How to Improve Blood Flow to the Penis

Written by
The Manual Team
Medically approved by
Dr Earim Chaudry
Last updated
7th January 2022

In 30 seconds…

Strong and lasting erections depend on good blood flow to the penis, which you can improve by looking after your cardiovascular health. Exercising, maintaining a healthy balanced diet, and reducing your alcohol intake all contribute to a healthy blood flow to the penis. Alternatively, drugs for erectile dysfunction are available.

It’s what every man wants, right? The ability to get and maintain a good erection. So, if poor blood flow is stopping you from getting to the highest of heights, it’s time to do something about it.

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is too common for our liking. It’s thought that up to 40% of men under 40 suffer from ED symptoms at some point. Us guys can be notoriously bad at asking for help, so it’s worth doing what you can to keep in tip-top condition before the problem gets too bad.

For some men, a few lifestyle and diet changes are all that’s needed to improve blood flow in the penis and boost your sexual prowess. Other times, approved ED medications can make all the difference to keep you going strong in the bedroom. Help and advice like this is what we’re here for.

Why is Blood Flow Important?

So why exactly is blood flow important when it comes to erections? Here’s some science.

When you’re aroused, your brain sends nerve signals to promote nitric oxide-mediated vasodilation of the blood vessels supplying the penis. This engorgement of blood promotes the extension and contraction of the erectile tissues within the penis. Additionally, the muscles compress the veins (i.e. the blood leaving the penis), so this maximises the blood within the penis.

Described in layman’s terms, erections are all about “maximising inflow while minimising outflow” – i.e., making sure your blood gets into your penis and, just as importantly, doesn’t get out too soon. And we’re talking about a lot of blood. A healthy erection can need up to 8 times the amount of blood than when your penis is flaccid!

Sounds simple enough, but if you aren’t pumping blood like you should, there could be trouble ahead.

How Can I Improve Overall Blood Flow?

While improving blood flow generally will make you feel a great deal healthier and more energised, improving blood flow in the penis specifically can make a big difference to your sex life.

Looking after your heart is the first step towards good blood flow. If you have high blood pressure, diabetes, or heart disease, improving your heart health should be a top priority and is likely already something your doctor has advised.

If you’re not suffering from any underlying causes of poor circulation, some general lifestyle changes can be enough to get the blood pumping in all the right places.

A Blood-Friendly Diet

Not necessarily the first thing you think of when adopting a new diet, but choosing foods that are good for circulation is a big deal. Eating the right foods can not only improve your circulation but boost your sperm count and testosterone levels too.

Certain foods, such as dark chocolate, citrus fruits, and onions are high in flavonoids which promote healthy blood pressure and a healthy heart.

Nitrate rich foods, including vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, and beets as well as cinnamon convert to nitric oxide, and as we know, that chemical is super important when it comes to erections. Garlic is thought to help relax arteries and can improve blood flow. Reducing your salt intake can help reduce high blood pressure, improving the health of your arteries, too.

Exercise and Lose Weight

Maintaining a healthy weight through the right diet and exercise can limit your chances of suffering from poor blood flow and the erectile dysfunction problems that can come with it. Being overweight is linked to various serious conditions including diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol, all of which can contribute to your likelihood of suffering from ED.

A study has shown that just 40 minutes of aerobic exercise 4 times a week can vastly improve erectile function, so no better reason to dig out your trainers and get moving. Now!

Stop Smoking

As if there aren’t enough reasons already to stop smoking…

Smoking is really bad news for your heart and arteries – as well as your erections. Smoking has been shown to cause coronary artery disease, clogging your arteries with plaque meaning your blood can’t flow healthily, and can eventually cause a heart attack. And smoking 10 or more cigarettes a day can increase your chances of suffering from erectile dysfunction.


We know that stress can be one of the main psychological causes behind ED, but physiologically it has an impact too. Blood vessels constrict when we feel stressed, so of course, this is going to negatively affect the way your blood flows around your body.

Try removing unnecessary stresses from your life. We’re not suggesting you quit your job or stop paying your bills, just try some mindfulness exercises. Deep breathing, meditation, and even massage (which can boost circulation through the cardiovascular system) can all make you start feeling like a new man.

Get Your Vitamins

We know that vitamins play a major part in men’s overall health, but they can help improve blood flow too. B Vitamins, found in cheese, spinach, avocado and wholegrains, help produce red blood cells, which makes it an important vitamin when trying to improve blood flow. 

Vitamin E, meanwhile, is a powerful antioxidant, and Iron is an important part of the makeup of red blood cells, so both are vital when it comes to circulation. Prepare foods with sunflower or nut oils and eat plenty of leafy greens and red meat to get your fill.

Limit Alcohol Intake

Excessive alcohol is a big no-no when it comes to getting a good erection. Alcohol relaxes the soft muscle tissue in the penis, which in turn can stop the blood vessels from trapping the blood there — and this means no erection.

A glass of wine or two may help you get in the mood, but more of us than we’d admit have probably been less than impressed with our sexual performance after a night on the tiles (and booze). While this might have just been an embarrassing blip, frequent binge-drinking can have a lasting negative impact on your overall health, as well as your blood flow.

