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Performance anxiety and how to overcome it

Sex is fun, right? Except sometimes it can be stressful. You want things to flow in bed, but this may not always be the case. Overthinking is something that we’re all guilty of, even the little things, so when you start to worry about your performance and question yourself, there may be no performance at all.

Whether you think you’re not big enough, have doubts as to whether you’re able to last long enough, or if you think your partner isn’t enjoying it, sexual performance anxiety is something that can affect most males.

It’s natural to have doubts, but you shouldn’t let it define you.

Performance anxiety and erectile dysfunction

Feeling stressed and anxious about sex can cause problems for both men and women. For guys, one of the most likely results of sexual performance anxiety is erectile dysfunction (ED), which means that you can struggle to either get or maintain an erection.

You might want to have sex with your partner, but if your head isn’t in the right place, you can have problems getting and staying hard. If you’re too stressed, your body just won’t react the way you want it to. This can be embarrassing, and it can leave you feeling powerless.

Causes of performance anxiety

Having sex isn’t just a purely physical act, and sometimes your emotions can get in the way of having a good time. There are many worries that may run through your head if you are experiencing performance anxiety, including:

  • Thinking that your penis isn’t big enough for your partner
  • Worrying that you won’t be able to last as long as they want
  • Fear that you don’t like to do the kind of things they do, or that you’re not good enough at them
  • Poor body image, such as worrying that you’re overweight, not muscular enough, or generally that you don’t like how you look naked
  • Fear that you’re not masculine or dominant enough for your partner
  • More general worries and stress from your life, be it work, finances, or problems in your relationship

Do I have erectile dysfunction or performance anxiety?

The two are related. Sexual performance anxiety can cause erectile dysfunction if the anxiety is strong enough. But performance anxiety isn’t the only cause of ED. You might feel anxious about sex, but there could be another reason that’s causing it.

There are lots of possible causes of erectile dysfunction; some physical, some mental, and others related to lifestyle choices. Some causes are easily addressed, but others can be more serious.

You owe it to yourself to work out what’s causing any problems and what the solutions are.

How to overcome performance anxiety?

You’re probably asking yourself how to fix performance anxiety. A lot of the time it’s about getting your head right. Try some of the following:

Talk about it

As difficult as this might be, it can really help. Tell your partner how you’re feeling and what’s going on in your head. It doesn’t have to be embarrassing or emasculating. You don’t have to tell them you’re worried you’re not good enough, but frame it instead as being concerned about giving them as much pleasure as you can.

You might find your partner is just as anxious as you are and sharing your feelings may help you both relax and have better sex together.

Get your own expectations straight

You want to give your partner the best sex you can, we get it. But if you’ve had sex before and they’re back for more, remember, it means they like you and they want to do it again, so try not to worry.

If it’s going to be the first time with someone new, then remember that sex is like a conversation. It’s not just down to you, it takes two to have a good conversation, and the better you get to know the person, the better it usually goes. It’s the same with sex. The first time might be a little awkward, but that’s natural. It’ll get better with time.

Become a master of foreplay

Focus on your partner and think about how you can give them as much pleasure as possible. That means getting good with your hands and mouth. It can really take the pressure off.

If you get them screaming your name before you get down to sex, they’ll be a lot more relaxed about what happens after. If your partner is female, the reality is that a lot of women don’t orgasm from penetrative sex anyway, and if you make her climax before you’ve even entered her, she’ll likely be happy whatever else happens.

Exercise to reduce stress and control your thinking

Meditation and mindfulness techniques can help to get control of your negative thoughts, so you can get rid of any anxiety before it gets a hold of you. Even small things like taking a hot shower before sex can destress and relax you.

Consider therapy

If none of the above are helpful, you can talk to your doctor and ask to be referred to a therapist, who can help you learn to better manage your anxiety. You can also try finding a private therapist through the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy website.

Try erectile dysfunction treatments

Sildenafil (the active ingredient in Viagra) is commonly used to treat erectile dysfunction and is generally safe to use in moderation. It works by relaxing the walls of blood vessels, inside the muscles of certain areas of the body, and has helped many men get their confidence back.

If you don’t have underlying medical problems, you shouldn’t see Viagra as a permanent solution to erectile dysfunction caused by performance anxiety. But it certainly can help as a temporary solution.

If you’re with a new partner, or it’s been a while, or you just feel you need to get your mojo back, Viagra can help to guarantee an erection and can take your mind off your anxiety. You need to make sure you don’t use Viagra as a crutch though. You still need to address the causes of your performance anxiety.

Performance anxiety might feel overwhelming at times. But it’s a common problem and one that you can work to resolve. You can soon get back to your old self.

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  • sex

How to talk to your partner about erectile dysfunction

Admitting you have a problem in the trouser department can be tough. But telling a partner you have erectile dysfunction can be even tougher.

We don’t want the people closest to us to think less of us, so we hold it in. And instead of opening up, we enter a vicious cycle of stress and anxiety. This can make ED worse. But it can’t be as bad as being rejected, can it? The problem is many men think their partner will react by walking out.

This couldn’t be further from the truth. Most other halves are caring and understanding and letting them in can even help you in the long run.

Remember, you’re not alone. It is reported that there are 4.3 million other UK men who are in the same position, so believe us when we say ED is very common.

How should you approach a conversation about ED?

It’s important to wait until the right moment to tell your partner about ED. Every person and relationship is different, so just when this is, is up to you. However, we recommend to not do it when you are in a rush, such as first thing in the morning before work, as this gives you both longer to dwell on things.

Instead, make sure you will have enough time to discuss the matter properly. You could arrange a date night at home, or wait a few hours before bed when you’re both unwinding. At the same time, don’t feel you have to make a big announcement. Most ED can be treated, so hold off on the dramatic speech. Simply smile at your partner and ask for a quiet chat over a cup of tea.

How will my partner react?

Prepare for your erectile dysfunction to come as a surprise to your partner. They are entitled to ask you questions, which is why it’s a good idea to be ready with the facts, to put their mind at ease as much as yours.

Try not to be defensive if they don’t understand what causes ED. Research shows that 42% of partners already think it’s their fault, so reassure them. And remember, it’s hard to know what someone with ED is going through when you haven’t had it yourself — that goes for partners of both sexes.

What comes next? Managing ED as a couple

The sooner you both open up about ED, the sooner you can begin to explore any underlying issues together — whether mental or physical. A compassionate partner is invaluable when you’re going through a rough time. Be honest with them about your symptoms and how you’re feeling.

They’ll likely suggest you visit a doctor or a sexual health clinic, advice which we’d always advocate. This can help you get to the root of your ED. At the same time, if your ED is simply caused by a lack of excitement, you might want to talk about slowly introducing sex toys or changing things up.

This is also a great opportunity to explore sexual medication like Viagra, which can help you get it up and boost your confidence.

Understanding erectile dysfunction better

What actually causes erectile dysfunction?

It’s much easier to talk about an issue once you understand it. That’s why you shouldn’t moonlight as a math teacher if you’re bad with numbers. Causes of ED range from high blood pressure to mental health. It could be a hormonal imbalance, or it could be depression. A GP can diagnose this.

Why does erectile dysfunction occur?

When we get aroused, our bodies send blood cells to the penis, causing it to harden. Hormonal imbalances can delay and prevent this response. High blood pressure and diabetes might make it harder to get blood to your penis, while depression can deplete the body of feel-good chemicals like dopamine. Incidentally, enjoyable sex can up your dopamine levels.

How is erectile dysfunction treated?

If you’re unsure what’s causing your ED, don’t worry. It’s always best to speak to your GP or a nurse at a sexual health clinic. Don’t self-diagnose using Google, as this can cause you unneeded stress. Speak to us about trying sildenafil (Viagra), which is one of the most effective treatments for erectile dysfunction. Our doctors will determine if a prescription is right for you. If you sense you have a deeper problem, bring this up too.

What to say and what not to say

Being honest about your emotions (yes, men do have them) can go a long way. Even if you find it hard to talk, some communication is better than none.

Be gentle and patient. You don’t want to start making unrealistic sexual demands of your partner to fulfill a 50 Shades of Grey fantasy.

We’d also advise against giving your partner your blessing to seek sexual fulfillment elsewhere. Unless you’re both serious about polyamory, it can be awkward and hurtful. Remember, they’re with you for a reason.

Put yourself in their shoes and try not to let conversations about ED take over. Ask your partner how they’re feeling and be supportive.

Be the guy that doesn’t let ED stop him from being the guy people love.

Can erectile dysfunction impact your relationship?

It’d be unfair to talk about ED without opening up about the challenges.

Indeed, erectile dysfunction can put a strain on a relationship if someone's sexual needs aren’t met, which is why it’s important to talk things through.

Some men with ED have regretted keeping their other half in the dark, as they can feel rejected. Others say medicine makes sex formulaic and dull.

This can be avoided by putting more thought into special occasions and making sex more of an event to look forward to — not a weekly chore.

If things don’t work out, the worst thing you can do is blame yourself. This can put you back. But that’s an unlikely scenario, as most couples carry on happily. Do what you can and your erection will look after itself. With a bit of positivity and empathy, you’ll be back on the love train in no time.

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  • hair

Am I going bald? The top signs of balding

Your friends probably won’t give you a straight answer. Your barber might make the occasional "umm" when he’s back there and your other half might try and bring it up over dinner.

When you first discover (and admit to yourself) your hair isn’t what it used to be, it’s easy to be surprised and likely a bit upset. We don’t blame you. It can be a shock.

But it doesn’t have to be a big deal. There are things you can do and treatments that actually work. Remember, we’ve got your back. We’ll help you understand what male pattern baldness is, what causes baldness, how to treat it and how to prevent going bald.

No comb-overs here.

What is male pattern baldness?

Male pattern baldness (MPB) is the most common type of baldness in men. It’s a type of baldness in which hair thins and is lost in a typical pattern. It usually only affects the head, and no hair is lost elsewhere on the body.

Unfortunately, MPB is common. Around 50% of all men experience it by age 50. It can happen as early as your teens and twenties though, so keep an eye out for it, even if you’re young.

What are the signs of balding?

With MPB, hair thins and is lost in a typical pattern. If your hair is thinning and being lost in this way, you most likely have MPB.

Receding and M-shaped hairline

Hair is usually lost first at the hairline at the front of the head, and especially at the corners. This is what’s known as a receding hairline. It often creates an M-shape in the hairline too, as hair recedes faster at the corners than in the centre.

A bald spot on top

This may happen as a second step, or at the same time as the hairline recedes, or it can even be the first sign. Hair thins and starts to be lost around the crown at the top and the back of the head.

Hair loss increases and comb-overs are considered

Over time hair loss usually increases. It happens at different speeds in different people, but typically the hairline recedes further, and the bald patch spreads over the top of the head. Less hair is lost around the sides and the very back of the head, tempting some men to opt for the comb-over, where hair is grown long at the sides and back, and then combed over the top of the head to cover up any baldness.

Hair loss stops, or goes all the way

Hair loss often stops at this point, leaving a few wisps on top, with hair at the side and back. In some men it goes all the way though until all the hair is lost from the head.

What causes male pattern baldness?

There are three main causes, and they’re related:

Sensitivity to testosterone

Male pattern baldness is mainly caused by a sensitivity to a hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a type of testosterone. It causes the hair follicles in your scalp (the holes which hair grows out of) to shrink. As the follicles shrink, the hairs have less time to grow and they become shorter and thinner over time. Eventually the follicles shrink so much they can’t grow hair at all. There’s a myth that men with more testosterone are more likely to go bald, but it’s not true. It’s how sensitive the follicles are to DHT which causes the baldness, not how much of it there is.


How sensitive the hair follicles on your head are to DHT is partly caused by your genes - MPB tends to run in the family. If your dad, older brothers, uncles, and grandfathers had MPB, then you may have inherited the genes that contribute to it too.


You’re more likely to get MPB as you get older, but it’s not fully understood why. It may simply be that it takes time for hair follicles to shrink, so although MPB might start in your teens, the effect only becomes visible years later.

What other causes of baldness are there?

Male pattern baldness is the most common cause of hair loss in men, but there are others too, like:

  • Scalp infections
  • Alopecia
  • Diseases, like anaemia
  • Thyroid problems
  • Stress
  • Diet deficiencies, such as not enough iron or too much vitamin A
  • Medications, such as blood thinners
  • Anabolic steroids
  • Radiation and chemotherapy

With these causes, the hair is usually lost quickly, rather than gradually thinning over time. The hair typically returns too, once these causes are dealt with. That isn’t the case with MPB though. Hair won’t return or grow thicker again unless some very specific actions are taken.

What can I do about male pattern baldness?

  1. Act fast - First off, if you want to halt MPB and reverse it, you need to act as soon as you see the first signs of hair loss; that receding hair line and any thinning on top.
  2. Ignore the pseudoscience - There’s a lot of nonsense told online and between men about how to fight hair loss. All sorts of secret natural remedies, vitamins, special light treatments, and alternative quick fixes. Steer well clear of these though. There’s usually zero scientific evidence behind them, and if they really worked, then they wouldn’t be secrets. Everyone would know about them and use them. Remember, treatments that actually work become popular.
  3. Try Propecia - Or the generic version called finasteride, is one of the few real treatments that can be effective in combating MPB. It’s usually taken as a pill, and it works by reducing DHT levels in the scalp, keeping hairs growing for longer, slowing hair loss, and even reversing the signs of MPB for most men. Fuller, thicker hair can often be seen in as little as three months.
  4. Try other treatments for male pattern baldness - Other options which have been proven to help include minoxidil (the generic drug sold under the brand name Regaine), which is applied directly to the scalp, and has also been proven to be effective in reversing MPB. Ketoconazole shampoos, such as Nizoral, have also been shown to be effective at fighting MPB, especially when used together with another treatment, like finasteride.

It’s never good when you first realise you’re going bald. But it doesn’t have to be the end of the road for your hair. While male pattern baldness used to be irreversible, now you don’t have to accept it. Treatments like finasteride, can halt and even reverse it.

So, avoid the fake cures and the scams, talk to an expert, and stick to the scientifically proven treatments FROM MARS.

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  • skin

Are cold sores herpes? What you need to know

There’s lots of misinformation and confusion about cold sores and herpes. People have questions that often aren’t answered clearly, like are cold sores and herpes the same thing, can cold sores on your face cause genital herpes, and do you have a sexually transmitted infection if you have cold sores?

Maybe you’ve got a cold sore, and you have some of these questions? That’s what we’re here for. We’ll let you know everything you need to know about cold sores, herpes, and sex. And we’re going to make it clear and super-simple.

What are cold sores?

Cold sores are small blisters that appear on your face, usually around or on your lips, but they can form elsewhere too, like on your cheeks or chin. They usually contain a clear liquid, and they usually burst and crust over. They typically last for around two weeks.

Are cold sores herpes?

Yes. Cold sores are caused by a herpes infection. This might sound scary, but herpes is a condition that can be effectively managed.

What is herpes?

Herpes is the name of a group of viruses, called herpes simplex viruses (HSV) that usually infect the skin. Cold sores are most often caused by an infection of the herpes simplex 1 strain of the virus (HSV-1).

How does herpes cause cold sores?

The herpes virus spreads between people by skin-to-skin contact, such as by being kissed by someone who has the cold sore blisters present on their face. The virus gets into the body through an opening, such as a cut or through your mouth. Once inside, it multiplies and spreads through the surrounding skin cells, causing the blisters to form on you.

Once you’ve been infected, the virus takes up residence in the nerve cells in your skin. Most of the time you won’t have any symptoms but now and again the virus spreads out of the nerve cells and through the skin causing another outbreak or flare up.

What does a herpes sore look like?

The sores can look different by person, but they typically look like this:

  • The herpes sores usually start off as very small pink or white bumps.
  • The bumps redden and grow into blisters, and they often fill with a clear liquid.
  • The blisters may burst to form sores. They then crust over to form a patch of hard, dry, itchy skin.

What is genital herpes?

Genital herpes is an infection of the herpes virus in the skin on and around the genitals, anus, or buttocks. Whereas cold sores are usually caused by the HSV-1 virus, genital herpes is usually caused by the HSV-2 version of the virus

Can cold sores cause genital herpes?

Yes, they can. Genital herpes can also be caused by an infection of the HSV-1 virus on and around the genitals. It can be passed from face to genitals through oral sex, but also by touching the face and then touching the genitals. You can even pass a herpes infection from your face to your own genitals. This means you should avoid sex and oral sex if you or your partner have an outbreak of cold sores, and you should both wash your hands often with an antibacterial wash.

Do cold sores mean you have an STI?

Cold sores are not considered a sexually transmitted infection (STI), but genital herpes is as it’s most often caught through having sex with someone with genital herpes.

How common are herpes infections?

Herpes viruses are highly contagious; they spread easily from person to person, meaning they’re more common than you might think. It’s estimated that 67% of the world’s population is infected with the HSV-1 virus, and nearly 10% are infected with HSV-2.

Why don’t some people get symptoms of herpes?

Some people can be infected with a herpes virus but show no symptoms. Scientists don’t yet understand why these people never get blisters or sores, but they can still be contagious and pass the virus to others.

How do I protect myself against cold sores and genital herpes?

Herpes viruses are common and contagious, so they are very easy to catch, but you can try the following to help protect yourself:

  • Don’t kiss anyone with cold sores or have oral sex with them, as they’re most contagious when the sores are present. Wait for seven days after they’ve cleared up before you kiss or have oral sex
  • Don’t have sex with anyone who has visible genital sores, as they’re most contagious when the sores are present. Wait for seven days after they’ve cleared up before you have sex
  • Use protection such as condoms when you have sex with someone with genital herpes when the sores aren’t present, as they can still pass the infection on through their bodily fluids
  • Don’t share sex toys with someone who has genital herpes. Herpes usually can’t be passed by sharing objects like towels or by sitting on the same toilet seat, as the virus dies quickly when away from the body, but there is a chance of transmitting it by sharing sex toys
  • If you’re in contact with someone who has cold sores or genital sores, try not to touch them, and use an antibacterial wash to regularly clean your hands just in case

Can I take medications for cold sores and genital herpes?

If you catch a herpes virus, unfortunately, it’s with you for life. The virus takes up residence in your body, and there’s no cure that can remove it for good. You can take medications to help manage the condition though. Valaciclovir and Valtrex are antiviral drugs which can help limit the severity of outbreaks, clear them up quicker, and reduce the pain. They can even be taken to lessen the chances of an outbreak happening.

You can order valaciclovir or Valtrex directly from us at FROM MARS. Start an online consultation by entering your medical history and symptoms. If approved, you’ll receive a treatment plan from our doctors within two hours, and your meds will be shipped for free to your door the next day.

Although there’s a lot of myth and misinformation around cold sores, herpes, and genital herpes, there shouldn’t be. It can be easy to understand what they are and what causes them if explained simply. We hope this guide helps.

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  • sex

Advice for living with genital herpes

Are you worried you might have genital herpes? Have you been diagnosed with it and don’t know what to do? Are you anxious about how it could affect your life and are you scared about telling your partner?

The first thing is to try not to panic. There are plenty of people in the world living with genital herpes. We’re here for you. What you need is clear and actionable advice to understand how to live a normal life with genital herpes.

What is genital herpes?

Genital herpes is an infection. It’s caused by a type of virus called a herpes simplex virus (HSV) that infects your skin on different parts of your body. You’ve probably already seen herpes infections, as when they infect the face they cause cold sores. Genital herpes is when a herpes infection infects the skin on and around the genitals. Cold sores are usually caused by the HSV-1 version of the virus, and genital herpes by the HSV-2 version, but both can cause genital herpes and cold sores.

What are the symptoms of genital herpes?

These differ a bit from person to person, but in men, the symptoms are usually:

  • Blisters and sores, like cold sores, that form on and around the genitals, on and around the anus, and across the buttocks
  • The blisters and the surrounding area can tingle, itch, ache and become painful
  • You can feel pain when peeing
  • You can also feel flu-like symptoms, like a fever, fatigue, aching muscles, and swollen glands, but this is most common with the first outbreak

Can genital herpes be cured?

No, unfortunately when you get the infection you have it for life. There’s no way to permanently remove the herpes virus from your body, but there are medications that can help manage it. We’ll get to those.

What is a genital herpes flair up?

When you have genital herpes, most of the time you have no symptoms, as the virus is dormant. But every now and then the virus reactivates and causes another outbreak of symptoms, more blisters, more itching and aching, and more pain when peeing. This is called a flare-up, or sometimes an outbreak.

Usually, the very first outbreak is the worst, and they get milder and less common over time. On average, outbreaks happen between one to five times a year, but they can happen more often in the first year of your infection.

How do you catch genital herpes?

The herpes virus spreads by skin-to-skin contact, such as having sex with someone with genital herpes, or even by touching someone’s infected skin and then touching your own genitals.

Can you catch genital herpes from cold sores?

Yes, the virus which usually causes cold sores (HSV-1), can also cause genital herpes, so you can catch genital herpes if someone with cold sores gives you oral sex, or if they touch their face and then your genitals.

Is genital herpes a sexually transmitted infection (STI)?

Yes. Because genital herpes is most often passed by sexual contact, by vaginal, anal, and oral sex, it’s counted as a sexually transmitted infection (STI), sometimes called a sexually transmitted disease (STD).

How common is genital herpes?

If you have genital herpes, it’s easy to feel lonely, that you’re one of the few people to have it, but that’s not the case. Genital herpes is more common than you may think. It’s thought to be one of the most common STIs, with almost half a billion people under the age of 50 worldwide estimated to have genital herpes.

Can I live a normal life with genital herpes?

Firstly, you can’t ignore it. If you have symptoms that you think are genital herpes you need to be seen by a healthcare professional to be tested to make sure it is genital herpes and not something else. You need to understand that if you have genital herpes there isn’t a cure, but there are treatments that can help you manage it, and there are actions you’ll need to take to make sure you don’t pass the virus on to someone else.

How do I get tested for genital herpes?

You should make an appointment at a sexual health clinic (you can see your doctor, but they’ll likely refer you to a sexual health clinic anyway). You should do so as soon as the blisters appear, as you can only be tested when the blisters are present. Find your nearest sexual health clinic.

What happens when I get tested for genital herpes?

The doctor or nurse at the clinic will ask you about your symptoms and your sexual history. They’ll take a look at the blisters and take a swab from them which can be tested to confirm if you have a herpes infection, or if they’re a symptom of something else. They’ll also give you advice on what to do now and how to talk to your partner.

What to do if you’re diagnosed with genital herpes?

Being diagnosed with genital herpes can come as a shock. You'll need to first treat the outbreak and think about telling your partner. Try the following advice 

Treating the genital herpes outbreak

The first thing to do is treat the outbreak. When you’re diagnosed with genital herpes, you may be given an antiviral medicine to help clear the outbreak up faster and a cream to help with any pain. It can also help to clean the affected skin with warm, salty water to stop the sores from getting infected. Try applying an ice-pack wrapped in a flannel to help soothe any pain. You can even try pouring water over your genitals when you pee to reduce the pain too.

Don’t have sex whilst you have your outbreak

You’re at your most contagious when you have symptoms. As soon as you feel the first signs of an outbreak, usually a tingling in the affected areas, you should avoid sex. Don’t have sex while you have symptoms, even if you use a condom, as the condom likely won’t cover all the infected skin. Wait at least seven days after the symptoms have completely cleared up before you have sex again.

Tell your partner you have genital herpes

You’ll have to tell any sexual partners you have that you’ve got genital herpes. They have a right to know that having sex with you carries a risk that they could catch it too. There’s also a chance that an existing partner may already have genital herpes, but hasn’t realised, as the symptoms can take months to appear. Read more about how to speak to your partner about it.

Reducing the risks of transmitting genital herpes

Herpes is very contagious and easily transmitted. You can try the following to minimise your chances of passing it on:

  • Don’t have any form of sexual contact, like foreplay, oral sex, vaginal and anal sex, when you have an outbreak
  • Use condoms when you have sex when you haven’t got an outbreak, as the virus can still be transmitted in your semen
  • Take an antiviral medication to deal with outbreaks faster or to prevent them from happening
  • Know what triggers your outbreaks, and try to avoid these triggers

Genital herpes medications

Although medications won’t cure genital herpes, you can take treatments that can help you manage the infection. Valaciclovir and Valtrex are antiviral medications which can help limit the severity of outbreaks, clear them up quicker, and reduce the pain. They can even be taken to lessen the chances of an outbreak happening.

