Stress is an important and necessary reaction in humans and other animals so that a healthy body can respond appropriately to real threats in life. At times of stress, blood is shifted toward the muscles, heart, and brain to allow these organs and tissues to respond to an appropriate threat. This is called the ‘fight or flight reaction’, and running from a real physical threat, (the flight), or preparing to fight it, can be life saving indeed. Unfortunately modern life is full of stress and stressful situations that are less physically threatening to life but nevertheless induce the stress reaction in people.
The penile blood vessels, like other blood vessels throughout the body, are controlled by certain nerves that reduce blood flow to the penis when the blood is needed elsewhere in the body. The penis also has other nerves that allow increased blood flow, engorgement, and erection. Because the penis is not an important component of the ‘fight or flight’ reaction to stress, at times of real or even imagined stress, the nerves that reduce blood flow to the penis take over. This contributes greatly to ED (erectile dysfunction), particularly if blood flow is already restricted due to poor NO (Nitric Oxide) production, and an unconditioned circulation in someone who is sedentary. So, after a day at the office that was stressful or in a situation where sexual performance is expected, performance anxiety can lead to ED.
Deliberately decreasing stress can be a lot more challenging than increasing blood flow by optimizing NO production, or improving the ability of the circulation to provide the needed blood flow for good erections. If stress is a particular factor in your life, you will have to work harder to optimize all other factors described on this website and in our books. In spite of those efforts you may still have to solve the stress factor.