How do erections work?

It's all about blood flow

An erect penis contains up to 8x the normal amount of blood flow

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Disclaimer: This information isn’t a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should never rely upon this article for specific medical advice. If you have any questions or concerns, please talk to your doctor.

How do guys get erections?

Erections are surprisingly complicated. Each one takes your heart, lungs, hormones, nerves, blood vessels, and even your mood to work together seamlessly in a complex sequence of events. When everything goes right, an erect penis can contain up to 8x the normal blood flow. But one missed reaction in that chain can lead to erectile dysfunction.

Every erection is the result of an eight-part relay race that starts in the brain with arousal and ends in the penis with an erection:

  1. Men become aroused
  2. The brain passes that signal to the body through the spinal cord and nerves
  3. Blood vessels release nitric oxide
  4. Nitric oxide makes arteries in the penis relax
  5. Blood flow to the penis increases
  6. Veins in the penis contract, trapping blood in the penis
  7. Erectile tissue fills with blood, swells, and stiffens
  8. You get an erection

Erections are healthy

Erectile dysfunction can be the first warning sign of more serious underlying causes like diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, or low testosterone. If you’re struggling with erectile dysfunction, talk to a doctor to find out what might be causing your ED.

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