Shaft which extends from the tip to where it connects to the pubic area. This is like the main body of the penis.
The Foreskin which is a patch of skin that covers and protects the head or glans. This is usually cut off in a circumcised male.
The Frenulum which is where the foreskin meets the underside of the penis. It looks like a small V just below the head. Usually part of it remains after circumcision. And for many people, it is very sensitive.
How does blood flow to the penis and what are the implications?
Blood flow to the penis accounts for most of the changes that happen in the male sexual cycle. Internally, the penis has three long masses of cylindrical tissue, known as erectile tissue, that are bound together by fibrous tissue. There are two identical areas running along the sides of the penis which are called the corpora cavernosa; and a third mass, known as the corpus spongiosum, lies below the corpora cavernosa, and surrounds the urethra. All these are three masses spongelike; and they contain large spaces between loose networks of tissue. When the penis is in a flaccid, or soft, the spaces are collapsed and the tissue is condensed. During erection, blood flows into the spaces, causing enlargement and elevation of the penis. As blood enters, there is a temporary reduction in the rate and volume of blood leaving the penis. The blood vessels carrying blood to the penis opens up or dilates; this, in turn, causes expansion of the tissues of the penis. The veins draining blood away from the penis have funnel-shaped valves that reduce the outflow of blood. As the erectile tissue begins to enlarge, the additional pressure causes the veins to be squeezed against the surrounding fibrous tissue, and this further closes the veins and reduces the outflow of blood. Essentially, blood becomes temporarily trapped in the penis, leading to enlargement of the penis and its increased size when erect. While there is no average size of the penis, especially when it is soft (flaccid), the adult erect (hard) penis can reach about 5 to 7 inches long. The corpus spongiosum usually does not become as erect as the corpora cavernosa. The veins are located more at the sides, so that blood can still flow out of this region. This will prevent the urethra from being collapsed by the adjacent enlarged tissue, so sperm can still be released.
What is the relationship between blood flow to the penis and erectile dysfunction?
For blood to get to the penis and can an erection as has been described above, the blood first has to pass through blood vessels from the heart, downwards, towards the abdomen, then it branches off towards the penis. When at least some of the blood vessels on the pathway from the heart to the penis is not functioning properly, erection is affected, and this leads to erectile dysfunction. Erectile dysfunction occurs when there is difficulty in getting or maintaining an erection that is enough for sex and adequate pleasure derived from sex.
Conditions that can reduce blood flow to the penis
Blood flow to the penis can be affected in several medical conditions. These conditions include:
Sicknesses and conditions that can harden the blood vessels like heart disease, diabetes, and smoking.
Conditions where circulation of blood to the body is poor like peripheral artery disease, diabetes, obesity, high blood cholesterol levels, sickle cell disease, and coronary heart disease.
Some medications can reduce blood flow to the penis for example blood pressure medications like lisinopril, prazosin, and minipress; blood thinners like warfarin or Coumadin; and heart medications like beta-blockers, hormone drugs, nitrates, and calcium channel blockers all impact blood flow to the penis.
How to increase blood flow to the penis naturally
Anything that increases blood flow to the penis will cause a stronger, and better erection, leading to a more fulfilling sexual life. Penile blood flow can be naturally increased in the following ways:
- Exercise. This is a proven way to get the blood flowing. Exercise and physical activity promote better circulation, including to the penis.
- Reduce stress: When the body experiences stress, blood vessels constrict or contract. This will lead to a reduction of blood flow to the penis.
- Massage. A good massage helps to relieve stress and also improves blood flow in both in the muscles and the whole body.
- Increase fluid intake. The blood has a very high water content, and staying hydrated improves circulation.
- Stopping smoking.
- Weight control: Having a healthy weight helps for efficient blood circulation in the body, as well as the penis.
- Healthy eating: while healthy eating helps to maintain a healthy weight, incorporation of some supplements, natural herbs and food rich in certain vitamins have also been associated with increases blood flow to the penis, thereby increasing sexual performance.
Foods and herbs that improve penile blood circulation.
Some food cause improvement in blood flow to both the penis and the whole body. They are:
- Vitamin E contained in oils like wheat germ oil, hazelnut oil, sunflower oil, and other nut oils.
- B vitamins contained in green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale.
- Iron contained in red meats and leafy green vegetables.
- Vitamin D naturally gotten from exposure to sun during outdoor activities.
- Fruits like avocadoes, pomegranates, and water melon.
- Green Tea; the natural anti-oxidant properties of green tea help to regulate blood supply the penis and help maintain erections.
- Fatty Fish contains Omega-3 acids which improves heart and penile health.
- Pumpkin Seeds also contain healthy amounts of Zinc and Omega-3 acids which help blood flow to the penis.
- Garlic and Ginseng also helps with core functions of the body like the cardiovascular, central nervous, and metabolic systems which translate to better blood flow to the penis.
- Herbs like black pepper, cayenne, chickweed, ginger, thyme and turmeric also improve blood circulation to the penis.