Man wearing white shirt and holding condom wrapper to represent men's sexual health

What to Know About Men's Sexual Health

Medically reviewed on July 11, 2023 by Jordan Stachel, M.S., RDN, CPT. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.

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Men's sexual health is an integral part of overall well-being and quality of life. It encompasses not only the physical aspects of sexual function, but also the emotional, psychological, and relational dimensions of sexuality.

From common men’s health issues like low testosterone (also known as “low T”), erectile dysfunction, and premature ejaculation, to the impact of lifestyle choices, communication, and age-related factors, this article will provide valuable insights and practical guidance to empower men to prioritize and enhance their sexual well-being.

Common Sexual Health Issues in Men

It’s reported that 31% of men report some degree of male sexual dysfunction, which is defined as any problem that prevents individuals from experiencing sexual satisfaction.1 Male sexual dysfunction may occur at any stage of the sexual response cycle, which includes excitement, plateau, orgasm, and resolution. [1]

That said, sexual problems (in both men and women) can be classified in four ways: [1]

  • Desire disorders
  • Arousal disorders
  • Orgasm disorders
  • Pain disorders

Men and people assigned male at birth (AMAB) may experience the following sexual problems:

Erectile Dysfunction (ED)

People who experience ED are often unable to get an erection. That said, there are variances in the disorder. Some may be able to get an erection sometimes but unable to at other times. Others may not be able to last throughout intercourse.

Problems with the vascular system, nervous system, and endocrine system can cause ED, as well as conditions like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, chronic kidney disease, multiple sclerosis, heart and blood vessel disease, and atherosclerosis, as well as injuries to the penis, spinal cord, prostate, bladder, or pelvis. It’s also commonly caused by some medications used to treat blood pressure abnormalities, prostate cancer, depression, and ulcers.

All that said, ED can be mental or emotional, too. Some men or people AMAB experience ED as a result of anxiety, depression, stress, guilt, low self-esteem, or fear of sexual failure. If that’s the case, it’s encouraged to speak to a healthcare provider who can provide support and possible solutions. [2]

Premature Ejaculation (PE)

One in three people have reported experiencing PE at one point in their lives. It occurs when semen leaves the penis earlier than wanted during intercourse. Those diagnosed with the condition are unable to delay ejaculation and nearly always ejaculate one to three minutes into intercourse. This can lead to feelings of distress, frustration, embarrassment, and avoidance of sexual activity. [3]

Retarded Ejaculation

Retarded ejaculation is the consistent difficulty or inability to ejaculate, even when sexual desire, stimulation, and erection are present. There are many suggested causes of retarded ejaculation, including medical illness, drug ingestion, and psychological factors, such as guilt, shame, resentment, or fear. [4]

Delayed Ejaculation

Also called ‘impaired ejaculation’, this condition occurs when a person takes a long time to ejaculate, i.e. 30 minutes or more. Other people may not be able to ejaculate at all. While causes are undetermined, the condition can be either circumstantial or generalized. This condition may also arise as a result of certain health conditions, medications, surgeries, or psychological factors. [5]

Low Testosterone

As men and people AMAB age, testosterone levels gradually decrease. Testosterone plays a role in growth and development as well as sex drive. Young men may also experience testosterone deficiencies, or low T, but they’re most likely to impact people who are older or people who have obesity, type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), or kidney dysfunction.

Low testosterone can lead to alterations in body composition, cause some forms of sexual dysfunction, such as ED or low libido, and lead to low sperm count or infertility. [6]

Men’s Sexual Health and Age

Men’s sexual health, drive, and preferences can change throughout their lifetimes. During adolescence and puberty, their bodies and reproductive organs will further develop, their voices become deeper, and their sexual drive may increase. [7]

Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)

As people AMAB age, they’ll begin to explore sexual relationships, intimacy, and sexuality. At this time, it’s critical to stay educated and practice safe sex as well as good sexual hygiene to avoid transmitting or spreading sexually transmitted diseases, such as:

  • Chlamydia
  • Gonorrhea
  • Herpes
  • Syphilis
  • HPV
  • Trichomoniasis
  • Hepatitis B

For men, contraception methods include condoms. However, if participating in a heterosexual relationship, they can also encourage their assigned female at birth (AFAB) partners to use oral contraceptives, intrauterine devices (IUDs), and other forms of birth control. That said, it’s crucial to remember that the choice of contraception ultimately belongs to the individual themselves. While men can certainly have open discussions about birth control options with their female partners, it’s essential to respect their autonomy and never force or pressure them into a specific method.

That said, if you do believe you’ve contracted an STD or have found signs of a STD, it’s critical to visit a healthcare provider who can provide treatment or care options.