What triggers can cause a genital herpes flair up?

Genital herpes outbreaks are often caused by particular triggers, like getting stressed, overly tired, or by getting another illness like a cold. Although you can’t get rid of outbreaks entirely, you can limit the number you do have by working out what triggers them for you, and then avoiding these triggers. You might like to try some of the following:

  • Find ways to reduce and manage your stress. Meditation, going to the gym, watching football, playing video games might all be options. Find out whatever works to calm and relax you, as long as it’s healthy.
  • Take care of yourself. Eat well, exercise, get enough sleep, avoid running yourself down as this makes it more likely you’ll have an outbreak.
  • Use lubrication during sex. The friction from sex can irritate the skin and trigger outbreaks in some people, so using lubrication can help. Use a proper lubrication product though, not anything slippery and wet that you happen to find by the bed as some substances can irritate and damage the skin even more.

Finding out you have genital herpes can be a shock. You might feel like your sex life is over, but that isn’t the case. As long as you’re careful and you manage your infection, you can still lead a normal life with genital herpes.

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  • hair

Does masturbation cause hair loss?

The link between masturbation and hair loss isn't a new one.

People have been spreading this false claim for years, but it's no truer now than it was back then. The moral of this story? Don’t believe everything you read online.

To set the record straight, we've decided to debunk this myth and several others. In this guide, we’ll give you the truth about masturbation, male pattern baldness, alopecia and hair thinning.

Can testosterone from masturbating cause hair loss?

Every man produces the hormone testosterone. It’s the hormone responsible for muscle mass and libido. That’s important because one of the biggest myths about masturbation and hair loss involves testosterone. According to non-experts, testosterone increases when you masturbate. The reason they say this is because testosterone produces a sex hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Like testosterone, DHT gives men their male characteristics, including chest and back hair. But ironically, while DHT promotes body hair growth, it can cause male baldness when it binds to the hair follicle receptors in your scalp.

The link between testosterone and DHT is 100% true, but the claim that masturbating increases testosterone production is not. Medical experts have proven this time and time again, and their observations are backed by a major study. The findings show that adult males who abstained from masturbation for three weeks produced more testosterone than those that didn’t.

Essentially, you can masturbate freely without worrying about your hair receding, thinning or going.

Can masturbation cause hair loss through lost proteins?

The answer is a categorical no. Yes, your hair follicles are made up of protein. And yes, semen contains protein as well. But the amount you lose through masturbating is so minimal that it’s not worth talking about.

To put this into perspective, there’s about 26g of protein in a handful of peanuts and 5.4g of protein in 100ml of semen. Most men will only really ejaculate 3.7ml of semen at a time, so straight away you can see how tenuous the link between masturbation and protein is. Get enough in your diet and you’ll have no issues.

And what about prolactin and masturbation?

Prolactin is another hormone that’s wrapped up in DIY science. Like many hormones, the role of prolactin is to regulate varying parts of the body. When you ejaculate, the level of prolactin in your body increases slightly. Some people have drawn a loose link between this prolactin increase and hair loss. However just like with protein, the increase in prolactin from ejaculating is so small that you can forget about it being a reason for any hair loss you’re experiencing. 

High levels of prolactin can be caused by a tumour in your pituitary gland, and this can result in hair loss as well as thyroid problems. 

Three common masturbation and hair loss questions answered

1. Will DHT from masturbating make my hair fall out?

No, when it comes to dihydrotestosterone and masturbation, you have nothing to worry about. Studies have shown that abstaining from masturbation actually causes testosterone to go up, which produces DHT. Either way, you’re fine. If you’re experiencing male pattern baldness and DHT is the cause, it’s likely because your scalp is more sensitive due to hereditary reasons.

2. Will masturbating reduce my protein levels?

Being deficient in protein can contribute to hair loss; however, per gram, there’s more protein in eggs, poultry, dairy, legumes and many other foods than a ml of semen. If you have specific dietary requirements and are worried about your protein intake, there are plenty of supplements, and protein shakes out there.

3. Should I stop masturbating because of prolactin?

Don’t get drawn in by the soft science around prolactin. Yes, it’s a known fact that hormonal imbalances are a contributor to hair loss — our guide to hair loss and your thyroid will give you more information on this — but there are still blatant problems with this line of thinking. Yes, a small amount of prolactin is released after masturbation or after you have sex, but the amount is so tiny that it wouldn’t contribute to hair loss. There are people who do produce too much prolactin, but this is often because of a tumour in the pituitary gland.

What treatments are available to hair loss sufferers?

Most people masturbate, and you shouldn’t stop because you’ve read that masturbation causes hair loss. Often the cause is hereditary, but a poor diet, a vitamin deficiency, stress, hormonal imbalances and thyroid issues can also be the hidden culprit. If you’re concerned about any of these, or if you believe your hair loss is still unexplained, your first point of call should be your doctor. They can conduct blood or semen tests to rule out any concerns.

If your hair is receding and you know the cause is hereditary, it will be comforting to know that there are effective treatment options available. The medication we provide is finasteride, which is also sold under the brand name Propecia. Finasteride has been medically proven to slow down the process of balding in the majority of men. You’ll find information about both on our hair loss product pages. Alternatively, the FROM MARS blog is updated regularly with advice on hair loss, treatments, and the impact of other conditions and factors like stress.

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  • sex

Can you get genital herpes without having sex?

Herpes is one of the most common and widespread viral infections in the world, partly because it’s so easy to transmit. But if you practice safe sex, you can’t catch herpes, right?

Unfortunately, no. Safe sex isn’t enough. And the real kicker is that there are other ways you catch herpes that don’t even involve sex. Here’s what you need to know.

What is herpes?

Herpes is a name of a family of viruses that can infect people. The herpes viruses cause a range of diseases, but most often they cause skin infections, which result in blisters, pain, and swelling and inflammation. When a herpes virus infects your face, it can cause cold sores, and when a herpes virus infects the skin on and around your genitals and your anus, it causes genital herpes.

When someone catches a herpes infection, unfortunately they have it for life. Most of the time the virus lies dormant in their body and there are no signs that they’re infected, but every now and then the virus reactivates and causes a fresh outbreak of symptoms.

How is herpes transmitted?

The herpes virus is usually spread from person to person by direct skin-to-skin contact. If someone has blisters and sores, the virus is usually living on their infected skin. You could catch the virus by touching someone’s infected skin, or by them touching you.

The virus can also be found in peoples’ body fluids, like their saliva, semen, or vaginal mucus, so you can also catch a herpes infection by coming into contact with these.

Can I only catch herpes when someone has an outbreak?

No. Even when someone has no symptoms, the virus can be active in their body.

The virus could have reactivated and be present on someone’s skin and in their body fluids, but it could take a few days for the symptoms to become noticeable.

Some people with herpes infections never have any symptoms either. The virus could be active, they could be passing it on to others, and they aren’t even aware that they have an infection.

Can you get herpes without being sexually active?

Yes. Herpes can be transmitted through innocent body contact, like someone touching you with the virus on their fingers. Cold sores can be passed through kissing, and herpes can even be transmitted from a mother to her baby during pregnancy and childbirth.

Can you get herpes if you are a virgin?

Yes. You can get herpes from being touched by someone with the virus on their hands, from kissing, and from ‘first’ and ‘second base’ activities like foreplay and oral sex.

Is it possible to have unprotected sex and not catch herpes?

If you have unprotected sex with someone who has genital herpes then you’re not guaranteed to catch it, but you are playing with fire. Herpes infections are highly contagious and very easy to catch, so although you aren’t guaranteed to catch it, you have a high chance.

OK. Let’s get down to it and look at some specifics about how you can catch herpes infections:

Transmitting herpes through sex

We’ll start with the way most people associate with contracting herpes. Sex.

Sexual contact is the most common way that genital herpes is transmitted. You can catch it by having vaginal or anal sex with someone who has an infection, either by coming into contact with the virus on their infected skin, or via their body fluids.

You can also catch herpes from oral sex. If you go down on someone who has genital herpes, the infection can pass to your face, resulting in cold sores. The opposite can happen too. If someone with cold sores goes down on you, they can give you genital herpes.

You can even transmit herpes infections from just foreplay. If you touch an infected person’s genitals and then touch your own, or if they touch their genitals and then touch yours, you can catch their infection that way too.

But what if I practice safe sex?

If your partner has genital herpes, practicing safe sex can reduce the chances of you catching herpes, but it won’t reduce your chances to zero.

If you’re with a partner who has an outbreak, you shouldn’t have sex at all, as a condom likely won’t stop your skin coming into contact with their infected skin.

If your partner has genital herpes, but doesn’t have symptoms, then remember you can still catch their virus. Protection, like condoms and dental dams, can minimise your chances, but won’t be a perfect prevention.

Transmitting herpes without having sex

So, herpes, particularly genital herpes, is most often transmitted by sex, but there are other ways you can catch a herpes infection too:


Kissing spreads cold sores. Lip-to-lip contact can pass the virus from person to person, but the virus can also be found in saliva, so it can be transferred even if the infected person doesn’t have an outbreak of cold sores.

Non-sexual contact

Herpes infections can be transmitted through more innocent forms of bodily contact too, particularly in the case of cold sores. If someone with cold sores touches their face, or if someone with genital herpes touches themselves down there, they can get the virus on their fingers, and then they can pass the infection on by touching someone with those fingers. You could also touch someone’s infected skin and then transfer the virus to your body by touching yourself.

Indirect contact

In theory, you can catch herpes by sharing objects with someone who’s infected, such as using the same towel or drinking from the same glass. This is very unlikely though, as the virus dies quickly when it’s away from the human body. You can try to avoid sharing objects with someone who has herpes, especially when they have an outbreak, but you shouldn’t worry too much about this, as it’s unlikely to happen.

One exception though is sex toys. Sharing toys, or any other object that comes into contact with, or is placed inside an infected person’s vagina or anus when you have sex, can pass the virus on. If your partner has herpes, don’t share sex toys.

Pregnancy and birth

It is possible for a woman with herpes to pass her infection on to her baby. The virus can be transmitted when the baby is still in her womb through the placenta, or during birth if the mother has live virus around her vagina. Transmitting the virus this way is relatively uncommon though.

The reality is that herpes is very easy to catch, even if you practice safe sex. You can take steps to minimise your chances of catching a herpes infection, but you can never guarantee you’ll be totally protected. If you are diagnosed with genital herpes, medications such as valaciclovir are highly effective in managing the condition and you can still lead a normal life. 

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  • hair

How much hair loss is normal?

You’ve noticed a few more hairs blocking the shower. There’s been a couple of strays on your pillow and now you’re starting to panic. You’re already thinking about a comb over or going full on Statham. Slow down.

Losing hair is normal. Old hairs naturally fall out to make way for new ones. But if you are losing more hair than it is being replaced, that’s when you may be experiencing male pattern baldness.

So, how can you tell if your hair loss is normal?

How much hair loss is normal in a day?

On average, people lose around 50 to 100 hairs a day. That might sound like a lot, especially if you’re picturing 100 hairs clogging up your shower every day, but it actually isn’t too much.

People usually have around 100,000 to 150,000 hairs on their head, so losing 100 hairs a day is at most 0.10% of your hair. And this type of hair loss doesn’t make you go bald either, as it’s all part of the natural growth cycle of hair.

How much hair loss is normal in the shower?

Of the 50 to 100 hairs you lose on average per day, you tend to lose more of these when you’re touching your hair. If you style your hair, use combs and brushes, and wash your hair in the shower, you may remove the majority of the old hairs that have reached the end of their growth cycle. So don’t be surprised to see a fair amount of hair on the bottom of the shower.

Your hair’s natural growth cycle

The hair on your body undergoes a continuous growth cycle, which has four stages:

Stage 1: Growth (anagen phase). A hair follicle (the holes in your skin that hair grows out of) produces a new hair. This strand of hair grows thicker and longer, until it reaches its full length.

Stage 2: Regression (catagen phase). The strand of hair detaches from the follicle. It stays attached to the skin, but it stops growing.

Stage 3: Resting (telogen phase). A new strand of hair starts to grow from the follicle beneath the older hair that’s just detached from it.

Stage 4: Shedding (exogen phase). The old hair breaks away from the skin and falls out. The new hair beneath it begins to emerge, and we’re back to stage 1.

So you can see that normal hair loss (stage 4), called shedding, doesn’t make you go bald, as a new hair emerges from the follicle and grows to take its place.

Why is so much of my hair falling out?

The main cause of hair loss in men is male pattern baldness. This usually causes hair to thin and recede over time though, as hairs stop being replaced when they fall out. If you’re experiencing rapid hair loss, then you may have a medical condition which is causing it, and you should speak to a doctor as soon as you can.

What is male pattern baldness?

There are lots of things that can make your hair fall out, like illnesses, bad nutrition, stress, drugs, and medical treatments. This type of hair loss is usually temporary however, meaning hair returns once the cause is dealt with. When people talk about baldness, they’re usually not talking about these types of hair loss, they’re talking about something more permanent. Male pattern baldness (MPB), also called androgenetic alopecia, is the most common type of baldness, affecting up to 80% of men at some point in our lives. It’s different from shedding, as it’s caused by hair follicles shrinking over time. As the follicles shrink the hairs growing out of them become progressively thinner and shorter. Eventually the follicle shrinks so much, that when an old hair falls out, a new hair can’t emerge at all.

So MPB is different from shedding, as eventually no new hairs replace the ones that are lost.

How do I tell if I’m shedding hair or if I have male pattern baldness?

The clue is in the name. It’s called male pattern baldness, as the hair loss usually follows a typical pattern. Thinning and hair loss happens in specific areas, rather than evenly all over your head.

With MPB, the follicles usually begin to shrink first along your hairline, particularly at the corners, and on the crown of your head (towards the back of the top of your head). As hair thins and recedes at the corners of your hair line, it can create an M-shape, where you have a peak in the middle and losses at the sides. As hair thins and is lost on your crown, your scalp begins to show through your hair.

So if you notice your hair thinning in these areas rather than even hair loss, it’s probably not normal hair shedding and is MPB. Read more about the causes and stages of MPB.

Also, MPB is partly genetic. If other men in your family have it, you’re not guaranteed to get it too, but you are much more likely. If MPB runs in your family, you should pay particular attention to your hairline and your crown, as the faster you spot MPB, the easier it is to treat. Be vigilant.

How to treat male pattern baldness?

MPB used to be untreatable. There were loads of quack treatments, but nothing that reliably stopped hair loss, let alone reversed it. But thankfully, science has come to the rescue and there are a number of treatments for MPB today that actually work. And the best of these is finasteride.

Finasteride, also sold under the brand name Propecia, is a treatment for MPB. It’s taken as a pill and it works by reducing the amount of male hormone in the scalp which causes the follicles to shrink. It’s one of the few treatments for MPB that actually works. Finasteride has been found to stop hair loss in around 80% of men, and around 66% see their hair returning and thickening.

Remember, it’s normal to lose hair as it’s all part of the natural growth cycle. However, if you have MPB it isn’t part of the cycle and is something you need to tackle as soon as you spot the signs.

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  • skin

Skin care for acne

It can feel like you’re constantly fighting a losing battle when it comes to your acne, but a daily skin care routine for acne can work wonders.

Clearing your follicles, removing excess oil and fighting bacteria can all make a huge difference. But with so many products and claims out there, where do you even start? It’s all about finding what works for you and sticking to it.

This is what you really need to know about looking after your acne-prone skin.

What is acne and what causes it?

To understand how best to care for acne-prone skin, you need to understand what acne is and what causes it.

Acne is a skin condition which causes various types of spots. The spots can become infected with bacteria, which can cause inflammation and sometimes permanent scarring.

You get acne when your follicles (the small holes in your skin which hairs grow out of) become blocked, usually by dead skin cells or sebum (the natural oil your skin produces). Once the follicle is blocked it can form a black head or white head, and if it becomes infected, it can grow into one of the different kinds of acne including papules, pustules, nodules, and cysts.

What is the best skin care for acne prone skin?

You need a skin care routine that removes excess oil and dead skin from your face, unblocks and clears your follicles, and which fights infection. You should use mild, unscented products which don’t contain alcohol, to avoid irritating your face.

Will I have to use lots of expensive products to care for acne prone skin?

Not necessarily. You’ll need to use a couple of different products as part of a full skin care routine and you’ll need to experiment to find which one’s suit you best. But sometimes the cheaper brands of these products work just as well as the more expensive ones, sometimes even better.

Should I moisturise at night if I have acne?

You should moisturise as part of your acne skin care routine, and you should do so at least once a day. Usually people moisturise in the morning, particularly if their moisturiser also protects their skin from the sun. But you can moisturise in the evening if that suits you better, and you may have to moisturise both in the morning and evening if your skin dries out easily.

How do you take care of acne skin?

Now on the skin care routine itself.

Step 1: Cleanse your face

You need to start your skin care routine by cleansing your face to remove excess oil, sweat, and dirt. Think of this as clearing the way for your other skin care products.

Rather than just using soap and water, you should use a cleanser specifically intended for treating acne, such as one that contains salicylic acid or benzoyl-peroxide (you can buy these over the counter). However, if you’re also using prescription acne medications, it may be better to use something gentler, ideally a mild, unscented cleanser.

You don’t need to be too harsh with your skin when cleansing. Use warm, but not hot water, and don’t rub too hard. Clean gently with your fingertips or with a soft cloth.

Do this every morning, but if you have an active day playing sport or getting sweaty, cleanse your face again in the evening.

Step 2: Use a toner or astringent

Toners are another product which help clean your skin, and they can also make your follicles shrink, reducing the likelihood that they’ll become blocked. Astringents are products designed to remove excess oil from your skin, which also helps prevent your follicles from becoming clogged.

While both toners and astringents can help reduce the likelihood and severity of acne outbreaks, they may not be suitable for everyone as they can dry your skin, as well as irritating sensitive skin. To limit the chances of this happening, use products that don’t contain any alcohol and choose ones designed for sensitive skin. If you find they still irritate your skin, skip this step.

Step 3: Apply your acne treatment

After your face has dried, apply a topical acne treatment.

Over the counter options include acne creams that contain salicylic acid or azelaic acid. These acids can have a mild exfoliant effect and help treat acne by removing dead skin cells and more effectively clearing blocked follicles.

Prescription medication may be more suitable for moderate to severe acne. Some prescription medications contain stronger acids, like retinoic acids, which can be even more effective at cleaning follicles and removing dead skin. Others include creams and gels containing antibiotics, which can help fight bacterial infections that accompany acne, reducing inflammation, and lowering the risk of scarring.

We recommend a product which combines both an acid and an antibiotic, as it gives you the benefits of both in one treatment. Treclin is a gel you apply to your face which contains a retinoic acid (tretinoin) and an antibiotic (clindamycin). It can help clear your follicles, remove dead skin and oil, kill bacteria, and reduce inflammation.

Step 4: Moisturise

Acne treatments can dry your skin out, so moisturise at the end of your skin care routine to rehydrate your skin. This will help to stop your skin becoming sore, will reduce peeling and rashes, and limit any discoloration due to dryness.

Use a mild moisturiser, ideally one without any scent, as these will be kinder to your skin. You can buy moisturisers specifically formulated for oily skin too, which should help limit further blocking of your follicles.

Go for a moisturiser that’s designed specifically for faces too, rather than an all-body moisturiser, as these can be oily.

Step 5: Sunscreen

One for your morning routine rather than the evening.

Whilst some sunlight can be good for your skin, it can also dry it out and encourage more sebum oil to be produced. The sun can also make it harder for your skin to shed dead skin cells, all of which can make it more likely for your follicles to be blocked. Some skin care products can make your face more sensitive to damage from the sun too.

There are certain moisturisers that contain SPF (sun protection factor) meaning you might be able to do steps 4 and 5 with only one product.

Experiment to find what’s right for you

Everyone’s skin is different, so you’ll need to experiment to find out what works best for you. You might find that toners or astringents aren’t right for your skin, and you’ll find that some brands work better than others. Remember that the cheaper ones often work just as well as the expensive ones, sometimes even better.

Stay consistent

A daily skin care routine won’t banish your acne entirely, but it can help keep you skin as clear and blemish free as possible, especially if you’re consistent. If you take care of your skin on a daily basis, you’ll see the best results.

Don’t worry if you miss a day here and there. No one’s perfect, and sometimes life gets in the way, but try your best to care for your skin every morning, and every evening if necessary. Try to make it part of your daily routine, so you do it without even thinking.

Now you should have a good foundation for an acne skin care routine to help you deal with acne. You might find some steps don’t work for you or you may find that other skin care products help.

It’s all about working out what works best for you.

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  • hair

DHT and male pattern baldness

Is your hair looking and feeling a bit thin? Have you noticed it starting to go on top and recede at the front? If you have, that sounds like it’s probably male pattern baldness (MPB). Don’t stress though, it’s common and most guys get it at some point in their lives. You can even treat it these days.

Here’s a bit of the science. We’ll tell you about DHT, how it’s at the root of baldness, and how DHT blockers can be used to fight MPB.

How do I know if I have male pattern baldness?

Male pattern baldness gets its name because men usually lose hair in a specific pattern. If you notice your hair thinning on the top of your head towards the back (your crown), and/or your hairline receding at the front of your head, particularly at the corners, then this could well be the first signs of MPB.

If other men in your family have MPB, it makes even more likely you’ll have it too, as it runs in families. If your dad or uncles or older brothers have MPB, there’s a good chance you’ll develop it too. Read more about identifying MPB.

What causes male pattern baldness?

If you’ve been reading about this online, you may have found it confusing. And we don’t blame you. Some sites say MPB is caused by your genes, others by ageing, others by hormones like testosterone, others by a mixture, but often it isn’t very clear.

Scientists themselves are still debating the causes of MPB, and there’s still a lot to understand, which is why things aren’t always that clear. But that doesn’t mean we can’t make what we do know as clear and simple as possible.

DHT causes male pattern baldness

Most scientists believe that MPB is mostly caused by a hormone called dihydrotestosterone, or DHT for short. We say mostly as the science of MPB is complex, and there are other factors involved, but DHT seems to be the main one. Let’s break this down:

What is DHT?

  • DHT is a hormone, which is a type of molecule produced by glands in your body. Hormones are released by your glands, they travel your circulatory system, and they bind with your organs to regulate how they work.
  • DHT is called a ‘male sex hormone’ or an ‘androgen’ because it plays a role in the development of male characteristics, like the growth of your penis and testicles during puberty, as well as the development of facial hair and pubic hair, and a deeper voice.
  • DHT is made from the hormone testosterone. An enzyme called 5α-reductase (5-AR) converts around 5% to 7% of the testosterone in your body into DHT, and this happens in certain tissues and organs, like in your genitals, skin, brain, liver, and hair follicles.

How does DHT cause male pattern baldness?

So DHT is a hormone which binds to organs in your body to affect how they work.

One type of organ DHT can bind to is called a hair follicle, which is a structure in your skin which produces hair. Free testosterone is converted to DHT in your hair follicles, and then the DHT binds to the follicles at specific sites called receptors (think of the DHT molecule as a key, and the receptor as a keyhole that matches the key). In most areas of your body, the DHT encourages the follicle to grow a strand of hair.

But the hair follicles in your scalp are an exception. When DHT binds to the follicles in your scalp, it causes them to shrink. As the follicles shrink over time, they produce gradually shorter and finer hair, until the follicle eventually closes up, and no hair is produced at all. This is why your hair thins with MPB before you go bald.

In really basic terms, DHT causes male pattern baldness by making the hair follicles in your scalp shrink. But why does this occur in some men more than others?

Do men with male pattern baldness have more DHT?

You’ll often hear or read that it’s not the amount of DHT a man has, but how sensitive his hair follicles are to it that determines whether or not he’ll develop MPB. The science isn’t so clear though, as men who have MPB also tend to have higher levels of DHT, so it may be a combination of more DHT and increased sensitivity to it.

Why does male pattern baldness run in families?

MPB is partly genetic, which means certain genes make it more likely you’ll develop MPB. These genes can be passed on to you from your parents.

