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How to increase blood flow to the penis

Blood circulation to your penis is important, especially when it comes to erections.

Written by
Kate Evans
Medically reviewed by
Last updated
April 22, 2024
min read
How to increase blood flow to the penis
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For something called a boner, there is surprisingly little bone involved — none at all, as a matter of fact.

In fact, the state of your penis — well, the state of your erections — is entirely based on blood flow. At its most basic level, erections are caused by the balance of blood flow into and out of the penis [1].

So if you're having issues with your erections? Well first, we've got treatments to help you out but also — start by looking at your blood. The blood supply, how the blood flow is going, blood circulation and more. There's a reason that erectile dysfunction is often symptomatic of larger, cardiovascular health issues.

Why is blood circulation important?

Well, we know why blood circulation to your penis is important — but what about the rest of your body?

It's safe to say, you can't survive without your blood circulation; the circulatory system works to service all cells in your body with oxygen and nutrients, and remove their waste. Together, your heart, blood and blood vessels work to do this [2].

The moral of the story? Your blood circulation system is needed to sustain life and promote the health of all your body's tissues [3].

What causes a lack of blood flow to the penis?

As you've learnt, penile blood flow is what causes erections.

It's not just one thing that causes a lack of blood flow to the area or even restricts blood flow to the penis. There are multiple issues or medical conditions that can result in changes to the penis' blood flow.

Endothelial dysfunction

This causes inadequate blood supply to the heart, as well as impaired blood flow to the penis, and can aid in the development of atherosclerosis [4].

In fact, as penile arteries are smaller than coronary arteries (1-2mm versus 3-4mm), the same level of endothelial dysfunction may lead to a more significant reduction of blood flow in erectile tissues, than compared to that of your heart.


Speaking of, this condition — which results in the hardening of arteries — can also affect penile blood flow. High cholesterol can also lead to this.


As diabetes is a condition that affects your blood vessels, it in turn can affect your ability to get an erection. Diabetes and atherosclerosis are the 2 most common medical problems that cause erectile dysfunction [1].


This is associated with changes to blood vessels, as well as hormone changes that negatively affect your erection [1].

High blood pressure

When you have high blood pressure (hypertension), over time, it ends up causing damage to the lining of your arteries — causing them to lose their elasticity. And when this happens, your arteries can't accommodate the blood onrush needed for an erection [5].

It also affects the veins, and so the blood that does rush to your penis... ends up exiting just as quickly, meaning you can't maintain an erection [4].

Medications for said blood pressure can also cause issues with sexual function.

What's the link between penis blood flow and erectile dysfunction?

Okay, let's cycle back to how the penis naturally works — as in, how an erection gets going when there are no other issues (medical or otherwise) at play.

As part of your sex life, when you become aroused, nerves release chemicals (including nitric oxide [7]) that increase blood flow to the penis [6]. This blood then flows into 2 erection chambers in the penis, made of spongy muscle tissue — called the corpora cavernosa.

These spongy tissues relax and trap blood — occluding the venous outflow [7]. The blood pressure in these chambers makes your penis firm — which causes an erection.

And when you reach climax, a second set of nerve signals reach your penis, causing the muscular tissues within the penis to contract. The blood is then released back into your circulation — your erection goes down.

So it's safe to say that blood flow issues and erectile dysfunction can go hand in hand.

In fact, it's said that erectile dysfunction can "most often" happen when blood flow in the penis is limited, or nerves are harmed [6]. If there's not a healthy blood flow to the penis — well, there won't be enough for an erection.

If you suffer from decreased blood flow, you'll in turn discover the quality of your erections is affected — they could be weak, and/or they could be short lasting.

And remember the aforementioned fact that penile arteries and penile blood vessels are smaller in size than that of your coronary system?

Well, that's the reason why erectile dysfunction can be an indicator of cardiovascular diseases — issues with these smaller arteries can be indicative of issues with your cardiovascular health, particularly in terms of the body's blood flow.

So if you're suffering from this particular form of sexual dysfunction, it's important to seek professional medical advice — not only could you treat ED and your general erectile health, but you could also benefit your heart health.

Better to catch it while it's poor circulation, as opposed to coronary artery disease.

Our Pilot practitioners know that erectile dysfunction is often a symptom of an underlying health condition that affects blood flow — which is why ED treatments often target the enzyme responsible for blood flow in and out of the penis.

What foods increase blood flow to the penis?

If you want to know what food increases blood flow to the penis, it all starts with a healthy diet.

Specifically, you want to incorporate nitric oxide into your diet — it's the "principal factor" in increasing blood flow to the penis [8].

Why? It promotes vasorelaxation, specifically in the corpora cavernosa — you know, the smooth muscle tissue that increases blood flow into your penis, which results in an erection. Yeah, it plays a big part.

