It’s the final minute of the third period. Your team is down by a goal. You have a few friends over for the big game, and your rec room seems louder than the arena on the tube.

Suddenly, everyone falls silent. Why? Because there’s a break in the on-screen action…and the first commercial is about erectile dysfunction.

It’s an uncomfortable, embarrassing topic for men on many levels. We like to laugh off so many of our problems, but this seems insensitive and even suspicious when ED is involved. So we clam up and change the subject, despite the fact that around 40 per cent of men over the age of 40 have some degree of ED, which is caused by a range of physical, mental and lifestyle factors.

Thankfully, medications such as Viagra and Cialis have helped millions of men conquer ED, and have even brought a measure of levity to the topic. (Some of the ads are pretty funny, after all.)

Still, there are plenty of natural ways to get and stay firm in the underpants area. Don’t be afraid to talk to your doctor about improving your sexual performance, and heck, why not share your (G-rated!) tips in the comments below? Otherwise, you can simply heed, and share, these five hardwood helpers:

  1. You gotta have heart

Penis 101: blood engorges it, and for this to happen you need adequate blood pressure. If the vessels that supply the organ can’t sustain pressure for as long as you (and whoever else is involved) would like, the penis will go prematurely limp. If the blood pressure never gets where it needs to be, then, well, you get the idea. In short, what’s good for your heart and circulatory system is good for getting it up.

  1. Work it out

Of all the ways you can help your heart, regular cardiovascular exercise deserves special mention here. Getting your sweat on for half an hour every day busts stress—itself an erection-killer—and has been shown to boost the male sex drive, too. And yes, exercise between the sheets counts! Plus, a buff body will probably boost your chances of getting between the sheets in the first place.

  1. Eat the right stuff

Certain foods increase blood flow to the penis. Onions and garlic, for instance, improve circulation; potassium-rich bananas moderate blood pressure, which benefits the sex organs; and spicy chilies and peppers help blood flow by reducing hypertension and inflammation.

The same goes for various vitamins and nutrients: The omega-3 acids in salmon, tuna, avocados and olive oil also increase blood flow. Pork, peanuts and kidney beans are rich in Vitamin B1, which boosts the signals from your brain to your penis. Eggs, meanwhile, are full of other B vitamins that balance hormone levels and bust stress. On that note…

  1. Bad habits, begone!

Many of us handle stress by consuming alcohol, tobacco and recreational drugs. But too much of the former can leave your penis too relaxed to spring into action.  Smoking and drug use, meanwhile, can constrict blood vessels.

  1. Go get some…sun

Yes, the bare skin of summer certainly helps the libido, but sunlight also gets our mojo working by inhibiting the body’s production of melatonin, the hormone that makes us sleepy and quells sexual urges. Does this mean the night time isn’t right time? Well, it still is, but maybe not quite so much…

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