There’s a lot of misinformation about this, both online and off, with a common myth being that you inherit the gene for MPB from your mother, so if your father has MPB, you can’t be sure you’ll get it too. The truth is that MPB is more complex than this, with at least 250 genes involved, many of which come from both parents. If your father or other older male relatives have MPB, you aren’t guaranteed to get it, but you are more likely.

Why some genes make it more likely you’ll develop MPB isn’t well understood (it’s insanely complex), but it’s likely to do with the receptors that DHT binds with. Certain genes may make the receptors in some men react more strongly to DHT.

Ageing and male pattern baldness

You also often see ageing listed as a cause of MPB too. Although you’re more likely to develop MPB as you age, it’s not fully understood why, particularly as levels of free testosterone usually fall as men age. It may be that more of the free testosterone we do have is converted to DHT as we age, or may just be that it takes time for hair follicles to shrink, so even if MPB starts in your teens it may take years for the effects to become visible.

How do I treat male pattern baldness

There are a range of ways to treat MPB, one of which is costly surgery.

But how do you reduce or lower DHT in your body? Well, another effective, and less expensive option to treat MPB is to use a medication which reduces levels of DHT in the scalp, a so-called DHT blocker. So, what’s a DHT blocker? The clue is in the name really.

Finasteride, also sold under the brand name Propecia, is a prescription medication that stops the conversion of free testosterone into DHT in certain tissues, including the scalp. It can slow the rate of hair loss, and even reverse MPB in most men.

A recap on DHT and male pattern baldness

We’ve just thrown a whole load of science at you here, so we’ll summarise it quickly to make it as clear as possible:

  • Male pattern baldness is mostly caused by the hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT is made from testosterone by the 5α-reductase enzyme in certain parts of your body, including in your hair follicles.
  • DHT binds with hair follicles, and in most areas of your body, the hormone encourages your hair to grow.
  • Your scalp is different though, as DHT here causes your hair follicles to shrink over time, making them produce steadily shorter and thinner hairs, until eventually the follicle can’t produce any hair at all.
  • MPB is partly genetic. If other men in your family have MPB, you’re more likely to have it too. This may be because you inherit genes that make the receptors in your follicles respond more aggressively to DHT.
  • You’re more likely to develop MPB as you age, even though your levels of free testosterone will probably fall, potentially because your body converts more testosterone to DHT.
  • You can treat MPB by using medications like Propecia and finasteride which stop testosterone being converted into DHT in your scalp. These medications can prevent baldness and can reverse it for most men.

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  • sex

All you need to know about Viagra and alcohol

For many people, alcohol and sex go together.

And you know what, we get it. Alcohol can lower your inhibitions and make you feel less anxious and more confident. It can put you in the mood for sex. Perfect. But can you still drink alcohol if you take Viagra, and if you do, is it dangerous? Here’s all you need to know about Viagra and alcohol.

Does alcohol cause erectile dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction is when a man can’t get or keep an erection that’s firm enough for sex. Alcohol is often said to cause erectile dysfunction as too much of it can decrease blood flow to your penis.

There is also the possibility that alcohol could counter the effects of Viagra. Viagra makes it easier to get an erection, alcohol makes it harder, so it makes sense that the two cancel each other out. But is this true?

Well, there’s been no specific research that definitively says alcohol can stop Viagra from working, but there is plenty of research on the effects of alcohol on men’s erections.

First off, research shows that regularly drinking large amounts of alcohol can make ED more likely. Over time, alcohol can even damage the nerves and blood vessels in your penis, meaning that heavy drinkers can even find it hard to get an erection when they’re sober. But this is alcohol abuse. What if you’re not a heavy drinker? What if you want to drink a few beers over the course of the evening, and then pop a Viagra when you get home?

Well, here the research gets a little more interesting. When men drink less alcohol, the effects aren’t so clear cut. Some studies show that drinking low to moderate amounts of alcohol does make it more difficult to get an erection, but others found a small amount of alcohol can actually help men get erections.

Confused? We don’t blame you. But this is a reminder that life is complicated, and things are rarely simple, especially where our bodies are concerned.

Can Viagra and alcohol interact?

Sometimes alcohol can interact with other drugs, changing the way they work, and making side effects more likely. So is this the case with Viagra?

Both alcohol and Viagra can lower your blood pressure, so drinking with Viagra may make certain side effects more likely, like dizziness, fainting, headaches, and heart palpitations. You should be aware of these side effects and be careful when getting up from sitting or lying down. 

So can I drink alcohol with Viagra?

Although there isn’t conclusive research on this, drinking heavily with Viagra sounds like a bad idea. Drinking large amounts of alcohol will likely make it harder for you to get an erection, potentially wiping out the benefit of Viagra. It may also make the side of effects of Viagra worse.

Drinking small to moderate amounts of alcohol is less clear cut. You’ll likely get the most out of Viagra if you stay sober, but if you really want to drink some alcohol with Viagra, then it’s probably best to be cautious. If you’re new to Viagra, try taking it a few times without alcohol to see how you react to the meds. Then if you want to take it with alcohol, you could introduce it slowly, as little as possible at first, so you can see if the Viagra and alcohol interact for you.

Don't forget you can always talk to our doctors and get their advice on taking Viagra with alcohol.

Can I drink alcohol and take Cialis or Levitra?

There’s no conclusive research that shows alcohol has a different effect with Cialis and Levitra than it does with Viagra, so the same advice also applies to these ED meds. Don’t drink to excess, but if you drink a small amount you’ll probably be fine. Introduce the alcohol slowly until you’re confident the two work together for you.

Will food stop Viagra from working?

Food, especially high-fat food, can slow down how quickly Viagra is absorbed into your system. If you take Viagra with a meal, take it two hours before you want to have sex, rather than one hour.

When should I take Viagra for the best results?

Most importantly, always take your Viagra as prescribed. In most cases you will swallow a Viagra pill with water one hour before you want to have sex. After you’ve taken it, you need to be aroused for Viagra to take effect, so do whatever turns you on. You’ll probably see the best results if you take Viagra without food and alcohol too.

Chances are you’ll get the most out of Viagra if you take it without any alcohol. You may find a small amount of alcohol has no effect though, but everyone responds to alcohol and Viagra differently, so caution is the best approach. Try to drink as little as possible, especially until you know how you react to Viagra and alcohol when you take them together.

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  • skin

Is it a cold sore or a spot?

Cold sores and spots can look similar, especially if you have a spot close to your lips. Neither is particularly desirable, and we’re sure you want to get rid of your blemish as soon as possible.

You do need to know exactly what you’re dealing with, as cold sores and spots are treated differently. And whereas spots aren’t contagious, cold sores can be, so you need to be more careful if you have them.

We’ll explain how you can tell the difference.

What does a cold sore look like when it starts?

Cold sores are small blisters and sores that usually form around your lips, but you can also get them on your chin, cheeks, and inside your nose and mouth.

What causes a cold sore?

Cold sores are caused by an infection of a herpes virus, usually herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1), but sometimes by herpes simplex virus 2 (HSV-2), which more often causes genital herpes. Once the herpes virus gets inside you, it’s there for life. Most of the time it lies dormant in your nerve cells and you have no symptoms, but every now and then it reactivates and spreads though your skin cells, causing an outbreak of cold sores.

What does a spot look like when it starts?

A spot is a small bump in your skin that can have a black tip, a white tip, or no tip at all. They can form anywhere on your face, and anywhere on your body.

What causes spots?

You get spots when your skin follicles (the small holes in your skin that hairs grow out of) become blocked, usually by dead skin cells or by the oil your skin produces (sebum). Bacteria can grow in the blocked pore too, leading to inflammation and swelling.

You get a blackhead when the follicle remains open and the blockage inside is exposed to the air, and you get a whitehead when the follicle closes. More severe spots, like pustules and cysts, occur when you have a bacterial infection, especially when the infection spreads outside the follicle and deeper into your skin, causing more swelling and inflammation.

Differences between cold sores and spots. Is it a spot or cold sore?

Although they’re caused by very different things, cold sores and spots can sometimes look similar, especially in the early stages of their development, and particularly if you’ve never had cold sores before and you aren’t personally familiar with them. But the following differences can help you work out what that blemish on your face is:

Where is it? Do you get cold sores only on your face?

Spots can form anywhere on your face or body, whereas cold sores only form on your face, usually around your lips, but sometimes they can occur around your nose, on your cheeks, and inside your mouth and nose.

So if the blemish isn’t on your face, it’s not a cold sore. If it’s on your forehead or your chin, it’s probably a spot too. If it is inside your mouth, it’s most likely a cold sore, as it’s rare to get spots there. For those close to your lips, around or inside your nose, or on your cheeks, it could be either a cold sore or a spot. If this is the case, and you’re still not sure which it is, then you can use how it feels to give you a clue.

How does it feel? How do I know It's a cold sore?

Spots usually feel tender to the touch, even painful, depending on how much swelling and inflammation has occurred. They don’t usually feel tender if you don’t touch them though.

Cold sores on the other hand tend to tingle, itch, or even burn, without you touching them, and you often start to feel the tingling before they emerge. If you can feel it without touching it, it’s likely a cold sore, if not, it’s probably a spot. When you’re still not sure though, you can consider how it looks too.

How does it look? Can cold sores look like pimples?

When pimples and cold sores are emerging they can look similar, like small bumps on your skin without any discoloration. However, as they develop, they usually start to look very different.

Even if you have more than one spot, they tend to be single bumps and usually don’t merge together unless you have serious acne. Cold sores however often cluster together. If you have a patch of discoloured skin with multiple bumps on it, then it’s more likely to be a cold sore than a spot.

Both spots and cold sores can develop heads too, but these tend to look different. Spots can form blackheads or whiteheads, depending if the follicle remains open or if it closes, whereas a small amount of fluid often forms in cold sores. This fluid should look different from a whitehead, as it should be clearer and thinner in consistency, whereas a whitehead is usually white to yellow in colour, with a thicker liquid inside.

What if I’m still not sure what I have?

It’s important to know if the blemish on your face is in fact a spot or a cold sore, as not only are they treated differently, cold sores are contagious. They can be easily passed to others, and the virus which causes them can be transferred to other parts of your body on your fingers too, which can cause other conditions like genital herpes.

If you think you might have cold sores, you really need to find out for sure. The best way to do so is to ask an expert. Try to see a health professional who can give you a diagnosis. Cold sores can clear up in around eight to 10 days, so try to see someone in this time period, so they can see your blemish. They may even take a swab, which can then be tested to really make sure.

How to treat a spot?

So, you’ve diagnosed your blemish as a spot. If it’s a single spot, then it’s best to leave it and let it heal by itself. It can be tempting, and fun, to pop spots, but you shouldn’t, as it can spread infection further into your skin.

If you have more severe spots and acne, then you can try and prevent them by having a daily cleansing routine to keep your skin as clear and oil-free as possible.

To treat acne, there are products which contain various acids, like salicylic and retinoic acids, which can help to unblock follicles and clear dead skin cells and sebum. Antibiotics will also fight the bacterial infection. We recommend a product which combines both a retinoic acid and an antibiotic, called treclin gel.

How to treat a cold sore?

You can buy over the counter treatments for cold sores, but we recommend the prescription treatment valaciclovir, which is also sold under the brand name Valtrex. These are both anti-viral medications which help your body fight the herpes virus during an outbreak. They’re taken as a pill, and they can help ease the symptoms of cold sores and clear them up faster. They can also be taken as a daily suppressive treatment to reduce the likelihood of outbreaks occurring. 

Cold sores and spots can look similar, especially when they first emerge on your face, and even more so if you’ve never had cold sores before and you aren’t familiar with them.

You need to know for sure if your blemish is a spot or a cold sore, as you treat them differently. Cold sores are contagious, so it’s important to know if you have them to stop yourself infecting other people, and other parts of your body.

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  • hair

All you need to know about hair transplants

Thinking about having a hair transplant? Feel like it’s your only option?

First things first, you’re not the only one that’s going through it. Male pattern baldness affects over 50% of men by the age of 50. For some guys, it happens when they’re older, but for the unlucky ones, it happens at a relatively young age.

For the younger guys out there, it is a big deal which makes it no surprise to learn that according to the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery, more and more men are fighting back by opting for hair transplant surgeries.

They are usually effective, but it’s a big step to take. Think about your options carefully. Here we’ve got the essential things you need to know.

What is a hair transplant?

A hair transplant is a surgical procedure used to treat baldness. Hair is taken from an area of your scalp where you don’t have any hair loss, usually from the back or the sides of your head and moved to areas where you’re going bald.

The surgery is usually done under local anaesthetic and takes several hours, depending on how much hair you’re having transplanted.

How does a hair transplant work?

The procedure is done by removing healthy ‘follicular units’ from your scalp, which are bits of skin that contain the structures needed to grow a hair, like hair follicles, oil glands, and muscle tissue.

The follicular units are then embedded back into your scalp (called grafting) in the areas where you’re going bald. The surgeon may make small incisions in your scalp into which the follicular units are inserted, or they may use a device like a punch needle. Once back in your scalp, the follicular units receive oxygen and nutrients from your blood, and they can produce healthy, thick hair in the area where it was previously thinning.

Are there different types of hair transplant?

There’s a wide range of hair transplant techniques available, some using the latest biotechnology, like stem cells, but most hair transplant operations fall under one of two main approaches:

Follicular unit transplantation (FUT) hair transplants

The surgeon removes a strip or strips of skin from your head with healthy hair follicles in it. These strips are then cut into individual follicular units, which are then embedded back in your scalp in the areas where you’re losing hair.

Follicular unit extraction (FUE) hair transplants

Individual follicles are removed from the scalp, rather than a strip of skin, and then inserted into the areas where you’re going bald. Because no large incisions are made with FUE hair transplants, there’s usually less visible scarring than with the FUT hair transplants.

Do hair transplants really work?

Hair transplants are effective for many men who are losing their hair naturally through male pattern baldness. Results will vary, depending on factors including your age and general health, how much hair you’ve lost, the transplant technique used, and the skill of the surgeon, but anywhere from 10% to 80% of the follicles transplanted will produce hair in the new location.

How long does a hair transplant last?

If the transplanted follicles take, they’ll start producing new hair, usually within a couple of months. However, this hair will probably start to thin over time, just as the hair before it did. How fast the transplanted hair thins will be unique to you, but you may need to have follow-up transplants and use hair loss treatments like finasteride if you want to keep a full head of hair.

Do hair transplants look natural?

In the past, hair transplants looked less than subtle. Hair was transplanted in small clumps, called plugs, resulting in a bald patch covered in equally spaced tufts of hair. If you had one of these transplants, everyone knew about it.

The techniques used today give more natural results as hair follicles are implanted one at a time. And given the fact it’s your own hair that’s used, transplants can look perfectly natural. The results will depend on the expertise of the surgeon who carries out the transplant though, with more skilled surgeons producing more natural results.

How much does a hair transplant cost?

So, how much is a hair transplant? You may have heard they don’t come cheap. Well, unfortunately, hair transplants aren’t offered on the NHS, as they’re a cosmetic procedure, so you’ll have to go private. And here’s where you may want to brace yourself.

Hair transplant costs can vary. A lot. It can set you back anywhere from £1,000 to £30,000 and more, depending on the type of surgery, how much hair you’ve lost, and the quality of the surgeon and clinic you use.

With hair transplants, you generally pay for what you get especially a more skilled surgeon can produce better results. It can be tempting to go for the cheaper options, but if you’re serious about keeping your hair, and you want a natural-looking transplant, you’ll have to be prepared to spend some money.

Will I need more than one hair transplant?

You may need multiple hair transplants depending on how much hair you’ve lost and how many follicles need to be moved. It’s likely that you’ll also need follow-up transplants as your transplanted hair can start to thin again. All of this will depend on your individual circumstances, but if you’re committed to keeping your hair, it can get expensive.

What is the best age to get a hair transplant?

You can have a hair transplant from the age of 18, and there’s no upper limit, as long as you and the surgeon are comfortable with your condition.

There’s no single best age to have a transplant. It depends on your individual circumstances, but if you’re young, it’s advised to wait until your mid-20s, to make sure you have a good idea of your individual pattern of hair loss.

When in your mid-20s or older, it’s generally a good idea to have a transplant sooner rather than later, as you need to have enough hair to be transplanted, and you’ll likely see better results if you can still grow hair in the areas you’re going bald.

Is a hair transplant right for me?

You’ll need to speak to a surgeon at a private clinic to discuss in detail whether a hair transplant is right for you, but consider the following:

The cause of your hair loss

Hair transplants work best for men who are losing hair naturally because of male pattern baldness. If you’re losing hair for another reason, whether due to an illness or medical treatment, then hair transplants probably aren’t for you.

Whether you have enough healthy hair to transplant

You need to have enough hair on your head that hasn’t thinned to be moved to the areas where you’re going bald. If you’ve lost most of the hair on your head, a transplant may not be viable for you.

If you still grow hair in the area where your hair is thinning

If you can’t grow any hair in the area you want the hair to be transplanted to, then the follicular units that are moved to this area may not be able to produce any hair either. Again, if you’ve already lost a lot of hair, a transplant may not be right for you.

If you’re unsure about any of the above, a surgeon will be able to make an assessment on each of these factors.

Can hair loss treatments help with hair transplants?

Yes, hair loss treatments can help with hair transplants. Your transplanted hair can begin to thin and recede, like the lost hair it replaced. To get the best results from a transplant, you may have to use a hair loss treatment which can help you maintain your hair, like finasteride.

Finasteride, also sold under the brand name Propecia, is a prescription medication that reduces the amount of DHT in your scalp, a hormone which causes male pattern baldness. Finasteride can help reduce hair loss and can even help regrow lost hair.

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  • sex

What is Kamagra?

Ok, so you’re looking for the right erectile dysfunction meds for you. You’ve heard of something called Kamagra. Apparently, it’s cheaper than Viagra and you’ve also heard you can get chewable tablets and even an oral jelly. Sounds interesting, right?

But is it legal in the UK? And should you try it? Here’s all you need to know about Kamagra.

What is Kamagra?

Kamagra is a brand name of a range of erectile dysfunction (ED) products, including Kamagra pills, Kamagra chewable tablets, Kamagra effervescent tablets, and Kamagra jelly.

Kamagra products contain the same active ingredient as Viagra, called sildenafil citrate. They’re used for the same reason as Viagra; to help men get and keep an erection that’s hard enough for sex.

How does Kamagra work?

Kamagra products work in broadly the same way as Viagra and other ED medications that contain the active ingredient sildenafil citrate. They relax muscle tissue and blood vessels, improving the flow of blood to the penis, making it easier to get an erection when you’re turned on.

Who manufactures Kamagra?

Kamagra is made by Ajanta Pharma Limited, a pharmaceutical company based in India. Ajanta Pharma makes branded generic medications.

Generic medications are copies of meds that are no longer protected by a patent. Branded generics are generic meds that are sold under a new brand name, like Ajanta Pharma’s Kamagra brand.

What’s the difference between Kamagra and Viagra?

Kamagra is a generic copy of Viagra, so in terms of how it works and the effect it has, there should be no difference. A Kamagra pill with 50 mg of sildenafil citrate in it should have the same effect on you, and the same side effects, as a 50 mg Viagra pill.

The main differences are price and the range of products Kamagra comes in. Viagra is usually taken in pill form, whereas you can buy Kamagra tablets, Kamagra oral jelly, and Kamagra effervescent. Kamagra is generally much cheaper than Viagra too.

But, there’s another difference. And this one’s a big one. Unlike Viagra, Kamagra hasn’t been licensed for sale in the UK.

Is Kamagra illegal to buy in the UK?

Although Kamagra is legal in some countries, it can’t be sold legally in the UK.

This is because Kamagra hasn’t been authorised by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA); part of the UK government Department of Health. The MHRA ensures all medicines sold in the UK meet certain standards of safety, quality, and efficacy. This hasn’t been done for Kamagra, meaning it can’t be sold or bought in the UK.

Where can I buy Kamagra?

Kamagra can’t be sold legally in the UK, however it is often sold illegally by drug dealers and online.

Don’t be tempted. It might seem like Kamagra is just another version of Viagra. You might think its illegality is just a technical thing. But there are a number of risks of buying medications illegally.

What are the risks of buying Kamagra?

Here are two good reasons why you shouldn’t buy ED meds illegally:

You don't have a prescription

Viagra, and other products which contain sildenafil citrate, are prescription medications. This means you need to talk to a doctor before you can buy them legally.

A doctor needs to assess your symptoms and medical history to make sure the ED drugs are suitable and safe for you to use. You might have a condition which means you can’t take them, or you may be taking other medications which could interact with ED drugs. If you skip this step and buy ED medications without a prescription, you’re risking your health.

The meds might be counterfeit

There’s a huge market for counterfeit drugs, especially online. These are medications that look real, have the manufacturer logo on them, but are made illegally by someone else.

Counterfeit drugs can’t be trusted, as they often don’t contain as much active ingredient as they claim or any at all. They can also contain dangerous filler substances, with research finding some absolute horrors, like commercial-grade paint and gypsum in fake ED pills.

And here’s the issue with buying Kamagra online. If a website is willing to sell you Kamagra illegally, then it’s probably willing to sell you fake Kamagra too. To put it bluntly, if you buy Kamagra online, you have no way to know whether you’re buying the genuine product or a fake copy which could be harmful to your health.

Safer alternatives to Kamagra

If you’ve got ED, then the answer to your problem isn’t to buy illegal, and possibly fake, ED meds.

Lots of different things can cause ED, from performance anxiety to pornography addiction, to medical problems. You need to find out what’s behind your ED if you want a permanent solution and you want to make sure you haven’t got a serious medical condition. ED can be an early warning sign that you have heart problems, high cholesterol, diabetes, or a hormone imbalance, so you need to get yourself checked out.

If you’re interested in using ED medications, then don’t go down the Kamagra path. If Viagra is too expensive for you, there are generic versions of Viagra you can buy legally in the UK that work just as well but for a lower price, like sildenafil.

You can order both Viagra and sildenafil as well as other ED meds directly from us at FROM MARS. Simply start your online consultation with us by telling us your medical history and symptoms. If approved, you’ll receive a treatment plan from our doctors within two hours, and your ED meds will be shipped to you for free the very next day.

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  • sex

What is impotence?

Impotence. Sounds like something your dad would get, right?

While it might seem like a condition that only happens to the older gents, impotence is actually the same as ED. Here we’ll give you a rundown of the basics and let you know what you can do about it.

What’s the difference between impotence and erectile dysfunction?

You might have seen the term erectile dysfunction (ED) before. You may well be wondering what the difference between ED and impotence is?

The simple answer is, there’s no difference. Both terms refer to the same condition.

Impotence is the older name, and generally, people talk about ED today because impotence can be a loaded word for some people. It can be used as an insult, whereas ED sounds more neutral and medical, which is appropriate as it is a medical condition.

How common is impotence?

No one knows for sure. There’s been a lot of research into impotence, but some of it is old and outdated now. One major study found around 50% of men in their 50s experienced impotence, 60% of men in their 60s, and 70% in their 70s. So impotence is common and becomes more so as we age.

Impotence used to be seen as something that just happens to older men, but today we know that isn’t true. Research has shown that lots of younger men experience impotence too and that it may be becoming more common. The increase in impotence in young men has been blamed partly on the easy access to pornography and addiction to pornography.

Although we don’t know exactly how many men are impotent or suffer from it occasionally, we do know it’s common among both young and older men. In fact, impotence is the most common sexual problem reported by men. If you experience impotence, it may help to know you’re not alone.

What causes impotence?

Getting an erection might seem like a pretty simple process. You get aroused, your penis fills with blood, you get hard. Simple.

But erections are complex. There’s a lot more going on under the hood than you might think. Firstly, you need a heart and circulatory system that can pump enough blood to your penis to get and keep it hard. You also need a nervous system that can carry the right signals from your brain to your groin and the right levels of the right hormones, like testosterone. And even if all this is working fine, you also need to be in the right place mentally too.

Problems with any of the above can cause impotence. We’ll look at some of the conditions that can disrupt these processes and cause impotence:

Physical causes of impotence

  • Conditions which can interfere with the flow of blood through your body, like heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.
  • Anything that impacts your brain and nerves, like strokes that cause brain damage, damage to your spine, multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson’s disease.
  • Conditions which impact your hormone levels, like low levels of testosterone, or an overactive or underactive thyroid gland.

