Of all subsets of the LGBTQ+ community, cisgender queer men in particular have a reputation for priding ourselves on our appearance. Our medicine cabinets host more skincare products than an aging housewife; our holes are cleaned with premium scrubs that taste like dessert; and our hair is always freshly trimmed and coiffed (since, according to legend, it grants us superpowers).
While our beards, butts, and baby-soft skin are perfectly maintained, we often overlook a fairly important part of our anatomy: the penis. This, in my opinion, boils down to three things: a lack of know-how, a lack of resources, and lack of remedies that treat penis-related issues directly.
“The penis is known for two tasks, sexual performance and urination, so the sign of a healthy penis is its ability to do those two things,” urologist Justin Houman, M.D., tells NewNowNext. “If you have good sexual function (and by that I mean the ability to have sexually satisfying intercourse) and you’re able to urinate without any issues, you have a healthy penis.”
Beyond these two straightforward indicators, morning erections are another sign of a healthy penis. Most people with penises get an erection three to five times a night, each lasting 25 to 35 minutes. Essentially, an erection is your dick’s way of saying, “Things are all good down here, queen.” Conversely, routinely waking up without an erection could be a sign of an existing or pending ailment, such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure.
Of course, erectile issues aren’t always physical. Anxiety and depression often contribute to erectile dysfunction. In fact, a recent survey determined that nearly half of men experience difficulty maintaining an erection caused by sexual anxiety, and one-third have experienced difficulty becoming erect for this same reason.
Should you experience erectile dysfunction, you should speak with your doctor, as erectile dysfunction, low libido, and fertility issues are often the initial signs of poor overall health. In other words, your penis is warning you that you may not be taking care of yourself. What a pal!
In many cases, the remedy doesn’t require medicine or surgery. Sometimes a simple lifestyle change can do the trick. “By eating a well-balanced diet of lean proteins, leafy greens, complex carbs, and healthy fats, sleeping at least seven hours a night, and exercising regularly, you’ll be maintaining your overall health and, in doing so, maintaining a strong, healthy penis,” Houman says.
To his point, lifestyle changes like food and exercise were the most popular and effective methods that subjects in the aforementioned study used to overcome their performance anxieties, followed closely by open communication regarding their anxieties with their sexual partner.
As far as diet is concerned, Houman says there is no one food that boosts penile function directly, despite the many baseless articles on the internet that claim otherwise. However, things like hydrating properly, engaging in pelvic floor exercises, and limiting smoking and alcohol have proven effective in various studies and clinical trials.
And then there’s the whole matter of keeping your dick clean. Circumcised or not, your penis should be washed every day with warm water and gentle soap. If you have foreskin, roll the skin back, exposing the glans, and carefully wash the tip of your penis with gentle soap and water. Be sure not to scrub as the area can be very sensitive. Then, gently pat the glans dry and put the foreskin back. If “smegma," a common substance made of oil and dead skin cells that can build under the foreskin, is present and hardened, gently rub oil on the area before cleaning to loosen up the accumulation.
Aside from kegel exercises, no existing treatments target the strength or appearance of the penis directly. However, similar to what we’ve experienced with “butt-care” products in the wellness industry, we’re beginning to see the emergence of natural and holistic products designed to improve your penis function and appearance.
One of the more prominent products is Anther Wellness, a plant-based, doctor-formulated daily supplement that “powers your privates for long-term wellness” by stimulating the production of nitric oxide “to reduce free radicals and stimulate blood flow to the nether regions.” Translation? Your penis ages like any other part of your body, and these supplements aim to slow this process by targeting cells in your johnson. And while most penis pills and supplements are nothing more than snake oil with ads that crowd your email inbox, Anther shows promise. It was created by Dr. Jacob Rajfer, the trailblazing urologist who conducted the initial research that led to Viagra.
Since a high volume of products marketed to boost penile function (most notably over-the-counter boner pills) are unregulated, there’s a large degree of variability in safety and efficacy. This means these pills may contain harmful substances or ingredients higher than their recommended dose. (Vice published a quick doc on the topic.)
So, if you’re in the market for some penis pills, talk to your doctor and seek those that are FDA-approved, or can be purchased from reputable online retailers or supplement shops. Steer clear of Amazon, which sells over 10,000 different kinds of mostly questionable "male enhancement supplements," and convenience stores.
Admittedly, the “penis-care” market is still something of a minefield, but it’s promising to witness that, like other parts of our anatomy, our penises could benefit from a little TLC.