Stay Hydrated

Plasma makes up over half of the volume of your blood, and plasma is almost entirely made up of water, so it should be no surprise that staying hydrated will keep your blood nice and healthy.

If you’re dehydrated, there will be a lower volume of blood available to flow to your organs, which means less blood to give you a good strong erection. So make sure you drink the recommended daily amount — about 3.7 litres or 8 pints.

What Stops Blood Flow to the Penis?

So, as we’ve said, keeping your heart and blood circulation healthy is critical to improving your blood flow and erections. So what might stop blood flow to the penis? In essence, poor lifestyle choices and serious medical issues can impact negatively on blood flow in the penis.

If you’re stressed, overweight, or diabetic, the likelihood is that your erections will be taking a hit. Adopting a new, more active, and a healthier lifestyle can help all three of these factors.

Atherosclerosis is a serious condition which affects blood flow around the body and can cause erectile dysfunction as it limits blood flow in the penis. It refers to when arteries harden and block up with a substance called plaque. Atherosclerosis has six main causes; it can be a hereditary trait, or due to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, smoking, and diabetes.

Less of a serious risk factor, but something worth considering if you’re in the mood for love, is that eating a large meal right before you want to get busy can impact your ability to get an erection. The energy it takes to digest a big meal will mean that more of your blood is diverted to deal with that situation. If you’re looking to get lucky, maybe skip the burger and chips and go for something lighter.

Men with high blood pressure (hypertension) can also have serious issues with blood flow. Uncontrolled high blood pressure can damage blood vessels, causing them to narrow, impeding the flow of blood around the body. Hypertension can also lead to blood clots that block blood flow, which is detrimental to achieving a strong erection, but can also lead to more serious situations like a stroke or heart attack.

Unfortunately, the likelihood of suffering from hypertension increases as you get older, which correlates with the fact that more older men, unfortunately, suffer from ED.

But never fear – it’s not too late. You can still improve your erections.

How Can I Improve My Erections?

If your blood flow generally is pretty good, but you’re still suffering from poor erections, it might be that you’re suffering from erectile dysfunction (ED). Getting an ED diagnosis is a tough pill to swallow, but thankfully the real ED medications are a lot easier to deal with and can make the world of difference to your sex life. Millions of men with erectile dysfunction are turning towards medical intervention to help improve their erections.

These days, there is a range of approved and licensed ED drugs that are available to buy online and we can help by having them delivered discreetly to your door.

Viagra, its generic unbranded counterpart Sildenafil, and Tadalafil are all medications called PDE5 inhibitors. These drugs target PDE5, the enzyme responsible for smooth muscle contraction within the blood vessels supplying your penis. By blocking the effect of this enzyme, more blood can flow to where it is needed, which, as we know, increases the chances of achieving and sustaining an erection.

All three drugs work in this similar way but can take different amounts of time to work, and the effects can last for differing amounts of time. Sildenafil is the active ingredient in Viagra branded tablets, so these two options are the same – except for the name. Commonly, they take around 30-60 minutes to take effect and the results can last for 3-6 hours.

On the other hand, Tadalafil is often called the “weekend pill” as it’s effects can last for up to 36 hours, and can often get to work within 30 minutes, meaning you can have extra spontaneity in your sex life.

While these medications are proven to help most men with ED, you should still follow our tips to maintain a healthy lifestyle to ensure the medications work to their full potential. 

Cialis (Tadalafil)

The weekend pill

Known as the “weekend pill” because it is effective for up to 36 hours, Tadalafil is the generic, unbranded version of Cialis. Clinically proven to help you get an erection when you need it.

Best for
Weekend use
Effective in
Effective in 8 out of 10 men
2.5mg, 10mg, 20mg

Erections aren’t always easy for millions of men in the UK. It’s no big deal. Choose from highly effective, clinically proven solutions.


How common is erectile dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction is unfortunately quite common in men, with about 40% of men under 40 experiencing some sort of erectile dysfunction symptoms.

Why is blood flow to the penis important?

Erections are achieved and maintained by the blood flowing into and out of your penis during arousal. Maintaining the health of your blood flow helps you to keep strong erections for longer, but also holds many benefits to your general health, too.

What causes an unhealthy blood flow?

The key to a healthy blood flow is a healthy heart, since it’s the heart which pumps blood all around the body. Sufferers of heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure, as well as those who are stressed or overweight, are more likely to have an unhealthy blood flow, leading to problems getting and maintaining erections.

How can I improve my blood flow?

Provided you don’t sufferer a more serious condition like diabetes, heart disease, or high blood pressure, there are a few simple things you can do to improve your blood flow dramatically. These include: eating a healthy balanced diet, exercising, limiting alcohol and cigarette consumption, de-stressing and staying hydrated.

While we've ensured that everything you read on the Health Centre is medically reviewed and approved, information presented here is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. It should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. If you have any questions or concerns, please talk to your doctor.

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Erections aren’t always easy for millions of men in the UK. It’s no big deal. Choose from highly effective, clinically proven solutions.