Psychological causes of impotence

A lot of sex is in your head. The desire for sex, confidence, your body’s physical reactions, they all begin in your brain. Anything which can disrupt your thinking and unsettle your mindset can impact your sex life and give you impotence. Some of these include:

  • Stress in other areas of your life
  • Problems in your relationship
  • Performance anxiety (doubts about your sexual ability)
  • Worries about premature ejaculation
  • Addiction to pornography
  • Mental health issues like depression and anxiety disorders

Lifestyle causes of impotence

Your lifestyle choices can also cause impotence or make it worse. All the following have been associated with impotence:

  • Being overweight
  • Not getting enough exercise
  • Not eating a diet with enough nutrients
  • Not getting enough sleep
  • Smoking cigarettes
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Taking recreational drugs like marijuana and cocaine
  • Taking medications that can cause impotence, like some antidepressants, antihistamines, and beta-blockers

These aren’t all the causes of impotence. This is just an overview of some of the possible culprits. You can read more about the causes of impotence here.

How to treat impotence

The good news is you have a range of options to treat ED. The treatment that works best for you will depend on what’s causing your impotence and your own tastes and preferences.

See your doctor

The first step you should take though is to see your doctor. Impotence can be caused by serious underlying medical conditions, so it's a good idea to have a health check. Even if you think your ED is psychological, you should arrange a visit to see your doctor, as it can be caused by more than one thing.

Treating physical impotence

If your impotence is caused by a physical problem, ED medications like sildenafil (Viagra), tadalafil (Cialis), and vardenafil (Levitra) are effective treatments for many men. Other options include trying penis pumps, and even injections and implants.

ED medications will likely be the simplest and quickest place to start.

You can also make changes to your lifestyle. Things like eating a better diet, losing weight, getting more exercise, sleeping better, quitting smoking, and drinking less can all help. If you’re taking a medication that can cause impotence, you can talk to your doctor about your options.

Treating psychological impotence

If you think your impotence is psychological, then it may help to talk to a mental health professional. You can ask your doctor to refer you, or you can find a private therapist online via the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy website.

Can Viagra help psychological impotence?

ED medications like Viagra can also help with impotence. For some men, they can take the stress out of getting an erection. This can help them relax and focus on sex, rather than the issues which are getting in the way of it.

If you’re interested in trying an ED medication, you can order them directly from us at FROM MARS. Start your online consultation here. Simply enter your medical history and symptoms, and if approved by our doctors, you’ll receive a treatment plan within two hours. Your ED meds will be shipped to you for free the very next day.

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  • skin

Can the keto diet cause acne?

The keto diet is a low-carb, high-fat diet that has become a top trend in recent years. The diet can help you lose weight, but the impact it can have on your skin is less clear cut. Some claim it can give you acne, others say it does the opposite and clears your skin up.

So, what to believe?

Here we’ll run you through the need-to-knows on what the diet is and how it can affect your skin.

What is the keto diet?

The ketogenic diet, or keto diet for short, isn’t about eating less and starving yourself. It’s about changing what you eat.

Keto dieters eat foods that are high in fat but low in carbs. Foods like pasta, rice, bread, potatoes, chocolate, cake, sweets, and beer are out. Whilst eggs, cheese, meat, seafood, butter and oils are in. The keto diet is famously known as the diet that lets you eat bacon. Winner.

Cutting back on chocolate, cakes, and beer sounds sensible, but how does eating more bacon, butter, and cheese help you lose weight?

How does the keto diet work?

The idea behind the keto diet is to change how your body uses food as fuel.

With a normal diet with plenty of carbs, your body breaks down the carbs into sugar. This sugar (mostly glucose) is used to fuel your body. You might burn some fat too if your sugar levels run low, but sugar is your body’s main source of energy.

If you switch to a diet that’s low in carbs, your body doesn’t have enough sugar to fuel itself. So, it starts to burn fat instead. After a few days on the keto diet your body enters a state called ketosis where your liver uses your fat reserves to create a different fuel source called ketones. Your body uses these ketones for energy rather than glucose.

Essentially, the keto diet makes your body burn fat rather than sugar. This can stop you putting on more fat, and it can cause you to lose it too.

Does the keto diet cause acne?

First things first. There haven’t been any scientific studies that can say conclusively how the keto diet affects skin condition. The current knowledge on the keto diet and acne is based on a mix of older studies on diet and acne, knowledge of how the body works, and anecdotal evidence from doctors and those who’ve tried the diet.

There’s a general consensus though that the keto diet could cause acne, or worsen it, in two ways:

Firstly, diets high in dairy and oils have been linked with acne. They can cause your body to produce more of a natural skin oil called sebum, and this oil can block your pores giving you acne.

Secondly, switching to a ketogenic diet may stress your body, particularly at first. This stress could cause an inflammatory reaction and could worsen the inflammation that accompanies more severe acne outbreaks.

Before you dismiss the keto diet, to complicate matters there is also evidence that it could have the opposite effect. The keto diet could actually help with your acne.

Can the keto diet help with acne?

Whilst eating more dairy and more fat can be associated with causing acne, there’s a stronger association with sugar and carbohydrates and acne. It’s thought this is because carbs and sugars increase the levels of certain hormones in your body, like insulin, that can cause acne. A number of studies have shown the keto diet can reduce the levels of these hormones. The diet has even been suggested as a potential way to cure acne.

The keto diet has also been shown to reduce inflammatory processes in the body. It could cause an initial rise in inflammation as your body adjusts to the diet – which is why you can get acne when starting keto, but over time it might reduce this inflammation, so acne may be reduced.

Can the keto diet cause other skin issues?

The keto diet can cause a red and itchy skin rash. The medical term for the rash is prurigo pigmentosa, but it’s more commonly called the keto rash. How the diet causes the rash isn’t understood, but it can be treated using skin products like moisturisers, and even with antibiotics.

So will the keto diet be good or bad for my skin?

With the keto diet you could end up eating more of the food that causes acne, or possibly less of it. And the diet could both increase and decrease inflammation. Confused yet? Will it give you acne, or cure it?

The truth is, we can’t say for sure. The link between diet and acne is complicated and is still hotly debated by scientists. Everyone responds to food and diets differently. You won’t know how the keto diet impacts you until you try it.

Even if the keto diet does give you acne, or makes it worse, you have options.

What should I do if the keto diet gives me acne?

Firstly, you should adopt a daily skin care routine that helps keep acne at bay. It should involve cleansing, toning, the use of an acne treatment, and moisturising. Read more about skin care for acne with our helpful guide

When it comes to acne treatments, while you can buy plenty over the counter, stronger medications require a prescription. At FROM MARS we sell a topical acne treatment called treclin. It combines an antibiotic and a retinoic acid called tretinoin in one gel and is medically proven to be an effective treatment for acne. Treclin can reduce inflammation, kill bacterial infections in your spots, and improve the quality of your skin. Start your online consultation with us today.

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  • sex

Lockdown Libido – is coronavirus making the UK more or less amorous?

Lockdown has affected us all in many ways. As we continue to adjust to our new normal, we decided to take a look at the impact that lockdown has had on our sex lives. We surveyed 1,000 adults from across the UK and got to the nitty gritty about how their desire has been impacted by Covid-19.

Sexually frustrated? You’re not alone

If you’ve found yourself feeling sexually frustrated, you’re not alone. 14% of the people we surveyed said they’d been feeling the strain while socially-isolating. And it seems as though men are finding it slightly harder than women, with 17% of men admitting to feeling sexually frustrated, compared to 11% of women.

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  • sex

Diabetes and erectile dysfunction: The facts

If you’ve got diabetes, you might experience erectile dysfunction (ED). This means you’re struggling to get hard or stay hard.

ED is perfectly normal, so try not to stress. If it’s happened to you, or you’re worried that it might, we’ve got the low down on why diabetes can cause erectile dysfunction and what you can do about it.

How does diabetes cause erectile dysfunction?

To get and keep an erection, a number of physical and psychological things need to happen all at the same time. That means your body and your mind both need to be in the right place.

These include:

  • Your circulatory system needs to pump enough blood to your penis to make it hard
  • Your nerves must carry signals from your brain
  • You need the right levels of sex hormones
  • You should be aroused

Diabetes can interfere with two of these. Increased levels of sugar and fat in the body over long periods can damage blood vessels and nerves, disrupting the flow of blood and the signals needed to get and maintain an erection.

That means even if you have the desire and the sex hormones are there, diabetes can get in the way, resulting in ED.

If this has happened to you, you’re definitely not on your own. Up to 75% of diabetic men experience some degree of erectile dysfunction. It also tends to appear 10 to 15 years earlier in men with diabetes than those without.

If you’ve got type 2 diabetes, you’re more likely to experience problems with erections. Almost half of men with type 2 develop erectile dysfunction within 5 to 10 years of diagnosis.

But it doesn’t need to signal the end of your sex life.

Can diabetes medications cause erectile dysfunction?

All medications have side effects, but diabetes medications don’t typically cause erectile dysfunction.

However, some drugs that you might be taking alongside your diabetes medication can, including those that lower blood pressure. If you’re worried about the side effects of any medication you’re taking, speak to your doctor.

Is erectile dysfunction a sign of diabetes?

There are loads of different causes of ED. Diabetes is just one of many.

If you’ve experienced problems, it could be due to a whole host of reasons, some more serious than others.

But while ED might be common, it’s not something to ignore. It can damage your confidence, put pressure on relationships, and can be a sign that something is up with your health. Here you can learn more about the causes of erectile dysfunction and what you can do about it.

How to treat erectile dysfunction for men with diabetes

If you have diabetes and you’re worried about ED, the first step to take is to speak to your doctor. They can diagnose the potential cause and advise on what to do to treat it.

These are some of the treatments they might suggest:

Lead a healthier life

The great news is that research has shown that even small beneficial lifestyle changes can improve the quality of erections for men with diabetes.

Getting control of your diabetes, your weight, and your cholesterol levels can help with erectile dysfunction, even if you have blood vessel and nerve damage. And there’s plenty of other benefits to feeling a bit healthier all-round.

Consider the following:

  • Losing weight if you’re overweight: Being overweight can make it harder for your body to control insulin levels, and it can worsen the nerve and blood vessel damage caused by diabetes. Even small losses of weight can have an impact on erectile dysfunction.
  • Getting more exercise: Exercise can help with weight loss, can promote heart strength and blood flow around the body, and it can raise testosterone levels too.
  • Eating a diabetes-friendly diet: Eating foods that will better help you manage your blood sugar levels will lessen any further blood vessel and nerve damage. Eating a suitable diet can also improve your energy levels and mood too.
  • Stopping smoking: Smoking can narrow blood vessels, further reducing blood flow to the penis.
  • Cutting back on alcohol and recreational drugs: Being drunk can make it harder to get an erection, and over time, drinking can damage blood vessels. Certain recreational drugs, such as marijuana and cocaine, can also make it difficult to get hard and can cause long-term damage.

Oral medication

Your doctor may prescribe an oral medication such as Viagra (sildenafil), Cialis (tadalafil), and Levitra (vardenafil). You might worry that you can’t take drugs like Viagra if you have diabetes, but as long as you don’t have heart problems, diabetes shouldn’t stop you from taking them.

If you’ve got any concerns, always discuss them with your doctor.

Vacuum Constrictive Devices (VCDs)

This is basically a pump that fits over your penis. The pump forms a seal around the penis before the air is pumped out to create a vacuum, encouraging blood to flow into it. The erection is maintained once the pump is removed, by fitting a band around the base of the penis.

Injections and suppositories

If oral medications or VCDs aren’t effective, a range of drugs can be delivered directly to your penis before sex. They can be injected into the penis, or a small pill (suppository) can be inserted into the urethra.

They tend to take around 15 minutes to work, with erections lasting from between 30 and 60 minutes.

Getting more support for erectile dysfunction

Remember when we said that both your body and your head need to be right?

That means that tackling the physical causes of ED might be just half of the battle. Some of the causes are physiological, and often the physical and the mental sides go hand-in-hand.

What might begin as a physical problem can become a psychological one too. If you become anxious or depressed about getting erections, you may decide you want to speak to a mental healthcare professional.

Your doctor should be able to refer you to NHS mental health services, although there can be waiting lists for these depending on which region you live in. You can also try finding a private therapist or counsellor.

Although erectile dysfunction can be common with diabetes, don’t sweat it. You can treat it, and you can soon get back to having the sex you want.

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  • sex

Erectile dysfunction in young men: Facts and treatments

Having erectile dysfunction when you’re young can feel like being lost on a deserted island. Though in reality, half of all British men in their thirties are affected. It’s the same for 35% of men in their twenties. That said, there can be a cause for concern when ED strikes young.

What causes erectile dysfunction in young men?

Not to scare you, but guys who are 19, 25 and even 30 years of age are considered premature for ED. To be on the safe side, your first move should be to speak to a GP. They’ll help you rule out anything more serious.

If you’re fit and healthy, it may be comforting to know that ED is much more common than you think in millennials. After all, a lot has changed for young people over the years. For starters, most of us are working long hours under pressure, which can contribute to stress.

Studies suggest that stress and anxiety are two key causes of erectile dysfunction in men under 40. Depression can also lead to ED in over half of males (62.5%) living with mental health concerns — a factor that many forget about.

Alcohol, drugs and lifestyle — are they linked to ED?

Using drugs and alcohol can be a cause of ED, whatever your age. It may be short-term for now, but long-term alcohol and substance abuse can raise your chances of ED by causing your testosterone levels to drop. Smoking can also have the same effect.

A diet that’s high in salt and fat can raise your blood pressure. Leading a busy, 21st century lifestyle can often mean we grab food on-the-go, so we don’t eat as well as we would like.

Everything we’ve mentioned so far can contribute to erectile dysfunction in young men, but you can change that by working out and not overdoing it on the cheesy fries. And if you already have ED... fear not, there are treatments available to you.

Can watching porn cause ED?

Believe it or not, another common cause of ED in some men is porn. Porn-induced erectile dysfunction, or PIED, can affect men who use porn to masturbate. So, if this sounds like you, have a bit of time off.

Help for guys experiencing erectile dysfunction young

We’ve already spoken about seeing your doctor to rule out some of the more serious causes of ED, like high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. But what if you’re confident your ED has nothing to do with your physical health? The next move you should consider is to evaluate your lifestyle.

Why not try and eat healthier? You’ll find a long list of healthy food that are also aphrodisiacs such as strawberries, avocados and passion fruit.

You could also try lowering your alcohol intake and giving up drugs.

Finally, look into sexual enhancing medicines like sildenafil (Viagra). Sildenafil works by stimulating your sexual organs and increasing the flow of blood to your penis, helping you get an erection in 30 minutes to an hour.

Four common question about ED in young men, answered

1. Is erectile dysfunction common in 30-year-olds?

Yes, and it’s becoming more common. Stress, anxiety and a busy lifestyle are all causes of erectile dysfunction in young men. Some of these factors can be controlled, while others (like depression) depend on getting to the root problem. Your GP can rule out any serious causes of ED for you.

2. What can cause erectile dysfunction at 20?

If you have erectile dysfunction at 20, you should first speak to your GP or a sexual health clinic to find out why. Again, depression, which affects one in five men, can be a contributor. Other guys blame performance anxiety. Have you changed partners lately? Often erections can sense nerves. Look to try sildenafil, which can be taken with other medication if needed.

3. How can I improve my erectile dysfunction?

If you’re convinced your ED isn’t being caused by a serious health issue, simple lifestyle changes can be all you need. Cutting down on smoking, drinking and recreational drugs can be a good place to start. Going to the gym can also increase your testosterone level, helping you to get and maintain an erection.

4. Can STDs cause ED?

It’s no secret that chlamydia is more common in young men than older guys. But aside from being an embarrassing issue, chlamydia can also lead to impotence. Chlamydia can also up your chances of getting an inflamed prostate, which is another (painful) cause of ED.

Is erectile dysfunction a problem at such a young age?

Anything that causes you embarrassment or hinders your happiness is a problem worth addressing. Don’t think for a minute that you are any less of a man for having ED either. This is where so many guys get it wrong.

The truth is there’s a good chance all of us will experience ED one day. That could be at 17, it could be at 27. Frankly, it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that you get checked out and take all reasonable steps to get your mojo back. Rarely is it gone forever.

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  • hair

How to reduce the side effects of finasteride

Your thought process might go a bit like this. Stop your hair thinning. Keep your locks. Get more sex.

In reality, life isn’t always that simple. Less hair doesn’t mean less sex. You’ll probably find that there’s a real market for guys with very short cropped hair and shaved heads. Just look at The Rock or Jason Statham.

But if you’re set on doing something about it, you’ll be pleased to know that male pattern baldness is no longer the curse it once was. There are treatments available today that can stop it, like finasteride, which is also known by the brand name Propecia.

What you might not know is that finasteride can have side effects. And these can include messing with your erections and reducing your sex drive. But that doesn’t happen to everyone.

What is male pattern baldness?

Male pattern baldness (MPB) is a condition which causes men to lose hair on their head. It’s the most common cause of baldness in men, with around 50% of us developing it by age 50.

Hair loss usually follows a pattern, hence the name, with hair receding at the front and thinning at the top of the head first. Less hair is lost at the sides, and as the balding gets worse, it usually results in a a hairless head but with some hair remaining at the sides.

What does finasteride do to the body?

Finasteride, sometimes sold under the brand name Propecia, is a treatment for MPB. It’s taken as a pill, and it works by reducing the amount of male hormone DHT in the scalp which causes the hair to thin and recede. It’s one of the few treatments for MPB that actually works. Finasteride stops hair loss in around 80% of men, and around 66% see their hair returning and thickening.

Does finasteride have side effects?

Just like all medications, finasteride can have side effects. Not every man will get them, and those that do can get different ones at different strengths. It depends on how your body reacts to the meds and how much you take.

Finasteride is considered a safe medication for most men though. The good news is that it’s gone through extensive clinical trials, it’s approved by healthcare agencies all over the world, and in reality there are only a few finasteride side effects. The bad news is that some men do experience them. These were the side effects found in clinical trials:

Sexual side effects of finasteride

The most common side effects of finasteride were sexual. In trials, they’re experienced by around 1 in 100 men (1% of men) when 1 mg tablets were taken daily, and by around 1 in 10 men (10% of men) when 5 mg tablets were taken. They include:

  • Erectile dysfunction (not being able to get or maintain an erection)
  • Reduced sex drive (less desire to have sex)
  • A reduction in the amount of semen produced at ejaculation

Non-sexual side effects of finasteride

Very few other side effects were found in clinical trials for finasteride, however some men experienced rashes, and others felt tenderness and swelling in their chests.

A very small number of men experienced depression when they took finasteride. If you take finasteride and you start to feel depressed you should stop taking it and contact your doctor.

Why does finasteride cause these sexual side effects in some men?

Male pattern baldness is caused by the presence of a male hormone in the scalp called dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which is made from testosterone. Finasteride reduces the amount of DHT, but it can cause more testosterone to be converted to a hormone called estradiol. Estradiol is a female sex hormone which can cause sexual problems in some men.

Do finasteride side effects go away?

If you take finasteride and you do get some of the sexual side effects, don’t worry, you have options. Try some of the following:

Keep taking finasteride and wait

For some men, these sexual side effects reduce over time when they keep taking finasteride, even if they don’t change their dose. Research found that the sexual side effects were often felt for around one year, and then they declined and disappeared over the next two to four years. So patience may be all it takes for some men.

Reduce the dose of finasteride taken

The sexual side effects of finasteride become less common if the dose is reduced. You should talk to our doctors if you are considering changing the dose you take. They may suggest that you keep taking finasteride daily but at a lower strength pill, or they may tell you to take it less often than every day. Your side effects may vanish, and you may still be able to stop and reverse your hair loss at this lower dose.

Try erectile dysfunction medication

Erectile dysfunction medication, like sildenafil (Viagra), tadalafil (Cialis) and vardenafil (Levitra) can help many men overcome problems getting and maintaining an erection. You can order ED meds at FROM MARS if approved by our doctors following an online consultation.

Live a healthier life

Research shows that being fit, healthy, and eating a balanced diet can help improve erections and boost sex drive.

Keeping your weight down, getting regular exercise, eating foods high in vitamins and minerals, cutting back on alcohol, and giving up smoking can all help counter the side effects of finasteride. Learning more about lifestyle changes and the types of healthy foods that can help with your erections can also be beneficial. 

Can you just stop taking finasteride?

If the above advice doesn't work, and you still experience sexual side effects, then you may have to embrace baldness and go all out Statham. For most men, all sexual side effects disappear when they stop taking finasteride. Make sure you talk to our doctors before stopping.

In a nutshell

The truth is that finasteride is one of the few effective treatments for hair loss and that its side effects are uncommon. The chances are you won’t experience any sexual side effects, with only between 1% to 10% of men doing so, even at high doses. And even if you do experience sexual side effects, there are things you can do to counter them. If your hair starts to thin, you’re not facing a choice between a full head or a rewarding sex life. You can have both.

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  • sex

What causes premature ejaculation?

Premature ejaculation. Why does it happen?

Sex can be amazing, but not if it’s over too quickly or you finish before things really get started.

So, let’s talk about premature ejaculation. First off, it’s more common than you might think. Lots of men experience it. But that doesn’t mean you should ignore it. It can mess with your head and your relationship, but it can also be a sign that something else is up with your health.

What is premature ejaculation?

Premature ejaculation (PE) is when a man ejaculates sooner during sex than he or his partner would like, usually before sex happens or within one minute of penetration. PE can be a lifelong issue, something you’ve always had, or it can be acquired, where you develop it after previously being able to last longer during sex.

Who does premature ejaculation affect?

If you experience PE, you’re not alone. PE is the most common sexual issue men say they have, with around 30% of men experiencing it. PE can affect all men, but it’s most common in men under 35 years old, and in men who have stressful relationships, or who have recently started a new relationship.

What causes premature ejaculation?

The exact cause of PE isn’t known for sure. People used to think it was caused by psychological issues, but today we know it’s more complicated than that. We know that a mixture of psychological and physical causes can be involved, both the mind and the body. Here are some of the potential causes:

Psychological causes of premature ejaculation

Worrying about erectile dysfunction

If you’re worried you won’t be able to maintain an erection, it may make you rush to ejaculate as fast as you can before you start to lose it.

Other forms of stress and anxiety

Other forms of anxiety, not just about losing your erection, are also thought to be related to PE. Worrying about your sexual performance, other forms of stress in your life, and being anxious about PE itself may even cause PE to happen.

Relationship problems

Emotional problems between you and your partner, particularly conflict, may cause or contribute to PE. If your partner isn’t supportive about PE for instance, it can make you more anxious, and make your PE worse.

Masturbating too quickly

If you come quickly through masturbation, you may become used to ejaculating soon after any other sort of sexual stimulation begins. Like you’ve trained yourself to ejaculate quickly.

Guilt about sex

Deep-seated feelings of guilt about sex may make you finish as fast as possible, even if you don’t want to.

Physical causes of premature ejaculation

The following are all physical premature ejaculation causes. They can all cause PE in the first place or make it worse:

  • Hypersensitivity of the skin on the penis
  • High or low hormone levels
  • Abnormal levels of chemicals in the brain called neurotransmitters, such as serotonin
  • Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol
  • Taking recreational drugs
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Thyroid problems
  • Prostate disease
  • Multiple sclerosis

Is premature ejaculation curable?

There is no perfect cure for PE, but there are behaviours and treatments you can take to help, from counselling to trying PE-specific condoms, to meds like Priligy. 

Is premature ejaculation permanent?

It depends what’s causing the PE, but for many men, PE is treatable using medications and behavioural fixes. Even men who’ve experienced PE for years can see improvements by using some of the suggested treatments below.

How to treat premature ejaculation?

As PE has a range of causes, different treatments will be effective for different men. You may have to experiment to find the right ones for you.

When to see your doctor

As PE can be caused by some serious physical conditions like diabetes, prostate disease, and multiple sclerosis, you should see your doctor to be checked for any underlying health condition.