Testosterone and Other Lifestyle Effects

As men age, testosterone levels can decrease, particularly near the age of 40, and men are more likely to experience some form of sexual dysfunction. [1] Besides sexual dysfunction, age can also decrease one’s sexual drive, although many people AMAB are sexually active well into their 60s and 70s. [8]

Lifestyle can also play a role in men’s sexual health. Feelings of anxiety or depression, chronic stress, alcoholism, and chronic drug use throughout one’s life can also impact the sexual organs and decrease the libido. [8] Physical limitations or medical conditions can also impact an individual’s ability to have sex.

Sexual Health and Relationships

Building and maintaining healthy relationships is crucial for overall well-being, including sexual health. Healthy relationships are characterized by trust, respect, effective communication, and mutual support, which can foster a positive and fulfilling sexual connection. [9]

To foster a healthy intimate or sexual relationship, individuals AMAB can contribute to building trust and respect by demonstrating reliability, honesty, and faithfulness within the boundaries defined by the couple. This can involve:

  • Open communication
  • Vulnerability
  • Active listening
  • Setting and respecting boundaries
  • Connecting emotionally outside of sexual encounters
  • Aligning expectations regarding sexual preferences and long-term goals
  • Finding partners who share your values
  • Sharing your sexual and romantic preferences or desires

Communication and Intimacy

Open communication and active listening are important aspects of sexual health. Namely, consent from all partners when engaging in any form of intimate or sexual activity with another person and/or people is mandatory and should never be assumed or coerced. Consent must be freely given and can be retracted or modified whenever the individual feels uncomfortable or no longer wants to participate. [10]

Ongoing communication before, during, and after a sexual connection can help to create a safe place for both partners in which they can share their: [10]

  • Thoughts and feelings
  • Desires and preferences
  • Worries and concerns
  • Boundaries and needs

Within intimate relationships, also pay attention to nonverbal clues that can tell you how your partner is feeling, such as body language and eye contact. [10]

Maintaining a Healthy Lifestyle for Sexual Health

Physical well-being plays a crucial role in men's sexual health, as various aspects of the body can impact sexual function. For instance, conditions like diabetes, which affect blood sugar regulation, can have adverse effects on sexual health, potentially leading to erectile dysfunction. [2]

Additionally, cardiovascular problems can hinder the potential for a satisfying sex life, especially if these problems affect blood flow to the genital area or make sex unenjoyable through symptoms like: [11]

  • Chest pain
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Fatigue

Private STD consultations

By prioritizing physical health and addressing any underlying conditions, men can take proactive steps to support their sexual well-being and enhance their overall sexual experiences. To maintain optimal health, consider:

  • Exercise – Regular cardio exercise can enhance blood flow to the genital area to help achieve and maintain erections in people AMAB. Exercise may also help regulate hormone levels and increase strength, stamina, and endurance.
  • Nutrition – Certain nutrients play a crucial role in sexual health. These include zinc, which supports testosterone production, blood flow, and fertility. [12] Antioxidants can also protect against oxidative stress and may also play a role in semen production and fertility. [13] A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins can support cardiovascular health and thus reproductive health as well. [14]
  • Stress management – High-stress levels can contribute to sexual difficulties, decreased libido, and overall dissatisfaction.15 Meditation, deep breathing exercises, yoga, and mindfulness can help promote relaxation, as can setting boundaries in work and making time for family, friends, and hobbies. Also, consider openly speaking with a partner, trusted friend, or therapist about your experience to help alleviate stress, improve your mental and emotional well-being, and bolster your sex drive.
  • Sleep habits – Adequate sleep can help regulate hormone production, including testosterone. [16] It can also increase your energy levels, support your mental and emotional well-being, and rejuvenate the body.

Address Your Sexual Health With Everlywell

Men's sexual health is a multifaceted aspect of overall well-being that can be influenced by various factors. Common issues that people AMAB may experience include various forms of sexual dysfunction. Age can also affect men's sexual health, with testosterone levels decreasing as they get older.

Consequently, maintaining a healthy lifestyle is crucial for optimal sexual health, including regular exercise to improve cardiovascular health and hormonal balance. Building and maintaining healthy relationships is also critical to optimizing sexual health and can improve sexual experiences.

If you have more questions about your sexual health, make a telehealth appointment for STD treatment online with an Everlywell clinician, whether you’re experiencing a low sex drive or having difficulty falling asleep. They’ll be able to assess your symptoms and help you navigate your health. Everlywell also provides various at-home lab tests to help you stay on top of your sexual health, including an STD test, HIV tests, Syphilis test, and more.

Sexuality and Aging: Your Guide to Maintaining Sexual Health

How to Boost Libido and Increase Sex Drive

Does Low Testosterone Cause ED?


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  2. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Symptoms & Causes of Erectile Dysfunction | NIDDK. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. URL. Published September 17, 2019.
  3. Mayo Clinic. Premature ejaculation - Symptoms and causes. Mayo Clinic. URL.
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  14. NHS INFORM. Health benefits of eating well. URL. Published April 30, 2020.
  15. Low Libido (Low Sex Drive): Causes, Symptoms & Treatment. Cleveland Clinic. URL.
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