Some important stimulators of nitric oxide production include lettuce, spinach and certain root vegetables like beets.

Other ways to increase your nitric oxide intake is through omega-3 fatty acids — like salmon or sardines. If you're not a fan of fish, you can always take it in the form of dietary supplements.

Folic acid — found in green leafy vegetables, nuts and avocados — also contributes to this increase, and helps prevent hypertension (you know, the high blood pressure that can contribute to erectile dysfunction) [8].

And the raw material from which the most nitric oxide is produced? L-arginine. An amino acid, it acts as a vasodilator, helping open blood vessels — and that includes penile blood vessels. And when blood vessels are open? Yep, it can improve penile blood flow.

L-arginine can come in the form of oral dietary supplements, but it's recommended to consume it as part of a balanced diet — it can be found in products such as:

  • Meat; including red meat, and white meat like chicken and turkey
  • Fish, such as salmon and haddock
  • Nuts and seeds, like almonds, cashews and pumpkin seeds
  • Legumes, like soybeans and chickpeas — ideal for vegetarians or vegans
  • Wholegrains, including brown rice and oats
  • Dairy products; milk yoghurt and cheese [9]

Oh, and according to the state of Victoria's government health website, drinking tea can help increase penis blood flow [10]. More specifically, the antioxidants in tea can prevent the build-up of fatty deposits in the arteries.

In addition to this, they can also act as an anti-blood clotting agent, and they can improve blood vessel dilation — helping increase blood flow.

So, if you've ever thought to yourself before (or Googled quickly and grammatically incorrectly) — well, now you've got your answer. And a variety of food to incorporate into a healthy diet — which can help lead to a healthy sex life.

What foods can reduce blood flow?

Just as there are foods that can increase blood flow to your penis — well, there are those that can reduce blood flow to the penis.

So if you want improved blood flow or better blood flow (and, in turn, improved erectile function, sexual function and sexual health) — here's what to avoid (and why).

Foods high in fat

Not only are foods high in trans fat and saturated fats considered to be risk factors for heart disease, but in turn, a diet that's high in fat increases oxidative stress and decreases vascular nitric oxide — and we all know how important nitric oxide is for improving blood flow [8].

Foods high in sugar

Yes, sugar is delicious — but foods that are high in sugar (and consuming them often) can result in high blood sugar. And the side effects of high blood sugar?

Damaged blood vessels and nerves, which can negatively affect blood flow to the penis, and contribute to difficulty achieving and keeping an erection [11].

So avoid those processed foods when and where you can, and maintain a balanced diet.

Excessive alcohol

Okay, okay, so technically this one isn't a food — but it's still considered to be one of the risk factors for reducing blood flow, and for issues with erectile dysfunction (whiskey dick, anyone?).

Science says that heavy drinking proportionately increases the risk of erectile dysfunction [12]; as it turns out, excessive alcohol suppresses vascular nitric oxide [13].

Alcohol also disrupts the messages that tell your penis to fill up with a healthy blood flow — and it also results in the blood not being trapped in your penis. Therefore, no boner.

How to increase blood flow to the penis

If you're looking to increase blood flow to your penis, one of the first things to do is look at your lifestyle factors. We've already touched upon having a healthy diet, so it only makes sense that the next step is exercise — and yes, it means having to exercise regularly.

Studies actually call this the "most important lifestyle factor" when it comes to influencing erectile dysfunction. As it turns out, a sedentary lifestyle can increase erectile dysfunction by two to ten-fold, whereas 'moderate' activity has been reported to reduce erectile dysfunction by two-thirds. High activity? A reduction of over 80% [13].

If you are worried about your weight — obesity is a risk factor that can reduce blood flow to the penis — there have been studies on how erectile dysfunction is "significantly improved" with weight loss.

Seek professional medical advice on what your healthy weight is, or talk to a mental health professional about anything that could be holding you back in this regard.

Weight loss and increased activity also have a host of other health benefits for your entire body (not just your penis). It helps lower glucose, insulin, waist/hip ratio, and blood pressure, and results in an increase of endothelial nitric oxide production (the stuff your boner loves) [13].

Also, make sure to flex those pelvic floor muscles — pelvic floor exercises can reduce ED.

We're not saying going for a run will give you an instant hard-on, but it does improve blood circulation, resulting in increased blood flow and gets the heart pumping [14] — helping to keep that cardiovascular health in good shape.

And whether you need treatment for one night or every day, our clinical erectile dysfunction treatment can help improve blood flow, in turn helping you maintain a firm erection for your sexual performance.

Our Aussie Pilot practitioners can talk to you via an online consult, and recommend treatment, including clinically proven drugs for ED. Best of all? 94% of men report improved sexual activity on ED medication [15]. 

Photo credit: Getty Images

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