Try behavioural treatments for premature ejaculation

Behavioural treatments are usually straightforward and cheap (often free), and can be surprisingly effective. Try:

  • Masturbating an hour or two before you have sex. It’s a simple idea, but some men find they last longer if they’ve already ejaculated.
  • Masturbating for longer and prolonging how long it takes you to orgasm. When you get close, stop and wait for the sensations to decrease in intensity, then start masturbating again. You may be able to train yourself to last longer before you ejaculate.
  • Using condoms. Some men say they make them less sensitive, and some condoms even contain numbing agents that may help.
  • Using lubricant. More lubricant means less friction, which may help you last longer.
  • Kegel exercises. Research has shown that doing regular Kegel exercises can help some men last longer.
  • Focussing more on other aspects of sex. Spend more time on foreplay and oral sex to take the emphasis off penetration, keeping things fun and stress-free.

Try premature ejaculation medication

One of the most effective treatments for PE is Priligy. It’s taken as a tablet around one to three hours before you have sex, and it works by temporarily increasing serotonin levels in your brain (serotonin is a messenger chemical that affects how your body works). This increase in serotonin prolongs the time it takes for you to ejaculate and can increase your control over ejaculation. Because it can be taken before sex, and its effects are short-lasting, Priligy can be an effective and convenient answer to PE.

Premature ejaculation can feel like the end of the world. It can make you feel powerless, frustrated, and ashamed. You might feel lonely, like you’re the only man who has it. But don’t. PE is common and it’s treatable.

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  • skin

A guide to the different types of acne

Acne just won’t quit. It can be hard to treat, and it can stick around for years.

The good news is that effective acne treatments are available. The slightly worse news is that to choose the right one, you need to know what type of acne you have (and there are loads of different types of acne). The confusing news is that you probably have more than one kind of acne at the same time, so you could need a combination of treatments.

Don’t sweat it though, that’s what we’re here for. To help get your skin sorted.

What causes acne?

Your skin is covered in very small holes called follicles, or pores. These follicles are the holes in your skin from which hair grows, but you have them even where you don’t seem to have hair, as often you do have microscopic hairs in these places. Follicles and pores are usually most visible on your face, particularly on your nose, where they look like small dots.

You get acne when your follicles become blocked. The follicles produce a type of oil called sebum, which moisturises and protects your skin. Sebum can block follicles though, particularly in areas of your body where you produce lots of it, like your face. Blocked follicles become spots, and they can become infected and inflamed too. Other things can block your follicles besides sebum, like dead skin cells or ingrown hairs. Other things like your hormone levels and your diet can also make your body produce more sebum, making it more likely that your follicles become blocked and you get acne.

These are the different types of acne.

Non-inflammatory acne

Non-inflammatory acne, also called comedonal acne, is the milder form of acne. Blocked pores become spots, but there’s no infection, and usually no swelling and soreness. You typically get two types of spot with non-inflammatory acne:

Blackheads (also called open comedones)

You get blackheads when a follicle becomes blocked, but it stays open at the surface, so you can see the black blockage inside; like looking down into a half-filled hole filled with black dirt.

Blackheads can often be cleared up with a good skin cleansing routine, particularly when using products that contain salicylic acid, like cleansers and face washes. Salicylic acid cleans your pores and exfoliates your skin, removing dead skin cells, and may be the only treatment you need for blackheads.

Whiteheads (also called closed comedones)

These are similar to blackheads in that they’re caused by a blocked follicle, but this time it closes over at the surface, causing a small, white bump on your skin.

Whiteheads are more difficult to treat than blackheads, as the follicles are closed. Using skincare products with salicylic acid can help, but whiteheads may react better to topical retinoids. Retinoids are a type of molecule that’s similar to vitamin A. Topical means that it’s applied directly to the skin. Topical retinoids for acne are usually creams or serums which you apply to your face once a day. Retinoids can unplug and clean follicles, and remove dead skin cells, like salicylic acid, but are generally stronger. In the UK, you need a prescription for retinoid acne treatments.

Inflammatory acne

Inflammatory acne, also called acne vulgaris, is when your skin becomes swollen and inflamed as well as having spots. It’s more severe than non-inflammatory acne. Your skin gets inflamed when bacteria infect blocked follicles. The bacteria feed on the sebum and dead skin cells and spread through your skin. Inflammation happens as your body fights the infection. The deeper the infection gets into your skin the more painful the acne spots become, and the harder it is to fight them.


These are raised spots that are often pink to red, and tender to the touch. They occur when the walls around follicles break down and the bacterial infection spreads out into the surrounding skin, meaning papules are usually bigger than blackheads and whiteheads.

As with non-inflammatory acne, topical retinoids can be used to tackle papules, but you can also try using products which contain benzoyl-peroxide (usually creams and gels) which can be bought over-the-counter from pharmacies. The benzoyl-peroxide dries the skin, kills the bacteria, and can reduce inflammation too. You can also use prescription antibiotics, often as topical creams, to help fight the bacterial infection, such as treclin (clindamycin + tretinoin) gel.


These are papules which are filled with pus, which is the yellow/white fluid that builds up when your body fights an infection (pus is mostly made of dead white-blood cells). Pustules look similar to papules but have a white or yellow head on top where pus is near the surface of the skin.

Pustules can be treated in the same way as papules, with cleansing products which contain benzoyl-peroxide, with topical retinoids, and with antibiotics.


These look and feel like hard bumps under your skin, and they can be skin-coloured, but are often pink or red, and they’re usually painful to touch. They happen when the infection in a follicle spreads into other follicles and deeper into the skin, causing the spot to grow larger and more inflamed. Nodules are more serious than papules and pustules, are harder to deal with, and can leave scars on the skin.

Because the infection has moved deeper, nodules usually can’t be treated with over-the-counter skin products. You’ll need to use prescription medications which contain antibiotics to deal with the bacterial infection, like treclin gel.


Cysts are similar to nodules in that they form deeper in the skin and can be relatively large, but they tend to contain more pus, so usually have a white or yellow head. Like nodules, they’re harder to deal with and can leave scars on your skin.

Cystic acne is usually treated in the same way as nodules, with prescription medications that contain antibiotics, but in really severe cases cysts can be surgically removed.

Treclin gel

You can order an effective prescription medication directly from us called treclin gel which combines retinoids to cleanse and improve your skin, and an antibiotic to fight the bacterial infection (clindamycin). It can be used to treat a range of acne types and is especially suited for fighting more than one kind of acne at a time.

But simply knowing what kind of acne you have is just the first step to tackling it.

Acne can be a tough condition to treat and it can take time to see improvements, sometimes months, even if you’re using the right treatments, so you may have to be patient. And whilst medication is important, it’s only one part of treating acne. You should have a cleansing routine to keep your skin clean and to remove excess sebum and dead skin cells, and you can also try making changes to your diet. Then the improvements should begin.

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  • hair

Is hair loss hereditary?

We know that there’s loads of misinformation online about baldness. It’s super hard to find out what’s actually true, and it’s too easy to believe the BS. So, we’re going to cut through that misinformation and explain clearly and simply how baldness is inherited.

What is male pattern baldness?

There are loads of reasons men can lose their hair.

Medical conditions, like thyroid disease and scalp infections, can cause baldness. Treatments and drugs, from antibiotics to chemotherapy, can cause it, and even stress can make you lose your hair. This hair loss is often temporary though, and this type of baldness isn’t passed on from parents, as it’s caused by something specific. So when people talk about hereditary baldness, they’re talking about something else. They’re talking about male pattern baldness (MPB).

MPB, also called androgenetic alopecia, is the most common type of baldness in men. It’s called pattern baldness because hair is usually lost in a pattern. A clear sign of balding, your hair recedes at the corners of your hairline and on your crown first.

Is male pattern baldness hereditary?

You may have heard the MPB runs in the family. That it’s something you can inherit from your parents. But there’s a lot of myths about MPB, so is it true? Is going bald genetic?

Yes, it is true, but only partly. MPB is caused by a sensitivity to a type of testosterone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT in the scalp can cause hair follicles (the holes in your skin which hair grows out of) to shrink over time. As the follicles shrink, the hair has less time to grow, meaning they become shorter and thinner, until eventually the follicles shrink so much the hair can’t grow anymore at all. This is why hair thins before you go bald.

It’s not necessarily the amount of DHT in the scalp which causes the follicles to shrink, but how sensitive you are to DHT. Research has shown that a man’s sensitivity to DHT is inherited, meaning it is caused by the genes you get from your parents. So yes, MPB is inherited.

So where do hair genes come from? If your father, or other male relatives have MPB, does this mean you’re definitely going to get it too?

Not necessarily. It’s a little more complicated than that. Over 250 genes are known to be associated with MPB, and you likely have to have certain patterns of these genes to be sensitive to DHT. You get a combination of genes from both your parents, so you may not have the same patterns of these 250 genes as the male relatives in your family. This means MPB is partly hereditary. If men in your family have MPB, you’re more likely to develop it too, but it’s not guaranteed.

Are the genes that cause male pattern baldness inherited from your mother?

You might have heard this one about genetic hair loss too. It’s commonly said that men inherit the genes for male pattern baldness through their mother, so you can’t predict how your hair will fare by looking at your dad. But is this one true?

No. One of the genes that was first found to be related to MPB is found on the X-chromosome, which is inherited only from your mother, which is where this myth comes from. But as we said, we now know there are over 250 genes associated with MPB, and most of these aren’t on the X-chromosome, meaning you can inherit them from your father.

So you can inherit MPB from your dad. If he has it, you’re more likely to develop MPB too (although remember, it’s not 100% guaranteed).

Can you predict your hair future based on your family history?

In addition to the myth that men inherit MPB from their mothers, there are also plenty of other tales about how MPB is passed from generation to generation.

You may see claims that men should look at the hair of their mother’s father, and women should look at their father’s mother, but this isn’t true. The inheritance of MPB just isn’t that simple. First of all, there are so many genes involved. Secondly inheritance isn’t that straightforward; you get half your parents’ genes, not all of them, and you don’t know which half, unless you have your DNA test. That means you simply can’t predict your future hair, or lack of it, from your family history.

So, how can you tell if you’ll go bald? You can’t really. If you have male relatives that have MPB, it’s better to accept that you may inherit it, and you should be on the watch for any signs of it, as the sooner you treat MPB, the better the results.

How to treat hair loss?

Can genetic hair loss be cured? First of all, you need to know what to avoid. There’s plenty of pseudoscientific advice about how to treat MPB and too many phony cures, including everything from massaging raw egg into your scalp, to using aromatherapy oils, to wearing hair loss prevention helmets with lasers. What you need to consider is the fact that there is very little evidence to support any of these. You’re much better off going for a treatment which is proven to work.

Hair Transplant Surgery

One effective option to fight MPB is hair transplant surgery. Follicles are removed from parts of your head where the hair is still growing thick and long, and they’re implanted in the areas of your scalp where your hair is thinning or has been lost. Hair transplant surgery works for many men (it did wonders for Wayne Rooney), but it’s not without its disadvantages. You may have to undergo multiple surgeries depending on how much hair you’ve lost, it can be very expensive (think tens of thousands of pounds), and the results can be temporary as the implanted follicles can start to shrink too.

MPB Meds

Another effective, and more affordable option is finasteride (also sold under the brand name Propecia). Finasteride is a prescription drug which is taken as a pill. It works by reducing DHT levels in the scalp, keeping hairs growing for longer, slowing hair loss, and it can even reverse thinning and loss for most men.

Remember, male pattern baldness is hereditary. But only partly. If male relatives in your family have MPB, you’re more likely to get it too, but it’s not guaranteed. Always try and be alert to the signs of MPB, so you can tackle it as soon as it begins, and always make sure you use a treatment which is proven to be effective.

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  • sex

Why is Viagra not working for me?

You’ve tried Viagra, but it didn’t work.

In this situation, it’s easy to panic. Viagra is supposed to be the most effective treatment for erectile dysfunction, so if it doesn’t work for you, there’s no hope. Right?

Not true. There are plenty of reasons why Viagra might not work 100% of the time. But by listening to what we’ve got to say, you can improve your chances of Viagra working for you. And even if you follow our advice and Viagra still isn’t having the desired effect, you have options. Let’s get into it.

How does Viagra work?

Viagra, also called sildenafil, works by increasing blood flow to your penis. When you get an erection, more blood flows into your penis than flows back out into your body, which causes it to swell and get hard. Viagra helps by relaxing muscle tissue in your penis, opening up the veins and spongy tissue inside, allowing it to fill with blood more easily, making it more likely you’ll get an erection.

But, like all drugs, Viagra isn’t 100% effective. It works for some people, but for others it’s not always a winner. Let’s look at why not, but first some of your most frequently asked questions.

Can Viagra stop working?

Yes. Your body can get used to Viagra and over time it can stop working. How fast this happens depends on how often you take it, what dose you take, and your unique biology. To counter this, you can increase your dose (you should never change your dose yourself so be sure to talk to our doctors first), or you can try switching to other ED meds like Cialis or Levitra.

Does Viagra work if you have low testosterone?

Viagra may not work for men with low testosterone. Viagra combats erectile dysfunction by increasing the flow of blood to the penis, but if your erectile dysfunction is caused by low testosterone rather than problems with blood flow, Viagra won’t have any effect. You’ll have to raise your testosterone level to deal with your erectile dysfunction. Read more about low testosterone.

How long does Viagra take to work?

Viagra usually takes between 30 to 60 minutes to work. Everyone is different though, and Viagra can take longer to work for some men, up to four hours, and in some cases even longer. You may need to be patient.

Does Viagra work all the time?

No, Viagra doesn’t work all the time. There are lots of reasons why Viagra may not always work for you. You might not be aroused enough, the cause of your erectile dysfunction may change, or you may have taken your Viagra alongside a heavy meal, alcohol, or other drugs which stop it from working.

Why might Viagra not be working for you?

First off, know that you’re not alone. In research, around 30% of the men who used Viagra, or a drug like it, reported they didn’t get the full benefits.

Sometimes this is because a drug genuinely won’t work for some men. The same drug will have different effects on different people, and sometimes it won’t work at all. But often it’s not the drug that’s at fault, it’s the user taking it wrongly. And just like any other drug, you need to take Viagra properly for it to work. If Viagra isn’t working for you, it could be due to some of these reasons:

You’ve got the wrong expectations

Viagra is used to treat erectile dysfunction (ED). Lots of men wrongly believe that Viagra has other benefits too, including that it can increase your sex drive, help you last all night, and even give you a bigger erection.

These are myths. Despite what you might have heard from your friends, Viagra doesn’t do these things. If you have problems getting or maintaining an erection, Viagra could work for you. If you don’t, and you’re expecting Viagra to do something else, then you’re going to be disappointed.

You’re not waiting long enough

You should take Viagra 60 to 30 minutes before you have sex, as on average it takes this long to start working. But it can take longer, even up to four hours or more. Viagra might work for you, but it might take longer to kick in.

You’re not aroused

Viagra doesn’t make you hard automatically. You have to be in the mood for sex, your body has to be sending the signals to your penis to get hard, and Viagra makes it more likely for your erection to happen. But if you’re not in the mood, if those signals aren’t being sent, Viagra won’t be able to help.

You should kiss your partner and engage in foreplay, or whatever else turns you on, after you’ve taken Viagra, to make sure you’re aroused enough for it to work.

If you’re having problems with your sex drive and you’re finding you’re not in the mood for sex, then you could have another condition which is causing this, like low testosterone, which can stop Viagra from working. You’ll need to address this issue before Viagra can help.

You’ve taken Viagra with recreational drugs, alcohol, or food

Some recreational drugs, like cocaine and ecstasy, can cause temporary ED, as can drinking large amounts of alcohol. These substances can all stop Viagra from working. If you’re worried Viagra isn’t for you, try taking it when sober to rule out the effects of drugs and alcohol.

Taking Viagra alongside a large meal, especially a high-fat one, can slow down the speed at which the drug is absorbed by your body, which can make it take longer to work. Try taking Viagra on an empty stomach to make sure it’s not that pizza’s fault it isn’t working.

Your dose is too low

You might not be taking enough Viagra for it to work for you. Viagra comes in three different strengths, 25 mg, 50 mg, and 100 mg, with 50 mg being the usual dose prescribed. Your body may be more resistant to the effects of the drug though, and you may need to take a higher dose.

Don’t up your dose yourself. Talk to our doctors about increasing the dose and let them make the judgement. Viagra can have side effects and a trained professional is best suited to assess your circumstances.

Your erectile dysfunction isn’t caused by impaired blood flow

Viagra works best for men whose ED is caused by a physical problem which impedes the flow of blood to their penis, like high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or diabetes. But if your ED is caused by a different physical issue, such as nerve damage or low testosterone, then Viagra most likely won’t help.

If you have persistent ED, and medications like Viagra don’t work for you, then you should talk to your doctor, as you could have a serious medical condition that you need to know about.

Your erectile dysfunction is psychological, not physical

Sometimes ED isn’t caused by a physical problem at all, but by a psychological one. This is often the case in younger men in their twenties and thirties, who are healthy and fit, but still have problems with erections. Psychological issues include performance anxiety, addiction to porn or emotional problems in your relationship.

Viagra may help with some of these issues, it can take the stress out of performance anxiety for instance, but generally, Viagra won’t help with ED caused by psychological problems. You need to get to the heart of the matter, and you’ll probably do this best by talking to a mental health care professional.

Viagra just isn’t the right drug for you

Everyone is different. What works for some people doesn't always work for others. A quirk of your biology might mean that Viagra just isn’t the right drug for you, no matter how you take it, what dose you use, and how patient you are.

But don’t worry, you’ve got alternatives. Viagra is a type of ED med called a PDE5 inhibitor, but it isn’t the only one. There are other PDE5 inhibitor medications which work in similar ways, but with subtle differences, and your body may respond better to them. If you don’t get any joy with Viagra you can try vardenafil or tadalafil.

Where can I get erectile dysfunction medications from?

ED meds like Viagra, and the alternatives mentioned above, are prescription drugs, meaning you should always make sure you get them from a reputable source. FROM MARS is a registered UK pharmacy and our team of doctors will review your details and prescribe tailored ED treatments if you are medically approved. 

Beware of other websites that will sell you Viagra without a prescription, as you can't guarantee you are buying the genuine product which could be dangerous to your health. 

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  • skin

Cold sore remedies to try at home

Cold sores can be a nightmare. They don’t look great, they can itch, and they can put a temporary halt on your sex life.

But there are meds you can take and cold sore home remedies you can try to ease the symptoms and even help clear them up faster.

What is a cold sore?

Cold sores are small sores and blisters that usually form around the mouth, but sometimes on the chin, cheeks, inside the nose, and inside the mouth. They can be itchy and sore, and the blisters can contain fluid, which if they burst can leak out and dry up, making the skin feel rough and crusty around the cold sores.

What causes cold sores?

Cold sores are caused by an infection of a herpes virus, usually the herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1), but sometimes by the HSV-2 virus which more often causes genital herpes.

The virus gets onto your skin through bodily contact, such as by touching someone’s face if they have cold sores, or that person touching their own face and then touching you. Once on your skin, the virus gets into your body through convenient openings, like your mouth or via a cut or break in the skin. The virus then multiplies and spreads through your skin cells, causing the blisters and sores to form.

How to get rid of a cold sore?

Once you’ve been infected with a herpes simplex virus, unfortunately it’s with you for life, meaning you can’t completely get rid of it. Your body fights the infection in your skin cells, and usually the blisters clear up after a week or two. However, the virus also spreads to the nerve cells in the skin, where it stays permanently. Most of the time the virus lies dormant and you have no symptoms, but every now and then the virus reactivates and spreads into your skin again, and you have another outbreak of cold sores.

How long do cold sores last?

Cold sores usually last from one to two weeks, although they can last up to four weeks and even longer. Some of the treatments we talk about here can help you clear cold sores up quicker.

Do cold sores mean you have an STD?

No. But if someone with cold sores gives oral sex to someone else, they can pass the virus to that person’s genitals, giving them genital herpes, which is an STD.

How to treat cold sores?

You’ve got a range of options for tackling cold sores. Some help ease the symptoms, some can even help your body clear them up faster, and some can even prevent outbreaks from happening.

Cold sore treatments to clear up outbreaks faster

Some cold sore treatments have antiviral properties which can kill the herpes virus, slowing its spread through your skin cells, helping your immune system clear it up faster. So, if you’re asking what can heal a cold sore fast, these are the treatments to try:

Valaciclovir and Valtrex

We’ll start with the best first. Valaciclovir and Valtrex are prescription anti-viral drugs which help your body fight the herpes virus. They’re taken as a pill when the first symptoms of an outbreak appear to help clear them up faster. Valaciclovir and Valtrex can also be taken daily as a way of preventing future outbreaks from occurring, but more on that later. 

Over the counter medications

You can also buy medications to treat cold sores with don’t require a prescription, but these are often not as effective for most people as valaciclovir and Valtrex. One of these is acyclovir, which is an antiviral which helps you fight the herpes virus, reducing the severity of outbreaks, and clearing them up faster. This is often sold as a cream. 

Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera is a plant that contains a gel-like substance inside its leaves. This gel has been claimed to have soothing, moisturising, anti-inflammatory, and healing properties, and although these claims aren’t always supported by science, there is evidence that Aloe Vera gel can help reduce inflammation and slow the spread of herpes viruses. You can find Aloe Vera gel in plenty of face creams and gels that you can apply directly to the cold sores.

Cold sore treatments that help you manage symptoms

These treatments won’t help you clear an outbreak up faster, but they can help you manage the symptoms that accompany cold sores, like pain and inflammation, making outbreaks more bearable. They can be used alongside other treatments which fight the virus directly.


Ibuprofen is a pain killer and an anti-inflammatory. It can reduce any pain that accompanies cold sores and can reduce any inflammation around them.


An ice pack, or ice cubes or frozen vegetables wrapped in a cloth, can also reduce inflammation around cold sores, and can help dull pain.

Cold sore treatments that help you stop outbreaks from happening

Rather than treating cold sores once they’ve emerged, there are even treatments you can take to make outbreaks less likely to happen.

Valaciclovir and Valtrex

Valaciclovir  and Valtrex can be taken in low doses to stop an outbreak of a herpes virus before it even happens. You can take a daily dose, particularly if you think something has triggered an outbreak and cold sores are about to emerge.


Sunlight on your skin can trigger outbreaks of cold sores. Wearing sunscreen, especially on sunny days, can lower the odds of cold sores making an appearance.

Stress reduction and avoiding other triggers

Sun isn’t the only trigger for cold sores. An outbreak can be instigated by a range of triggers, including stress, fatigue, other illnesses, feeling rundown, certain foods, and some things that are just unique to you. Taking care of yourself and avoiding your triggers is one of the best ways to minimise the number of outbreaks you have.

You don’t have to suffer cold sores gracefully. You have a range of treatments you can take to manage the symptoms, to clear them up faster, and to even stop outbreaks from happening.

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  • hair

Why is my hair falling out in clumps?

There are loads of reasons your hair can fall out. Some hair loss every day is normal.

But your hair usually doesn’t fall out in clumps. That means if it does, you probably have a specific medical condition which is causing it to do so.

Here we’ll have a look at some of the different causes of hair loss, and what you can do about them.

Everyday hair loss

The most common cause of hair loss is a natural process called shedding. Your hair goes through a growth cycle in which hair follicles in your skin produce new hairs. These hairs grow, then after a certain amount of time they stop growing and fall out. A new hair then emerges from the follicle to replace it.

Typically, you lose around 50 to 100 hairs a day to shedding, which might sound a lot, but it’s less than 0.10% of the hairs on your head, so it really isn’t. Shedding shouldn’t result in any baldness either, as new hairs replace the ones that have fallen out, and usually hair is lost evenly from all over your head, not in clumps.

What causes hair to fall out in handfuls?

Lots of different things can cause your hair to fall out in clumps, from sudden stressful events, to problems with your diet, as well as certain medications and medical conditions. You can read more about the causes of hair loss in this article, but if you’re worried about it, you should speak to a doctor.

Is it normal to lose clumps of hair in the shower?

It’s normal to lose some hair in the shower, as your body naturally sheds hairs every day. This often happens when you touch and wash your scalp, but hair isn’t usually lost like this in clumps. If you’re losing hair in patches, you should see a doctor.

Is your hair falling out a sign of cancer?

It’s unlikely. In rare cases some cancers, like Hodgkin's Lymphoma, can cause hair loss, but it’s much more likely you’re losing hair due to one of the conditions described here. See a doctor though if you’re worried about your hair loss.

So what causes hair to fall out in clumps?

