Article By: Patrick M. Carpenter, MS, PHARMD, RPH
Young men typically experience 3 to 5 nocturnal erections throughout the night. Most men experience waking up with an erection, which is the last nocturnal erection in the sleep cycle. Nocturnal erections deliver fresh blood with oxygen and nutrients that replenish penile tissue and stimulate and exercise penile nerves. Whether nocturnal erections are simply an expression of a healthy penis, or actually therapeutic, is an area of debate in the men’s health community.
This suggests that any time blood fills the penis there is a therapeutic benefit
If nocturnal erections are actually leading to better erectile functioning while awake, then clearly there is benefit to nerve stimulating, oxygenated blood filling the penis. This suggests that any time blood fills the penis there is a therapeutic benefit. This concept has led to what is known as penile rehabilitation, the regular systematic stimulation of the penis in order to promote healing and recovery. Penile rehab is often recommended after a prostatectomy (prostate removal) and penile surgeries.
The goal of penile rehab is to oxygenate and stretch the penile tissue through increased blood flow. Penile rehab is typically done using a vacuum erection device (VED), PDE5i oral medications (sildenafil, tadalafil), or injection therapy. A physician may recommend a combination of these therapies depending on the patient’s case.
periodic masturbation during waking hours will have therapeutic benefits to your penile health and erectile function
As a man approaches middle age the frequency of nocturnal erections decreases. If you’re a man with adequate erectile function experiencing decreasing nocturnal erections, and you subscribe to the theory outlined above, then periodic masturbation during waking hours will have therapeutic benefits to your penile health and erectile function.
In medicine we like to work from proof demonstrated through clinical trials involving real people. Penile rehab trials have shown mixed results due to the specific parameters and goals of these studies. For example, when studying patients post-prostatectomy using vardenafil or tadalafil either daily or on demand for 9 months, no erectile improvement was demonstrated following the discontinuation of the drug. However, in another study daily tadalafil was shown to minimize penile length loss, a common side effect of a prostatectomy.
Many urologists agree decreased penile oxygenation and decreased nocturnal erections are related to erectile dysfunction and many urologists believe in penile rehabilitation
The purpose of this article is not to go through every medical trial and present particular outcomes for a given patient population, or to elaborate on the strengths and weaknesses of the study’s methods. Suffice it to say the data is unclear, and study results depend on the goals and particularities of the trial. What is totally clear, however, is that many urologists agree decreased penile oxygenation and decreased nocturnal erections are related to erectile dysfunction and many urologists believe in penile rehabilitation.
Personally, I’ve worked with thousands of patients undergoing treatment for ED. Many of these men describe the benefits they experience from penile rehab, including regaining lost size and better erections. The scientific theory makes sense to me and the patient experiences I have seen make me a believer in and supporter of penile rehab.
If you broke your arm, after the bones healed, your doctor would recommend physical therapy to help the muscles recover and regain functionality. Even in the absence of an injury, simply going to the gym and lifting weights is beneficial to your normally functioning arm. Why would we treat the penis any differently? After a penile surgery, or even just as a means to maintain penile functionality in the absence of an injury or surgery, penile stimulation is a better choice than ignoring your penis.
If you are going to want your penis to respond in a predictable manner on game day, regular practice is warranted
Stimulation of the penis, as a form of physical therapy or exercise for the penis is clearly better than doing nothing. Aside from the oxygenation and tissue stretching, the stimulation keeps a man connected to the health and functioning of his penis. If you are going to want your penis to respond in a predictable manner on game day, regular practice is warranted. For these reasons, even in the absence of a partner, stimulation of the penis through masturbation is beneficial.