If you notice your hair falling out in patches, you can’t dismiss this as natural shedding. It’s likely you’ve got one of the following conditions:

Telogen effluvium

Telogen effluvium is a scalp disorder than can cause your hair to thin and fall out in patches. Let’s break it down. The telogen phase is actually a normal stage of the hair growth cycle where mature hairs stop growing. Telogen effluvium on the other hand makes your hair enter this stage of the growth cycle too quickly. It stops hairs from growing and causes them to fall out earlier than they should.

The causes of telogen effluvium aren’t fully understood, but it’s thought to be triggered most often by physical or emotional stress, especially by stressful events. Other causes can include hormonal changes, severe infections, major surgery, a side effect of medications (like beta-blockers and retinoids), and dietary deficiencies including a lack of iron or protein.

With telogen effluvium, hair loss usually happens some months after the event that caused it (from one to six months, with three months the most common), as it takes time for the hair that’s stopped growing to fall out. The good news is that hair lost to telogen effluvium usually grows back once the cause of the condition is dealt with. If you’re diagnosed with it, your doctor can help you get to the bottom of what’s causing it and can advise you how to address the problem.

Alopecia areata

Alopecia areata, also called spot baldness, is another condition which can cause your hair to fall out in patches. It can make hair fall out from all areas of your body, but on your head you will either lose all your hair (called diffuse alopecia areata), or in specific areas (called alopecia areata monolocularis). It will usually happen in patches around the size of a fifty pence piece. These patches can join up too, creating larger areas of lost hair.

Alopecia areata is caused by your immune system targeting and damaging your hair follicles, resulting in your follicles producing progressively finer hair, and eventually no hair at all. No one knows quite what causes this to happen, but it’s partly genetic. This means that if other people in your family have it, you’re more likely to have it too.

Unfortunately, there’s no known cure. The condition can stop by itself, and hair can grow back, but it can start over again, causing more hair loss. When it’s stopped, various treatments can help hair regrow quicker, like cortisone injections. But once it returns there are no treatments which can reliably stop you from losing more hair. This is one of those frustrating health conditions which comes and goes, and unfortunately when it’s present there isn’t much you can do about it.

Scarring alopecia

This is a type of hair loss caused by inflammation in the scalp that destroys hair follicles and replaces them with scar tissue, hence the name scarring alopecia (there’s usually no scarring visible on the scalp however as it happens within the skin). It can cause hair to fall out in patches, but more likely it will fall out in larger areas.

It’s not known for sure what causes the inflammation which results in scarring alopecia. It can occur in otherwise healthy men, and it doesn’t seem to run in families.

Treating scarring alopecia can be difficult. Once the scarring happens, the hair follicle is lost forever, and no hair will grow back. If the condition is diagnosed fast enough, anti-inflammatory medications may be able to stop the hair follicles from being destroyed. If you feel itching and soreness, and notice more hair falling out than usual, speak to a doctor as soon as you can.

Anagen effluvium

This is a type of hair loss usually caused by medical treatments, like radiotherapy or when taking chemotherapy drugs to treat cancer. Hair can fall out in clumps at first, but typically hair falls out all over the scalp. It’s called anagen effluvium, as the anagen phase is the growing phase of the hair cycle, meaning hair is lost as it’s still growing.

As hair follicles aren’t usually damaged with anagen effluvium, the lost hair usually grows back once the medical treatment has ended.

Male pattern baldness

Male pattern baldness (MPB), also called androgenetic alopecia, is the most common cause of baldness in men. MPB mainly causes your hair to thin and recede in specific areas though, rather than falling out in clumps.

MPB is caused by a sensitivity to a hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which causes the hair follicles on your head to shrink, making hair thin over time and eventually stop growing altogether. Thankfully, hair loss with MPB can be stopped and even reversed by using prescription medications like finasteride, also sold as under the brand name Propecia.

What should I do if I’m losing my hair in clumps?

Your first step should be to see a doctor. They can either diagnose you themselves, or can refer you to a specialist, like a dermatologist, who can make a diagnosis.

Your options then will depend on that diagnosis. Some conditions will be treatable, others might have more limited options. If your hair is falling out in clumps, you could have scarring alopecia, anagen effluvium, or male pattern baldness, but it’s more likely to be either telogen effluvium or alopecia areata. The most important thing is to act quickly, as hair loss can often be treated more effectively in its earlier stages.

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  • skin

Cold sore stages

Cold sores happen in stages and understanding what these are can help you.

Knowing what the early stages of a cold sore are will let you recognise that something is on the way, and the faster you act, the faster you can clear them up. Understanding the later stages of a cold sore helps you gauge where you are in the process and lets you know roughly how long you have left until it’s gone.

So, let’s look at the stages of a cold sore.

What is a cold sore and what causes them?

Cold sores are small blisters and sores that usually form around the mouth, but also on the chin, cheeks, inside the nose, and inside the mouth.

They are usually caused by an infection of the herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1), but sometimes also by the herpes simplex virus 2 (HSV-2), which more often causes genital herpes. You usually catch these viruses through body contact. They get into you through openings, like through your mouth or through cuts in your skin. The virus then spreads through your skin cells, causing the blisters and sores to form.

Once the virus is in you, unfortunately it’s there for life. Most of the time it lies dormant and you have no symptoms, but every now and then it reactivates, and you get another outbreak of blisters and sometimes other symptoms too.

How long does it take for a cold sore to go away?

Cold sores usually last between eight to 10 days. They can last up to two weeks however, and sometimes longer. This is often the case if it’s your first outbreak, as the first is usually the worst. If you treat cold sores with prescription medications like valaciclovir and Valtrex, you can usually clear them up, and sometimes you can even stop an outbreak from happening.

How long is a cold sore contagious for?

So, when are cold sores contagious? When you have cold sores, you can have the live virus on your face, and you can pass it on to other people through body contact. Your cold sores are contagious from the moment you feel the first symptoms, usually a tingling in the skin, until the cold sores have gone, and your skin has completely healed.

What can trigger a cold sore?

When you’ve contracted a herpes virus it stays with you for life, and you get periodic outbreaks of cold sores. These outbreaks can be triggered by anything which lowers your immune system, like illness, stress, and fatigue, but they can also be triggered by the weather, and possibly even by food. You might find you have unique personal triggers for cold sore outbreaks too.

How do I heal a cold sore?

Cold sores will heal naturally, but you can speed up the healing process by using over the counter cold sore treatments that contain acyclovir, or better yet, by using prescription cold sore drugs like valaciclovir and Valtrex. You can also use ice to numb any pain, or take pain killers, and whilst these won’t help you heal any faster, they can help you manage the symptoms of cold sores.

The 5 stages of a cold sore

Cold sores usually pass through five stages over the course of 8 to 10 days. Everyone is different though and your symptoms and the time they occur may vary from those described below.

Cold sore stage 1: The first symptoms

One to two days before the cold sores appear, most people feel a tingling on the skin where they’re about to erupt. You can also feel soreness, itching, and tightness of the skin. At this point the virus has reactivated and is multiplying through your skin cells.

Cold sore stage 2: The cold sores emerge

Usually around two to four days into an outbreak, the cold sores begin to make an appearance. They typically look like small red lumps with a tip filled with clear fluid, and they can be itchy or even sore. Your body is beginning to fight the virus at this stage.

Cold sore stage 3: The cold sores burst

After four to five days the cold sores can rupture and leak the fluid that they contain onto your face. The fluid can dry creating a crust, which can be very tempting to pick off. But you should try and resist, as the fluid can contain the live herpes virus, and if you get it on your fingers you can transfer it to other people and other parts of your body.

Cold sore stage 4: The cold sores scab over

By around five to eight days, the ruptured and open cold sores scab over. They can be even more tempting to pick at, as they can be dry and itchy, or even sore. You shouldn’t though, as this is part of the healing process, and you’ll delay it if you pull the scabs off.

Cold sore stage 5: The cold sores clear up

After typically about eight to 10 days, the skin beneath the cold sores is healing, and the scabs begin to fall off. The skin can be a little pink or red for a few more days as it continues to heal.

How to treat cold sores

You can buy a range of products to treat cold sores, including over the counter creams and gels which contain acyclovir, an antiviral which can stop the spread of herpes. However, prescription medications taken in pill form, such as valaciclovir and Valtrex , are usually considered to be more effective. They also contain an antiviral which fights the herpes virus, and they can help your body clear an outbreak up faster. They can be taken daily at a lower dose to stop outbreaks from happening.

As well as antiviral medications, you can also use ice or painkillers to reduce any pain or irritation around the cold sores. These won’t help your body clear the cold sores up any faster, but they can help to ease symptoms alongside antiviral medications.

Remember, knowing the stages cold sores go through can help you understand how long you’re likely to have them, and can help you treat them.

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  • sex

Morning wood and erectile dysfunction

What’s the story morning glory? No seriously, what’s the deal with morning wood?

While you might think it’s the result of dreaming about your ex or your latest Tinder match, it’s likely more an indicator of what’s going on with your health.

Who knew? Here we’ll give you the lowdown on what your morning wood could be all about.

What is morning wood?

Morning wood, also called morning glory, is when you get an erection in your sleep. To get a little bit more scientific on sleep-related erections, you can also call it nocturnal penile tumescence. Morning wood has a better ring to it though, right?

Despite the name, this wood doesn’t just happen in the morning though. Men can have three to five erections per night, usually during REM sleep when we dream. It’s called morning wood because we usually only notice the last sleep-related erection we get, as we wake with it.

Why do men get morning wood?

No one knows for sure. One theory though is that we get sleep-related erections to help keep our penises healthy.

An erection causes the erectile tissue in your penis to swell, oxygenating it, which helps to prevent loss of function in the tissue and keeps it working as it should. Having regular erections when you’re asleep may ensure you can keep having erections when you’re awake.

Why do I no longer get morning wood?

If you’ve stopped getting morning wood, it can be an early warning sign there’s a problem with your health that’s stopping you from getting erections. You should see a doctor ASAP to get yourself checked out.

Is morning wood a sign of high testosterone?

Morning wood isn’t usually a sign of high testosterone. It’s something most men get, and it’s probably something that happens to keep our penises healthy, rather than a sign that you’ve got high levels of testosterone. If you stop getting morning wood, it could be a sign you have low testosterone though, or another medical issue that interferes with erections.

Why is a lack of morning wood a bad sign?

A lack of wood in the morning could be a bad sign because morning wood can be used as a measure of a man’s health.

To get an erection you need a few things to be in working order. The first is a heart and circulatory system that can deliver enough blood to the penis to get it hard. The second is a nervous system that carries the messages from your brain to the nerves down there. And the last is that you need the right levels of hormones, particularly testosterone.

If you’ve stopped getting morning wood, it can be a sign that one or more of these parts of your physiology isn’t working as well as it should. It could be an early warning you have a medical condition that’s impacting your heart and circulatory system, like heart disease, atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes.

On the other hand, it could suggest that you have a condition which is damaging your nervous system, like Parkinson's disease or Multiple sclerosis; or a problem which is affecting your hormones, like thyroid issues or hypogonadism.

There are a huge number of medical conditions that can affect your erections. Some are worse than others, so if you’ve noticed a recent lack of morning glory, you should see a doctor as soon as possible to get yourself checked out.

Of course, there can be less drastic causes of vanishing erections. Certain medications can interfere with your ability to get hard, like antidepressants and those used to treat high blood pressure. Even if you’re taking a drug which can cause erection problems, you should see a doctor anyway, just to make sure you don’t also have another medical condition too.

What causes a man not to get erect?

Lots of things can get in the way of your erections. Problems with your heart and circulatory system, with your brain and nerves, and with your hormones can give you ED. Psychological issues can cause it too, from performance anxiety, to depression, to emotional issues in your relationship, and possibly an addiction to porn. Medications, illegal drugs, and alcohol can cause it. Because ED has so many causes, if you experience it, you need to get to the bottom of it to make sure you don’t have a serious medical issue.

What can cause sudden erectile dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction which happens gradually is probably a sign your circulatory, nervous, or endocrine (hormone) systems are struggling. Sudden erectile dysfunction is more likely to be caused by psychological issues, or by medication or recreational drugs. Either way, you should see a doctor to make sure you don’t have any medical problems.

What can morning wood tell me about erectile dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction (ED), is when a man can’t get or keep an erection that’s firm enough for sex. There are lots of reasons men can develop ED, and morning wood, or a lack of it, can be used to help us get an idea if the cause is physical or psychological;

You have ED, but still get morning wood

If you’ve experienced ED, but you do still get morning wood, it means your body is healthy enough to produce erections, so the problem likely isn’t physical, but in your mind. Psychological causes of ED can include performance anxiety, low self-esteem, body issues, depression, emotional issues in your relationship, and even addiction to pornography.

If your ED is psychological, it’s good news for your health. But just because a problem is in your head, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be easy to fix. You’ll probably need to speak to a mental health professional to address it.

Even if you’re convinced your ED is psychological, it’s still worth seeing your doctor to get your health checked, as sometimes ED can be caused by both psychological and physical problems. It’s best to make sure.

You have ED, and don’t get morning wood

If you have ED and you’ve stopped getting morning wood, then it could be a sign that your ED is physical, and that it’s caused by a medical condition affecting your heart or circulatory system, your nervous system, or your hormone levels. You should see a doctor as soon as possible to get to the bottom of what’s causing it.

How to treat erectile dysfunction?

There are a range of treatments for ED, from using penis pumps to making lifestyle changes.

The most effective ED treatments are prescription meds like sildenafil, vardenafil, or tadalafil.

These ED meds all work in a similar way, helping you to get and maintain an erection by improving the flow of blood to your penis. Often, they’re the first step taken to try and overcome ED.

Waking up with morning wood can seem like the least serious part of your day, but it’s probably good for your penis. And if it stops, it can be a sign something’s up with your health. If you notice your penis is less than glorious in the morning, speak to a doctor to make sure it’s not an early warning sign of something more serious.

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  • sex

Generic medicine vs name brand medicine: Can you really get the same benefits at a cheaper price?

Generic medicines have the exact same effects as branded medicines, but for a fraction of the price. But is this really the case? Sounds a little too good to be true, right? Let’s see.

What is a branded drug?

All drugs have a scientific name, also called their generic name, and often they have brand names too. Like with Viagra. The generic name of the drug is sildenafil citrate, but the company that first made it (Pfizer) chose to sell it under the brand name Viagra.

Viagra is just one example, but most medications have branded versions. Ibuprofen is the generic name of the painkiller and anti-inflammatory medication, but it’s sold under a variety of brand names, like Advil and Nurofen. Finasteride is the generic name of an effective baldness treatment, but it’s also sold under the brand name Propecia.

What is a generic drug?

For lots of drugs, you can get generic versions as well as branded ones.

Generic medications are copies of branded medications. They have the same active ingredient, the same effect, the same side effects, the same strength and dose, and you take them in the same way. The only difference is the lack of branding and the price – generic medications are cheaper than branded ones, often a lot cheaper.

Do generic drugs have the same ingredients?

Generic drugs contain the same active ingredient as their branded versions, and so they have the same effect. Generic drugs may have different inactive ingredients, like the preservatives and fillers used to create the pills, but these inactive ingredients won’t affect the way the drug works. One exception is if you have an allergy to one of these different inactive ingredients, but this is rare. You can find a full list of ingredients in all medications in the patient leaflet that comes with them.

What’s the difference between a generic and a brand name drug?

A brand name drug and its generic versions contain the same amount of the same active ingredient, and so are pharmacologically identical, meaning they have the same effect on your body. The only difference, other than the name and the packaging, and things like the shape and colour of the pills, is the price. Generic drugs are usually much cheaper than branded ones.

Why are generic medicines so much cheaper?

The simple answer is, because the company selling the generic medicine didn’t have to spend money developing the drug.

New medicines can cost a hell of a lot to produce. The company that first makes them needs to invest in research and development, in clinical trials, and then it has to spend on marketing and promotion to make sure the new drug is a commercial success. This can take years and can cost billions.

So, the company that first makes a drug must sell it for a higher price to make sure they make their money back. The companies that make the generic versions don’t have these costs, they just copy the original drug, so they can charge a lower price.

Are generic medicines legal?

Yes, generic medications are perfectly legal, we’re not talking about counterfeit drugs here. Generic drugs are bought in the same places as branded drugs, they’re often sold next to each other on the same shelf.

We can understand why generic drugs may not sound fair though. The company that makes the original branded medication spends billions developing the drug, then the generic manufacturers can undercut them selling the exact same product at a lower price.

It’s not quite that simple though. The original maker of a drug is usually offered a patent by the countries it sells in, which means it’s the only company that can sell the drug there for a certain number of years. Pfizer, the company that developed Viagra, had a patent in the UK from 1998 to June 2013, which meant they had 15 years of exclusivity to make as much money as they can from Viagra.

But in June 2013 the patent protection for Viagra came to an end in the UK, and other manufacturers were free to make their own versions of the drug. You can now choose between the branded medication, Viagra, or generic versions called sildenafil.

Are generic medications really as effective as branded ones?

Generic medications are pharmacologically identical to branded ones, which means they contain the same active ingredient (the chemical which gives the drugs its effect), and the same amount of this active ingredient. There’s no real difference between a 50mg Viagra tablet and a 50mg sildenafil tablet, so they are just as effective as one another.

There is one slight complication though. There’s something called the placebo effect. This is when someone’s beliefs about a medication can affect how they work. Research has shown some patients report they get better results from branded medications than generic ones, because they believe branded medications are more effective, even though they’re identical.

So, although branded and generic drugs are the same, the human mind is a funny thing, and some people may find branded drugs work better for them, even if they’re exactly the same.

Are generic drugs safe?

Generic drugs are tested for their bioequivalence to the branded ones they’re based on, meaning they’re effectively the same drugs. This means they’re just as safe as the branded versions, and that they have the same benefits and side effects.

Can I buy generic medications FROM MARS?

Yes, you can. We offer both brand name and generic versions of popular and effective prescription medications for erectile dysfunction, hair loss, acne, genital herpes and cold sores. Buy proven, effective medications at a fraction of the price:

Erectile dysfunction

· Sildenafil (same active ingredient as Viagra)

· Tadalafil (same active ingredient as Cialis)

· Vardenafil (same active ingredient as Levitra)

Hair loss

· Finasteride (same active ingredient as Propecia)


· Treclin

Genital Herpes and Cold Sores

· Valaciclovir (same active ingredient as Valtrex)

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  • sex

What is jelqing and how does it work?

To jelq or not to jelq? It’s a big question being asked by loads of guys.

Is jelqing just messing around downstairs on your own without any of the real benefits, or does it actually make your penis bigger, wider and perfectly-proportioned for your partner?

Well jelqers, let’s find out.

What is jelqing?

Jelqing is a type of massage technique for your penis. It’s supposed to improve the length and thickness of your erections, without any medication or medical interventions. Yep, you read that right, a bigger erection from just massage.

Depending on who you listen to or what website you’re on, some people claim jelqing is an ancient technique developed in the distant past in Arabia. Others say it’s a recent internet fad, and that the ancient history bit was added to make it sound exotic. As there’s no evidence that jelqing was practised in ancient Arabia, we suspect the latter is probably true.

How do you jelq?

According to the perceived wisdom of the internet, you should jelq once a day, for 20 minutes. The details of how to jelq vary by website and YouTube video, but this seems to be the most common approach:

  • Get yourself semi-erect
  • Make an O-shape with your thumb and index finger
  • Place your thumb and index finger at the base of your penis (you don’t need a jelqing device)
  • Tighten your thumb and finger until you’re putting gentle pressure on your penis
  • Slowly pull your finger and thumb down the length your penis, a bit like squeezing toothpaste out of a tube
  • Release when you reach the end of your penis, then start at the base again, and repeat for 20 minutes

It’s advised you use lube as you jelq, as twenty minutes of “massaging” could chafe.

How would jelqing make my penis bigger?

Jelqing is supposed to do two things to your penis.

Number one. It’s claimed that by massaging in that particular way, you stretch the vessels in your penis, improving the flow of blood into it. Increased blood flow makes it easier for you to get and keep an erection – this is basically what erectile dysfunction meds like Viagra do.

Secondly, it’s also claimed that jelqing causes micro-tears in the tissue of your penis. As these tears heal, it’s thought that new cells grow to fill them, increasing the bulk of your penis. This is a bit like how weightlifting works. When you lift a heavyweight, you cause micro-tears in your muscles, and as they heal you produce more muscle fibres, giving you bigger and thicker muscles.

But, and here’s the killer question, is any of this true?

Does jelqing work?

There are lots of men online who say jelqing has worked for them. Often they’re passionate about jelqing. They’re big jelqers.

But, if you want to know if something really works, you need to look at the scientific evidence. Sadly, there isn’t any for jelqing.

There has been some research conducted on the use of traction devices though. These are contraptions that are worn on the penis over a number of hours to stretch it. But the scientific evidence isn’t encouraging, with most studies concluding traction devices don’t improve penis length or thickness. If traction devices don’t work, it doesn’t look good for jelqing.

Other than the evidence, or lack of it, the reasons stated why jelqing gives you a longer and thicker penis don’t sound very convincing either. There’s no evidence massaging can improve blood flow in your penis. Your penis doesn’t have that much muscle tissue in it either, so it wouldn’t respond to micro-tears like your muscles do.

The two ways that jelqing is supposed to make your penis bigger don’t fit with our current scientific understanding of how the body works.

We can’t say 100% that jelqing definitely doesn’t work, but it’s very unlikely it does.

How long does it take to see results from jelqing?

Committed and experienced jelqers claim you can see improvements in the length and thickness of your erections within one month, with more noticeable gains by three months. Remember these are anecdotal reports though, not verified scientific evidence.

How long should you do jelqing exercises for?

Advice varies, but most jelqers say you should do the exercises every day for twenty minutes.

Does jelqing help premature ejaculation?

There’s no evidence to say either way, but it’s unlikely. Despite what you may see claimed online, there’s no known way that jelqing could help with premature ejaculation.

What are the potential side effects of jelqing?

Jelqing hasn’t been studied scientifically, so no evidence exists of side effects or jelqing risks. Is jelqing dangerous? Probably not. But if you massage with too much pressure, you could cause pain and bruising, as well as irritating your skin, or even rupturing veins in your penis.

Can jelqing cause erectile dysfunction? Without any research it’s hard to say. It’s unlikely but can’t be ruled out entirely.

Do jelqing exercises really work?

Unfortunately, there’s no evidence that jelqing works. The theory behind it doesn’t fit with our scientific understanding of how the body works either. If jelqing really was effective, if it really gave you longer and thicker erections, it’d probably be a lot more popular than it is.

What can I do instead of jelqing?

So, let’s say jelqing doesn’t work. Are there any other ways to get a permanently bigger penis outside of surgery?

A quick search online reveals a wealth of penis enhancers, from herbal pills to penis yoga, but there’s no evidence any of these actually work. And as with jelqing, if they really were effective, they’d be global best sellers.

One option to make your erections look bigger without actually changing the size of your penis is to trim your pubic hair around the base of your penis. You can also try to keep your weight down, to stop the base of your penis being buried as fat accumulates on your pubic bone.

You might also want to consider a cock ring. These are rings you fit around the base of your erect penis. They trap blood in your penis, helping you maintain an erection for as long as you’re wearing it. Other than helping you with erections, giving you stronger orgasms, and making your penis vibrate on command (some of the rings vibrate), some men say they make their erections larger. The evidence of this may not be too convincing either, but at least cock rings do have proven benefits.

Do you really need a bigger penis?

Lots of men worry about the size of their packages. It’s one of the most common sources of anxiety in men around the world. But usually the worry is unfounded.

If you’re watching porn you may feel as though you don’t measure up. Trust us, this really isn’t representative of real life.

In the real world, 95% of men have a penis between four and six and a half inches long when erect, and under four to five and a half inches in girth.

Chances are you likely fall comfortably within this range. Even if you don’t, there are sex positions that suit different penis shapes and sizes. Remember there’s also more to sex than just penises.

If you’re still concerned about the size of your penis, and it’s affecting your life, talking to a mental health professional may help. You can ask your doctor to refer you, or you can try finding a private therapist via the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy website.

Any other questions about your penis and sex?

If you have other worries about your penis, like problems with erectile dysfunction, or premature ejaculation, we may be able to help. We offer a range of prescription medications which treat these conditions, including sildenafil (same active ingredient as Viagra), and Priligy for premature ejaculation.

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  • sex

Porn induced erectile dysfunction: What you need to know

Porn. It’s not what it used to be. Gone are the days of top-shelf magazines or dodgy DVDs passed on the sly between colleagues and school mates.

Thanks to the internet, you’re now two clicks from more smut than you could watch in a lifetime.

And despite being way more hardcore than a few cheeky mags, porn’s more accepted today than it used to be. Loads more people admit to watching it, both guys and girls.

But some guys are worried that watching too much hardcore porn has interfered with their ability to get and stay hard with real-life partners. And sometimes it happens. But it doesn’t have to be a big deal.

What is porn-induced erectile dysfunction (PIED)?

Porn induced erectile dysfunction (PIED) is a condition where guys struggle to get or maintain an erection because of the type and the amount of porn they watch.

Back in the day – pretty much before the internet – erectile dysfunction (ED), mainly affected men over 40, and was usually associated with physical problems like heart disease and diabetes.

Since the turn of the millennium though, rates of erectile dysfunction amongst young men have apparently sky-rocketed (no pun intended). Some experts believe that one of the reasons this has happened is because young men are watching too much porn online.

Is porn-induced erectile dysfunction real?

It’s a controversial topic.

There is a correlation between the growth of internet porn and erectile dysfunction in young men, but no research has yet shown conclusively how watching porn could interfere with a man’s ability to get or maintain an erection.

Some people doubt the link between porn and ED, and some studies have even suggested that watching porn can help.

Regardless of what the experts are saying though, there are plenty of young guys that are having issues with their erections, with a lot believing it’s due to porn.

How does watching porn impact men’s sexual feelings?

PIED is a pretty new phenomenon, and it’s not yet a fully recognised medical condition, as there hasn’t been enough research to show there’s a definite link between porn and ED.

But there are some sensible theories on how watching porn can impact your sexual feelings, which has a knock-on effect on getting and staying hard:

Porn gives us unrealistic expectations of sex

It’s no secret that porn offers an unrealistic view of sex. The actors and actresses look great, are down for whatever, and are usually uncomplicated nymphomaniacs. But that just isn’t real life.

But for some guys, it’s difficult to draw the line and watching unrealistic porn can lead to unrealistic expectations. That means they might be put off by more realistic sex with actual, complicated, emotional human beings.

Porn desensitises us to sex

The more hardcore porn you watch, the deeper down the rabbit-hole you seem to go.

There is a theory that if you regularly watch porn, you need to watch increasingly extreme porn to get off, like a drug user taking larger and larger doses of a drug to get their buzz.

The theory goes that regular sex with real-life partners just can’t compare to extreme porn, and that it isn’t stimulating enough.

Porn makes sex feel more like fantasy than real life

Some think that if you regularly view porn through a screen, it can stop sex feeling like something that happens in the real world. You can become disassociated from sex and come to think of it as something you watch, rather than something you do and actually want to do in real life.

Porn can make you too used to your own hand

If you regularly watch porn and orgasm more through masturbation than from sex, you can become too used to your own touch.

You may reach the point where you can only get and stay hard if you hold and touch yourself in a very specific way that a partner can’t replicate.

Porn makes us anxious about our own performance

Porn performers are usually chosen for their physical attributes and sexual stamina. Regularly watching porn stars have sex can sometimes make people feel insecure about their bodies and their staying power.

This performance anxiety may make you feel too anxious to get aroused.

Porn makes us feel guilty

Some guys may feel so guilty about watching porn that they feel they’ve let their partner down and that they don’t deserve to have sex with them.

Tips for overcoming PIED

If you’ve had problems getting hard in the first place or maintaining an erection, and you watch porn, the first step is for you to see if the two are related.

Try cutting out porn altogether, or at least cutting back as much as you can, and see if this affects your erections. You might have to do this for some time, especially if you feel desensitised or disassociated from sex. If your erections do return to their previous glory, then porn could well be the cause, in which case you’ll need to watch less of it to improve your sex life.

You may decide to cut porn out of your life entirely, but if you don’t want to or you find you can’t resist, you could try changing the type of porn you watch. You might find porn has less of an effect on your erections if you watch softer and more realistic sex, such as amateur porn.

If cutting out or reducing the amount of porn you’re watching doesn’t have any effect on your erections, then something else is probably causing your erectile dysfunction.

There are lots of possible causes, and some are more serious than others, so you need to take this seriously. Here you can learn more about the causes of erectile dysfunction, and what you can do about it.

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  • sex

Depression and erectile dysfunction: The facts

You might not realise it, but an underlying issue could be causing your erectile dysfunction, and it’s not always a physical complaint like diabetes. This guide will give you the facts on ED and depression, as well as advice around treatments, to help you get back to yourself.

Can depression cause erectile dysfunction?

Depression is common in men of all ages, affecting one in five of us. But can depression really cause ED? Absolutely. Feelings of low self-esteem and mental fatigue can play a significant part in lowering your libido, making you uninterested in sex.

According to a 2018 medical study, as many as 62.5% of men with depression can also suffer with sexual dysfunction, including ED. Unfortunately, ED isn’t something you can just switch on and off. So why is depression linked to erectile dysfunction?

It’s all linked to the brain. You’ve probably heard of the feel-good chemicals it naturally produces. These are known as neurotransmitters.

There are four neurotransmitters responsible for keeping you in high spirits. They are dopamine, endorphins, oxytocin and serotonin. Each has the job of lifting your mood — and your erection — whenever you’re aroused.

If you’re depressed, these feel-good chemicals can suffer too, making it harder for the brain to detect and respond to arousal. This can mean ED.

Can erectile dysfunction cause depression?

It’s not unusual for depression to cause ED, but what about the reverse? Stage fright before sex, known as performance anxiety, is just one of many psychological reasons for ED, along with a lack of confidence.

Guys who have opened up about ED often talk about feeling less manly. Others bear the emotional burden of not being able to satisfy a sexual partner, even though most partners are understanding in reality.

You’re not alone. ED affects 4.3 million UK men every year and most don’t just ignore it. Instead, they seek help.

Antidepressants and erectile dysfunction

Often antidepressants, including selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), can provide the help you need to get back on your feet. Unfortunately, these can also have bedroom-related side effects for some guys. So why do antidepressants cause erectile dysfunction?

SSRIs stimulate our neural pathways. These same pathways transmit signals from the brain to the penis. But they can become congested. This can cause ED in men. Further research shows that between 25% and 73% of people experience a sexual issue downstairs after taking antidepressants.

But you don’t have to stop or lower your dosage unless your GP advises you to.

Remember, the point of antidepressants is to help you manage your depression. They’re not there to stop you from having sex. If you are having problems, sildenafil (also sold under the brand name Viagra) is a good option. Sildenafil stimulates your sexual organs by increasing the flow of blood to your penis in the same time it takes to get a cab back to your place.

Common questions about erectile dysfunction and depression

1. Can erectile dysfunction be caused by depression?

Depression can cause ED, with low confidence, anxiety and other psychological factors playing a part. In short, this is due to depleted levels of the feel-good chemicals serotonin, dopamine, endorphins and oxytocin, which contribute to your positive mood and mental wellbeing.

When you’re sexually aroused, the brain sends signals to your penis, causing blood to flow and the penis to harden. These signals can get delayed or lost when you’re feeling depressed, hence ED occurring.

2. Can antidepressants cause permanent erectile dysfunction?

Antidepressants can cause long-term ED, but there’s nothing to say yours will be permanent. Taking measures to treat your depression through other means— be that through CBT, talking therapy or by working with your doctor — will naturally make you less reliant on medication and heighten your libido.

3. Can you take Viagra with antidepressants?

Just as it’s suitable to take ibuprofen with paracetamol when treating pain, there are no rules against taking Viagra with antidepressants to combat ED. Many leading health sites advocate such use, although it’s worth seeking out advice from a medical expert or your GP if you’re unsure or have an underlying health problem — be it mental or physical.

Where to find support for erectile dysfunction and depression

A problem shared is a problem halved.

The first step is talking, whether that’s to a therapist, a nurse, a health professional or a friend. In the strictest confidence, of course. If you’d prefer speaking to another guy, there’s no shame in asking for a male GP at your practice or sexual health clinic.

But remember, doctors of both sexes treat people with depression all the time. They can prescribe and help you more than internet forums.

If you’re suffering from depression, there are advice lines like Samaritans and mental health charities like CALM and Mind that can help, too.

Remember, you are not alone in whatever you’re going through. We’re all guys and sometimes we all need a little help. We’re here to lift you up.

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  • hair

Your thyroid and hair loss: The facts

There are loads of reasons why your hair could be falling out. Thyroid problems are one of them. But try not to worry too much – thyroid hair loss can usually be treated with hormone tablets and hair loss medication.

We’re here to give you everything you need to know about your thyroid and hair loss, including a reassuring note on how common the issue is. For instance, did you know 1 in 20 people in the UK will experience a thyroid issue in their life? If you’re worried you might have a thyroid problem, you’re not alone.

What is your thyroid?

Take your hand and place it gently on your Adam’s apple. Your thyroid gland sits just beneath this. It may look small, but this butterfly-shaped piece of tissue plays a crucial part in all of your bodily functions. Your thyroid is responsible for your body’s metabolism, which is how your body converts food into energy.

But the thyroid gland is also important because it produces two hormones that feed nearly every cell in your body: triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). T3 and T4 regulate everything from breathing to digestion, but how do they affect your hair?

How thyroid issues affect hair loss

Each strand of hair on our bodies begins to grow at the root, located at the base of the hair follicle. Then, the surrounding blood vessels ‘feed’ the root, so that the hair can grow. The hair eventually pushes up through the skin, passing by sebaceous (oil) glands as it goes, to keep it soft and shiny. Your hair will grow for a while, but eventually falls out as it’s replaced by newer hairs.

However, if the production of hormones T3 and T4 is disrupted, this can affect the development of hair at the root, which can cause hair loss. As the thyroid is responsible for the production of these two hormones within our bodies, issues with it can lead to hair loss – whether it’s producing too much (overactive), or not enough (underactive). So, once your hair naturally falls out at the end of its life cycle, there might not be anything there to replace it. This is when hair loss happens.

But try not to worry too much, as both imbalances are treatable and diagnosed by a simple blood test.

What symptoms are associated with thyroid issues?

Hyperthyroidism, or an overactive thyroid, can lead to weight loss and excessive sweating, while hypothyroidism is often associated with weight gain and constantly feeling cold. You might also experience one or several of the following symptoms:


· Anxiety

· Rapid heart rate

· Fatigue

· Shaking

· Increased bowel movements


· Irritated skin

· Swelling

· Depression

· Back pain

· Muscle aches

Men who are diagnosed with one of these two conditions are also at higher risk of losing their hair. If you’re worried about any of these symptoms, it’s worth having a chat with your GP or an endocrinologist (a specialist doctor that deals with hormones) to explore the reasons behind them.

For example, there are conditions like Hashimoto's disease and Graves’ disease, where the immune system attacks healthy cells for no apparent reason. These autoimmune diseases can cause hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism, respectively.

Can hair loss from thyroid problems be reversed?

Yes, when given the right treatment, your thyroid will eventually balance out and return to normal. This process may take several months, during which you might be given carbimazole and propylthiouracil (overactive) or levothyroxine (underactive).

What are the early warning signs of thyroid problems?

People with thyroid issues often complain of not feeling themselves. You may be fatigued or may have gained or lost unexplained weight or muscle. You should also make a note of any sudden mood swings.

If you’ve been feeling tired or noticed changes to your body (in your size or any mystery aches), you should contact your GP and ask for a blood test to check your thyroid levels. This is usually free on the NHS, and you’ll receive your results within a fortnight.

Treatments to help thyroid and hair loss issues

Thyroid problems aren’t usually serious, but you should still get checked out by a doctor to rule out any concerns. If your thyroid is serious, your doctor may put you on a course of hormone treatments to help regulate your thyroid. In terms of hair loss, the treatment we provide is finasteride, also sold under the brand name Propecia. We recommend finasteride to men with hair loss issues, as it blocks the effects of the male sex hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Over 80% of men who take finasteride tablets will be able to stop their hair loss, and many men go on to enjoy healthy regrowth.

Try not to worry, as stress can also be a considerable factor in hair loss. If you still have questions about male hair loss, visit the FROM MARS blog for more detailed guides on the causes and treatments available to you.

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  • sex

Talking to your partner about premature ejaculation

Sex is great and is often a huge part of any relationship. It can create a feeling of intimacy, it’s an expression of how you feel about each other, and it can strengthen your emotional bond and your relationship.

But if there are underlying issues that are impacting your sex life together, it can begin to affect even the strongest of couples.

So, we need to talk about premature ejaculation and how to overcome it. Most importantly, you need to talk to your partner about it. Yes, it might not be an easy topic to bring up, but your sex life together and your relationship will be all the better for it.

So here goes.

How premature ejaculation can affect relationships

PE can make you feel as though you’re not satisfying your partner, and it can lead to feelings of low self-esteem, anxiety, anger, and depression. This can spill over into other aspects of your life too. Low self-esteem and other negative emotions can affect your relationships with friends and even your performance at work.

And PE can harm relationships too. Particularly if you avoid sex, but don’t tell your partner why, because you’re too embarrassed to talk about PE. Your partner will think it’s something to do with them.

Your PE Questions Answered

How can you tell if you have premature ejaculation?

Most men occasionally ejaculate faster than they’d like. PE is when it happens often, or every time you have sex. A man is usually diagnosed with PE when:

  • he usually ejaculates before sex or within one or two minutes of starting sex,
  • he feels he cannot delay his ejaculation, and
  • he feels negative emotions from ejaculating quickly like frustration, anxiety, and depression.

What causes premature ejaculation?

It can be complex, as there is a range of physical and psychological issues that can cause and contribute to PE. Psychological and emotional causes can include performance anxiety, relationship issues, and worrying about erectile dysfunction. Physical causes can include unusual hormone levels, high blood pressure, and diabetes.

How can you prevent premature ejaculation?

There’s not one, perfect cure for PE, as it has different causes. There are behavioural treatments that can help, such as trying Kegel exercises and changing the way you masturbate. Counselling can help, and there are effective medical treatments available too, like Priligy. What works for one man will be different for another, and you may need to experiment to find the best treatment for you.

Tackling premature ejaculation together

Your natural reaction may be to pretend your PE isn’t happening. Or perhaps you want to try and fix it all by yourself? But although the idea of talking to your partner about PE might not sound that appealing, it’s the right thing to do.

It will help. It might actually feel good to get it out into the open, to get that weight off your chest and that worry off your shoulders. Finding a solution to your PE will probably be easier with their support. But first you need to broach the topic.

How to have a conversation about PE with your partner

It won’t be easy, we know. But be brave, it’s for the best. The following advice should help make it easier, too:

  • Choose a time and a place where you both feel comfortable, and there’s no time pressure. At home is probably going to be better than in public, and make sure you don’t have to leave for something half-way through the conversation.
  • Come right out and say it. Be direct. The clearer and more open you can be, the more likely your partner will understand what you’re saying. Open the conversation with something like, “I want to talk about premature ejaculation. I want to talk about ways to treat it, and I’d like your help,” so you’re clear what you’re talking about and what you want from your partner.
  • Be open about what you’re feeling. Discussing your emotions may not come naturally to you, but it’s important for your partner to understand how you’re feeling and thinking.
  • Don’t assign any blame. Talk about your emotions but be careful not to blame yourself or your partner, as you want to keep the conversation positive and constructive.
  • Listen to what your partner says. Let them have their say too and try not to get defensive. You need to both feel involved in the conversation if you’re going to find a solution together.

What to do next?

You should end the conversation by agreeing on what you’re going to do together to address your PE. You may like to try some of the following suggestions:

  • Masturbating an hour or two before you have sex. Some men find they last longer if they’ve already ejaculated.
  • Using a condom which contains numbing agents.
  • Focussing on other aspects of sex. Spend more time on foreplay and oral sex to take the emphasis off penetration, and to make sure sex stays fun and stress-free.
  • Taking PE meds such as Priligy. Priligy is an effective PE medication that’s taken as a pill before you have sex, and it helps many men last longer.

Talking to your partner about premature ejaculation might be tough, but it’s important you do it. You’re in it together, and you’re more likely to find a solution if you tackle it as a team. Keep a positive mindset, follow our advice, and put premature ejaculation behind you.

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  • skin

Does sugar cause acne? How food affects your skin

You may have heard that what you eat can affect your skin. Sugar and fast foods are often considered to be the top culprits in causing acne.

But is there actually any scientific evidence behind this? Or is it just scaremongering?

Ok, so the deal is that a lot of the old advice on diet and acne wasn’t actually based on science. Some people were certain diet had an impact, but others said we couldn’t say for sure as there wasn’t any scientific evidence. But the good news is that scientific research has been conducted more recently, and it has found links between acne and food.

Here’s what you need to know.

What is acne?

Acne is a skin disease which causes different types of spots, inflammation, and even scarring. Acne forms when the follicles in your skin, that’s the small holes that hair grows out of (also called pores), get blocked by sebum oil or dead skin cells. The blocked follicles form various types of spots. They can get infected by bacteria too, causing inflammation and more serious forms of acne.

While blocked follicles cause acne, a whole host of things can make the follicles more likely to get blocked, including hormones making your skin produce more oil, certain meds, and even food.

So what kinds of foods cause acne? And which can help?

What foods can cause or make acne worse?

Sugar and refined carbohydrates

Does sugar cause acne? Two studies found that people with acne tend to eat more sugar and refined carbohydrates (like bread, cereal, pasta, rice, and pastries) than people without acne. When you eat sugar and refined carbs you get a sudden spike in blood sugar, which causes your body to release insulin to lower it again. Insulin can also cause your hormones to become more active, which could make you produce more sebum oil, which then blocks your follicles.


A number of studies have found a link between dairy and acne. Dairy products, like milk and cheese, also make your body produce insulin, so like sugar and refined carbs, more insulin could lead to more sebum oil and more blocked follicles. Cow’s milk also contains a hormone called insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) which has been linked to acne too.

Food high in omega-6 oils

Omega oils are a type of fat your body needs to be healthy, but that it can’t make itself from other fats. You need to get them from your food. You need both omega-6 and omega -3 oils in your diet, but too much omega-6 and too little omega-3 can make inflammation in your body worse, including inflammation around acne. Sunflower oil and corn oil are high in omega-6, and are found in fast food, especially fried fast food, and in processed products like cakes, pastries, and bread.

Fast food

Research shows people who eat high-calorie, high-fat food, especially fast food, are more likely to get acne. Evidence suggests that these foods can change the way your genes express and alter your hormone levels, which could result in more sebum oil being produced. They're also high in sugar and refined carbs, dairy, and omega-6 oils as well.


Chocolate has long been thought to be a cause of acne, and science has found there may be something to this, as studies have shown that men who eat chocolate have worse acne than those who don’t. It’s thought that chocolate makes the immune system more sensitive to acne bacterial infections, making inflammation worse.

What foods can help with acne?

Just as evidence shows some foods can make acne worse, there are foods which can help too. Generally, any foods that keep your blood sugar and insulin levels low, or that have anti-inflammatory benefits should help. Try and include the following in your new acne diet:

Food high in omega-3 oils

We mentioned before that too much omega-6 oils and too little omega-3 can contribute to acne through making inflammation worse. Well, no surprises, research has shown that increasing your omega-3 intake can reduce your chances of having acne and inflammation. Omega-3 oils are found in lots of foods, but particularly oily fish, seeds, berries, and avocados. Taking omega-3 supplements has been found to be effective too.

Foods high in vitamins A, D, and E, and zinc

These nutrients are important for healthy skin and a strong immune system. Evidence has also shown they can help stop acne. Foods high in these nutrients include fish, eggs, nuts, and fruits and vegetables. You could consider taking a multivitamin too to make sure all your bases are covered.

Probiotic foods

Probiotics are foods which contain live microorganisms which are good for your gut and your health. They include probiotic yoghurts and pickled food, like kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, and gherkins. As well as being generally good for you, there’s evidence that probiotics reduce inflammation and lower the risk of developing acne.

Paleo and Mediterranean diets

Certain diets such as the Paleo diet or Mediterranean diet which focus on natural foods, like lean meats, veg, nuts, fruit and contain little dairy or animal fat, have been linked to lower rates of acne. It’s likely this is because the foods in these diets usually don’t lead to blood sugar spikes and increased insulin production.

You can’t treat acne just by changing your diet, but altering what you eat can help. That means you should make changes to your diet alongside other treatments for acne, like skincare products and acne meds such as treclin, and hopefully you’ll see the benefits.

Changing your diet to include foods that help with acne should also make you healthier overall as well. Double win.

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  • skin

The 101 on acne scars

If you’ve ever had acne, you may have been left with acne scarring. If you have acne now, you may be worried you’ll get scars.

Here we’ll let you know the different types of acne scarring, and we’ll give you advice about how you can treat them.

What is acne?

Acne is a skin condition that causes spots, inflammation, and sometimes scarring. People usually get it on their face, but it can appear on the neck, back, chest, and shoulders too. There are also a lot of different types of acne.

What causes acne scarring?

Acne doesn’t always cause scarring, but it can when the more serious types of acne spots form, called nodules and cysts.

These larger spots can cause inflammation in the surface layers of your skin, and this swelling can press into lower layers and damage the structures there. This damage to the deeper levels of your skin is what causes the scars.

Scars can also form if you squeeze your spots to burst them, as it can damage the skin beneath the spots and make the spots themselves worse. We know how tempting it can be to give them a squeeze, particularly when you can see white heads on your spots, but try hard not to, as in addition to giving you scars, it can cause infections in your spots to spread further into your skin too. So it’s best to leave them alone.

Why do I need to know what type of acne scarring I have?

Scars are scars, right? Well, no. Different types of acne scars can respond differently to treatments, so knowing what kind of scar (or scars) you have, can help you pick the best treatments for your skin.

There are two main types of acne scarring, depressed and raised.

Depressed acne scars

Depressed scars, also called atrophic scars, form when there’s not enough collagen in damaged skin tissue when it heals after a spot clears up. Collagen acts as a structural support in skin, think of it like the frame which holds up a house. If your skin loses collagen then it can sag in places, forming depressions on your face. These depressions are visible on the surface of your face as the top layers of skin dip down into them. There are three types of depressed acne scar:

Boxcar scars

These are generally shallow, circular scars, but often with defined, almost sharp edges, giving them the appearance of small boxes (kind of). They often form where a large nodule or cyst has healed. Although they’re usually shallow, they can sometimes be deep, with deeper scars being harder to treat.

Ice pick scars

These scars are narrower than boxcar scars, and usually look like small holes, like an ice pick has been pressed into the skin. They can be harder to treat than boxcar scars, as they often extend deeper into the skin.

Rolling scars

These are roughly circular, like boxcar scars, but are usually wider. They typically have an irregular appearance with less of a defined shape than boxcar scars, often with more curved edges.

Raised acne scars

Raised acne scars, also called hypertrophic scars, are the opposite of depression scars in that they are raised from the skin, rather than indented. And whereas depression scars are caused by not enough collagen in damaged skin, raised scars are caused by the presence of too much collagen. They look like raised bumps and lines on the skin, and although they do form on the face, they’re more common on the back and chest.

How to prevent acne scarring

Unfortunately, there’s no guaranteed way to prevent acne scars. If you have acne, scarring will always be a risk. But you can do the following to help minimise your chances of getting scars and to limit their severity:

  • Don’t try and squeeze or pop your spots, as this can make scarring worse.
  • Use acne treatments to try and limit how bad your acne gets, as generally, the worse the acne, the worse the scarring.
  • You can also make lifestyle changes to try and limit the severity of your acne, particularly by eating some foods and avoiding others.

How to get rid of acne scars?

OK, we have to say this. Treating acne scars can be difficult. Most scars are permanent. No matter the treatment, they’ll never completely disappear. Treating acne scars is more about minimising their appearance, rather than getting rid of them forever. With that said, many treatments are effective though, and they can visibly reduce the prominence of your scars. You’ve got the following options:

At-home treatments for acne scars

You can buy a range of over-the-counter or prescription products which you can use at-home to treat your acne scars, including:

  • Salicylic acid. This is a common acid in many acne treatments and face cleansing products and is found in everything from toners to cleansers to wipes and pads. As well as helping to treat acne, it can also reduce the appearance of acne scars.
  • Alpha hydroxy acids. Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) have a mild exfoliant effect, removing discoloured and rough skin from the surface of scars, making them less noticeable. AHAs can be used to treat all types of scars and can be found in a range of products, including cleansers, lotions, and creams which can be bought over the counter.
  • Retinoids. Retinoids are a type of molecule similar to vitamin A which can speed up cell regeneration and improve skin texture. Products containing retinoids can reduce discoloration and make acne scars less visible. You can buy some mild retinoid products over the counter, but you can also be prescribed stronger retinoid products too, such as treclin.
  • Sunscreen. Damage from sunlight can make scars look darker and more prominent. Wearing sunscreen everyday can protect you from this.

Professional treatments for acne scars

You can also try a range of treatments offered by dermatologists and other healthcare professionals to reduce the appearance of acne scars, including:

  • Dermabrasion. Think of this as deep exfoliation for your skin. Dermabrasion is an effective treatment for reducing the visibility of acne scars, particularly shallower scars, like boxcar and rolling scars.
  • Chemical peels. These are treatments with a strong acid that removes the top layers of skin from your face. You can use some chemical peels at home, but healthcare professionals can treat you with stronger ones. Chemical peels are used to treat all kinds of acne scars, but can be used particularly for deeper scars, like ice pick scars.
  • Laser resurfacing. A laser can be used to remove the top layers of skin. Your skin often heals faster after this treatment than with dermabrasion or chemical peels. It’s suitable for all types of acne scar.
  • Fillers. These are products made of collagen, commercial fillers, or even your own fat. The filler is injected into your skin, and it works by filling in depressions, smoothing your skin and making scars less prominent. Fillers don’t last forever though, they need to be re-done every six to 18 months, but they can work well, particularly for boxcar and rolling scars.
  • Microneedling. This approach uses a needle to puncture the skin to promote healing and collagen formation. It’s a relatively new approach, but there’s evidence that it can reduce the severity of all types of depression scar.


Acne scars can be removed surgically, although this is usually an option reserved for more serious and deeper scarring, as well as raised scars. A dermatologist or surgeon can remove a scar, but this will leave a small scar in its place, so surgery is often best suited for larger, more prominent scars.

Knowing what kind of acne scar you have is the first step in treating them. But you need to have realistic expectations as most scars are permanent. However, there are a range of treatments that can make them less visible.

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  • sex

All you need to know about low testosterone

Testosterone is important for men. It makes us healthy and happy, it helps us put on muscle, it keeps our sex drive firing and our erections hard.

But maybe you’re worried your testosterone levels are falling? Maybe you’re not feeling quite like you used to, and you want to know what your options are?

This is what you need to know.

What is testosterone?

First, the science bit. Testosterone is a hormone, which is a kind of molecule your body makes to regulate how it works. Both men and women have testosterone, but men’s bodies produce much more, usually seven to eight times as much.

Testosterone is classified as a male sex hormone. In men it regulates the development of male sexual characteristics, like your testicles, sperm production, muscle mass, deep voice, and body hair. Testosterone is involved in loads of processes in your body. It also keeps you generally healthy and it helps with your wellbeing.

What is low testosterone?

Low testosterone means your body isn’t producing as much testosterone as it needs to function properly. Testosterone levels vary between men. They can also change as we age. But a normal amount of testosterone in the blood should be 300 to 1,000 nanograms per decilitre. Anything below 300 is considered low. To find out your testosterone levels, you’ll need to have a blood test. You should talk to your doctor if you’re interested in this.

What causes low testosterone?

Testosterone levels change naturally in men as we age. They usually rise during puberty, then remain high until we hit our 40's, when they begin to decline, meaning you can expect to experience some of the signs of low testosterone as you age. However low testosterone in younger men can be caused by other factors:

What is the main cause of low testosterone in young men?

There isn’t one main cause of low testosterone. It can vary from man to man. Causes of low testosterone in young men can include:

  • Stress/Anxiety/Depression
  • Thyroid problems
  • Diabetes
  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • Obesity
  • TB/ Sarcoidosis 

What are the symptoms of low testosterone in males?

Testosterone is such a vital hormone for men, that a wide range of things can happen if your testosterone drops below normal levels. These low testosterone symptoms can be subtle. There might not be one immediate thing you notice, but it could be a combination of some of the below:

Reduced sex drive

Your desire for sex isn’t just mental, it’s influenced by testosterone too. If your testosterone falls, your sex drive (libido) can fall with it too.

Erectile dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction (ED), is when you can’t get or stay erect enough for sex. Testosterone doesn’t just influence your sex drive, it plays a role in erections too, as it is involved in the chemical process that helps you get hard. If you have low testosterone, you may have problems getting an erection or keeping one.

Bear in mind that low testosterone is one of many possible causes of ED. It can be caused by less serious problems, but also by serious medical conditions. If you have ED you should speak to your doctor to get to the bottom of what’s causing it.

Hair loss

Unlike male pattern baldness, which causes you to lose hair on your head but not usually elsewhere, low testosterone can cause you to lose both the hair on your head, but also body hair too.

Losses in muscle and bone mass

Testosterone helps you build muscle and bone tissue. If your testosterone levels fall, you can lose muscle mass and find it harder to put muscle on, and your bones can become thinner and less strong.

Fat gain

Great, so not only can you lose muscle, men with low testosterone often gain body fat too. And to really kick you when you’re down, you can even develop gynecomastia, which to you and me is enlarged breast tissue in men.

Smaller testicles and less semen

Men with low testosterone levels may notice their testicles getting smaller. Usually less noticeable, you may also produce less semen too.


Men with low testosterone can experience reduced energy levels, even extreme fatigue. If you feel overly tired, even though you’re resting and getting plenty of sleep, this could be a sign you have low testosterone.

Mood changes, impaired memory, difficulty sleeping

Because testosterone is involved in so many processes in your body, low levels can even influence the way you think and feel. Low testosterone has been associated with higher rates of depression, lack of focus, irritability, memory problems, and difficulties falling and staying asleep.

How do you fix low testosterone?

The good news is you’ve got a range of options if you want to understand how to increase testosterone. One of the best places to start is to talk to your doctor, as they can assess your situation and advise on which treatments would be best for you. Broadly speaking though, you’ve got two sets of options, medical treatments or natural remedies. Both can be used together of course. You might consider:

Medical treatments for low testosterone

A doctor can prescribe treatments which provide testosterone to your body (testosterone replacement therapy). You should talk to your doctor if you’re interested in these, but they include:

  • Gels which contain testosterone
  • Testosterone skin patches
  • Tablets
  • Testosterone injections
  • Testosterone pellets which are surgically implanted under the skin

Natural treatments for low testosterone

In addition to medical treatments, there are ways you can boost your testosterone levels naturally. They may only provide small increases, but they can be used alongside other treatments. Most are healthy lifestyle changes too, so they can benefit you in a whole range of ways. You can try:

  • Losing weight. Reducing your body fat can lead to increases in testosterone levels, particularly if you’re overweight.
  • Exercise. Getting more exercise can boost testosterone, particularly lifting weights.
  • Changing what you eat. Certain foods can boost testosterone, particularly foods rich in vitamin D, zinc, and magnesium, like tuna, shellfish, eggs, beef, and green vegetables.

Having low testosterone can be bad for your health, your wellbeing, and your sex life. But being aware of the signs of low testosterone can help you spot it. And the earlier you diagnose it, the faster you can treat it.

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  • sex

Penises come in all shapes and sizes

Every penis is different, and it’s perfectly normal to have the occasional moment of self-doubt about yours.

Is it long enough, thick enough, is it an odd shape, does it look weird, does it get your partner off? You might even be asking what’s the normal size of a penis? And how do you measure up? This is something that loads of guys go through and these worries can even lead to erectile dysfunction (ED) in some cases.

You really shouldn’t worry though as penises come in all shapes and sizes. “Normal” doesn’t really exist.

So, before you start opening up Porn Hub and getting your tape measure out to see how you compare, have a read of this. And maybe you’ll start to appreciate what you’re packing.

What is the average penis size?

We’ll start with what we usually want to know the most; how do we measure up against other men.

Luckily scientists have been thinking about this too. According to a study from 2015 of 15,521 men from a variety of countries and races, the average penis length when erect is 5.2 inches. 95% of men were between 3.9 to 6.4 inches long, so you could say a penis below 3.9 inches is short, and anything above 6.4 inches is long.

Length is only half the picture. Luckily the same study looked at erect penis girth as well. That’s the length around the penis - like if you wrapped a tape measure around your shaft. The study found an average girth of 4.6 inches, with 95% of men between 3.7 to 5.5 inches.

So the typical penis is around 5 inches long and almost 5 inches round when erect. But as we’ll explain, you shouldn’t get too hung-up on size, as it really is what you do with it that counts.

What’s the average penis shape?

Unlike size, there’s no definitive research on penis shapes. One expert says there are 4 main penis shapes, another says there are 7, and you can find a whole host of articles online with different numbers, some claiming as many as 15 shapes.

The truth is that penises come in a huge range of different shapes. It’s also not as easy to measure as length or thickness, so there are no agreed categories. But you can group penises into some basic shape types. We’re going to keep it really simple by grouping penises into 5 shapes. We’re also going to compare them to fruit and vegetables, because who doesn’t look at root veg and think about penises?

  1. The carrot: These are penises that are longer than average, but thinner than average.
  2. The sweet potato: Penises that are shorter, but thicker than average.
  3. The cucumber: Penises that are both longer and thicker than average.
  4. The pickle: The opposite to the cucumber, pickles are penises that are shorter and thinner than average.
  5. The banana: These are penises of any length or thickness, but that have a curve in them when they’re erect. They can bend in all directions, up or down, left or right (although not at the same time).

Have you worked out what type of fruit or veg you’re working with? Well, you should. And, no we’re not joking. Different penises actually suit different sex positions. That means that knowing what positions will work best for you will help make you better in bed. Nice, huh?

It’s what you do with it that counts

When we talk about penis size and shape, there are two things you need to remember.

The first is that all things are relative. In the same way that not all penises are the same size and shape, not all vaginas are either (the same is true with anuses, but we’re going to focus on vaginal sex here, to keep it short and simple).

What really counts is the size and shape of your penis in relation to who you’re with. Your penis can be large with one partner, but smaller with another, depending on the size and shape of their bodies. Remember, it takes two to tango.

The second thing is that it really is what you do with your penis that counts, not the size of it. Yeah, you’ve heard this a billion times before, and you might be a bit dubious, but it really is true. Especially because there are some sex positions that will be more suitable for your penis than others. Knowing what these are can help you give as much pleasure as possible to your partner.

Sex positions for a long and thin penis (a carrot)

If your penis is thin in relation to your partner, then sex positions where her legs are close together are best, as this will cause her vagina to narrow. Good positions include the bandoleer, where she lies on her back with her knees tucked up and her feet on your chest. And doggy style.

Sex positions for a short and thick penis (a sweet potato)

If you’re on the thick side, then you may have to stick to sex positions where your partner’s legs are wide apart. And if you’re short, you should go for positions where you can get as deep as you can. Try the missionary position, but with her legs spread and pushed back and up, to roll her hips forwards. The downward dog’s another good option, where you’re behind her and she adopts the downward dog yoga pose.

Sex positions for a long and thick penis (a cucumber)

As above, positions where her legs are wide open can make penetration easier if you’re thick, and positions where she can vary the depth and angle will probably be appreciated. Positions where she is on top will be best, and you’ve got plenty of options, like reverse cowgirl, pole position, and if you’re feeling adventurous, the waterfall.

Sex positions for a short and thin penis (a pickle)

If your penis is short and thin in relation to your partner, then you should opt for positions where her legs are close together and where you can get as much depth as possible. Think doggy style but with her legs together, missionary but with a pillow under her bum to raise and open her up, or the splitting bamboo position.

Sex positions for a curved penis (a banana)

This depends on the direction your penis curves in. If your penis curves upwards, then positions where you face each other will be best, as your penis should match the natural shape of her vagina, so think positions like missionary, cowgirl, and the lotus. For penises that curve downwards, then the opposite will be true, you’ll fit better if you’re behind her, so positions like doggy style, reverse cowgirl, and spooning will be best. When your penis curves to the left or right, then positions where her legs are wide open may be better, like the edge of heaven or the seated wheelbarrow.

Remember, there’s more to sex than penises

Knowing what positions will best suit you and your partner is important, but, although we’re focussing on them here, penises aren’t everything. There’s so much more to sex than just penetration. There’s your attitude, your confidence, your imagination, your willingness to please your partner, and don’t forget you can give a hell of a lot pleasure with your hands and your mouth. And then there’s sex toys, role play… and, well, you get the picture. Know what you’re doing with your penis, but don’t lose sight of everything else.

Will my penis shrink with age?

Another thing men often worry about is penis shrinkage, with many men saying their penises are shrinking as they age, particularly their length when they’re erect.

The good news is that it’s not true. Your penis won’t shrink as you get older, but you can put on fat around the base (around the pubic bone), which can make your penis look shorter as the fat begins to swallow it. So if you want to keep your penis looking its usual glorious self, you’ll need to watch your weight.

All penises are different, but it really is what you do with it that counts. Find the sex positions that best suit you and your partner. And remember there’s a lot more to sex to make sure you satisfy your partner.

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  • sex

Can vasectomies cause erectile dysfunction?

Thinking of getting the snip? Big decision! Loads of guys opt for a vasectomy and there are plenty of factors you’ll need to consider before going under the knife. But is your ability to get and stay hard one of them?

There’s a lot of misinformation about vasectomies and erectile dysfunction. If you’re thinking about having a vasectomy, it can be hard to know what to believe and who to trust. Can they really stop you from getting erections, or is it just a myth?

What is a vasectomy?

A vasectomy is an operation where a man’s vas deferens (the tubes that connect the testicles to the tube that runs through the penis) are cut and sealed. This stops men from being able to ejaculate sperm when they orgasm. It’s regarded as the most effective form of permanent contraception for men.

Vasectomies are a common and quick procedure, they often take less than 30 minutes to carry out, and they’re usually done under local anaesthetic.

Can having a vasectomy cause erectile dysfunction?

Let’s get straight to it. Erectile dysfunction (ED), is when a man can’t get or keep an erection that’s hard enough for sex. You may have been told or read online, that a vasectomy can cause ED, but the truth is, there’s no physical reason why it would.

To get an erection, you need the following:

  • a circulatory system that can pump enough blood to your penis to make it hard,
  • a nervous system that can send the appropriate signals from your brain to your penis,
  • the right levels of the right hormones, like testosterone,
  • to be psychologically in the right frame of mind.

Having your vas deferens cut won’t interfere with your circulatory system, your nervous system, or your hormones. Like any operation, vasectomies can have side effects though these tend to be uncommon and minor, like short term bruising, pain, and bleeding. ED is not considered a side effect.

You might have heard or read that vasectomies can cause ED because they interfere with your testosterone levels.

Testosterone is mostly made in your testicles and is vital for erections. So if you have a vasectomy, will that cut off your body’s supply of testosterone? To put it simply, no. If you have your vas deferens cut, your testicles are still connected to your blood supply, and they’ll continue to secrete testosterone as they did before the vasectomy.

To repeat, there’s no physical reason why having a vasectomy should make it harder for you to get or keep an erection.

But what about the psychological side?

Psychological erectile dysfunction after having a vasectomy

We said to get an erection you also need to be in the right frame of mind, and here’s where a vasectomy could possibly interfere with your erections, although this happens rarely.

Some men can have an emotional or psychological reaction to the operation that could make ED more likely. It may be due to the idea of becoming permanently infertile, maybe prompting feelings of being less masculine, or feelings of depression, and these could affect a man’s ability to get or keep an erection.

However, research has shown this is a relatively rare reaction, that it’s usually related to misunderstandings about what a vasectomy is and its effects on a man. It’s more likely to happen when there’s pre-existing problems in a couple’s relationship.

So having a vasectomy could disrupt you mentally enough to interfere with your ability to get and keep an erection. But it’s unlikely. And if you understand that a vasectomy won’t affect your sex life or your masculinity, and if you’re in a supportive relationship, chances are you’ll be fine.

Can a vasectomy lower testosterone?

No, a vasectomy won’t lower your testosterone levels. Your testicles produce most of your testosterone, so some people think having a vasectomy will cut this supply of testosterone off from the rest of your body. This isn’t true though, as your testicles will still be connected to your blood supply and they’ll still produce as much testosterone as they did before the operation.

Will a vasectomy affect your sex drive?

A vasectomy shouldn’t affect your sex drive, as it doesn’t affect your ability to produce testosterone. The only way a vasectomy could affect your desire for sex is if you have a psychological reaction to it which affects your desire for sex, like depression, but this is rare.

Can you ejaculate after a vasectomy?

Yes. You’ll still ejaculate, and you won’t see a change in the amount, or the colour and the consistency of your ejaculations.

When you ejaculate, you produce something called semen, a mix of sperm, enzymes, sugars, vitamins and minerals, and other biology stuff. Proportionately, sperm is only a small ingredient of semen. Most of the other ingredients of semen aren’t produced in the testicles. They’re made in other glands and organs, like your prostate, which are still connected to your penis after a vasectomy. So there won’t be much of a change to what you ejaculate.

What colour is sperm after a vasectomy?

You won’t ejaculate sperm after you’ve had a vasectomy, but you will still ejaculate semen, and this will look the same as it did before you had your vasectomy. There may be a little blood in your ejaculate a week or two after the operation, but this shouldn’t last for long.

How long after a vasectomy can you have sex?

This is up to you. You can have sex whenever you feel comfortable, depending on whether you experience any pain or not. But it’s often recommended to wait for one week to give your body some time to heal.

What if I have erectile dysfunction after a vasectomy?

As we’ve said, a vasectomy shouldn’t affect your physical ability to get an erection. If you do experience ED after a vasectomy, it could be a psychological reaction to the operation, or it could be caused by something else entirely.

You need to talk to a doctor to get to the bottom of what’s causing your ED, as it can also be an early warning sign that you’re developing a serious medical condition, like diabetes or heart disease. You need to understand if your health is at risk.

The treatment that will work best for you will depend on what’s causing your ED. If it’s psychological, then your doctor will be able to refer you to a mental health professional who can help.

If your ED is caused by a physical problem, then ED medications like Viagra, also called sildenafil, and others like tadalafil or vardenafil, are effective for many men. They may even help with psychological ED, as they can take the stress out of getting and keeping an erection.

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  • sex

Cialis vs Viagra: Which is more effective?

Viagra is the most famous erectile dysfunction medication available but there are alternatives, like Cialis.

Viagra (sildeanfil) and Cialis (tadalafil) work in a similar way but they do have differences. You may find one of them works better for you. But which one, Cialis or Viagra?

To help you decide which of these meds is right for you, we’ll explain how Viagra and Cialis are different. We’ll detail what they do, how they do it, any side effects, what dosage to take, and how you buy them.

What are Cialis and Viagra?

Cialis and Viagra are medications used to treat erectile dysfunction (ED), which is when a man can’t get or keep an erection that’s hard enough for sex.

They’re both swallowed as a pill before you plan to have sex, and they both improve the flow of blood to your penis to make it easier for you to get an erection.

Neither medication will put you in the mood for sex or increase your sexual desire (libido), and they won’t give you an automatic erection. They help turn your desire into a lasting erection, and they’re among the most effective treatments for ED.

Viagra and Cialis also come in cheaper, equally as effective, generic versions too – sildenafil (Viagra) and tadalafil (Cialis).

How do Cialis and Viagra work?

Both medications belong to a class of drugs called phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5) inhibitors. They improve the flow of blood to your penis, making it easier for it to fill with blood, giving you an erection.

Viagra and Cialis work by increasing the amount of a substance in your body called cGMP (cyclic guanosine monophosphate). They do this by blocking the PDE5 enzymes that break down cGMP, causing the substance to build up in your blood. This is good, as cGMP relaxes the muscle tissue in your arteries and penis. This in turn causes them to relax and widen, improving the flow of blood to your penis. It will then fill with blood easier, which helps you to get an erection.

What’s the main difference between Viagra and Cialis?

One of the main differences between Viagra and Cialis is that they are manufactured by different pharmaceutical companies. Viagra is made by Pfizer and Cialis is made by Eli Lilly.

Although both Viagra and Cialis work in the same way, there are some differences between how fast they work and how long they last for.

For most men, Viagra works a little quicker than Cialis. Viagra takes between 30 minutes and one hour to work, whereas Cialis takes a little longer, usually between one to two hours.

The biggest difference is how long they last for. Viagra lasts around four hours for most men, and you may be able to get more than one erection in this time. Cialis lasts for longer, however. It can be effective for up to 36 hours. This has led some people to call Cialis the “weekend pill”, as you can take it at the start of the weekend, and you may reap the benefits until Sunday.

How do you take Viagra and Cialis?

Both drugs are usually taken as pills that are swallowed with water.

Rather than being taken on a regular basis, you take Viagra between 30 minutes and one hour before sex. You take Cialis between one to two hours before, although Cialis can be taken earlier as it works for much longer. You can also take a lower strength version of Cialis on a daily basis for certain conditions.

If you take Viagra when you’re eating, it can slow down how quickly it’s absorbed and how fast it works, particularly if you eat a large, high-fat meal. Food won’t affect how quickly Cialis works though.

What dosages do Viagra and Cialis come in?

Viagra comes in three different dosages: 25 mg, 50 mg, and 100 mg. The usual starting dosage is 50 mg.

Cialis comes in two dosages: 10 mg and 20 mg. The usual starting dosage is 10 mg. Cialis also comes in 2.5 mg and 5 mg strengths pill that can be taken on a daily basis.

How do you buy Viagra and Cialis?

In the UK, both Viagra and Cialis are prescription drugs. You have to get a prescription from a licensed healthcare professional, usually a doctor. Some online retailers are also licensed to make prescriptions, like us at FROM MARS. You can have an online consultation with one of our doctors, and if approved, we’ll ship your medication to you the next day. This is a fast, easy, and safe way to get the meds you need.

What side effects do Viagra and Cialis cause?

As Viagra and Cialis affect your body in broadly the same way, they can cause similar side effects, particularly the more common ones. These include headaches, nausea and stomach upsets, dizziness, facial flushing, and muscle pain. Viagra more often causes sight disturbances than Cialis though, like blurring and having colour tints to your vision.

Side effects may be shorter lasting with Viagra, as it doesn’t stay in your system for as long as Cialis does.

How much do Cialis and Viagra cost?

The cost of Viagra and Cialis will vary depending on where you buy them. Cialis tends to be slightly more expensive than Viagra, as it’s longer lasting.

You can buy generic versions of these drugs too. Generic drugs are copies of branded medications, like Viagra and Cialis, made by different manufacturers.

Generic drugs contain the same ingredients at the same strengths as the branded ones, so work just the same. They tend to be cheaper too. Find out more about generic Viagra (sildenafil) and Cialis (tadalafil).

Cialis vs Viagra – Frequently asked questions:

Can you mix Viagra with Cialis?

No. Don’t take Viagra and Cialis together. As both drugs work in a similar way and contain similar ingredients, you risk increasing the likelihood of getting side effects, including the more serious ones.

Can you take Viagra after Cialis?

Don’t take Viagra and Cialis together, as you risk making their side effects more likely. You should only take one after the other once the first drug is out of your system. Wait at least 24 hours after Viagra, and at least 36 hours after Cialis.

Can you take Viagra or Cialis with alcohol?

Viagra and Cialis can be taken with moderate amounts of alcohol. Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol can make some side effects more likely. Alcohol can make it harder to get an erection, so it may counter the effects of Viagra or Cialis.

So which ED medication is right for me?

This depends on you.

As Cialis works for longer, it can offer you a certain degree of spontaneity. You could feel its effects for up to 36 hours giving you more freedom over when you have sex and how many times.

But if these drugs do give you side effects, Viagra may be a better option, as it’s shorter lasting.

If you have ED and you want to try Cialis or Viagra, then you can always try both (although not at the same time). You can see which drug works best for you and make an informed decision of which is the right one for your needs.

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  • sex

Viagra vs Cialis vs Levitra: Which is best?

Everyone’s heard of Viagra. It’s the most famous erectile dysfunction medication, hands down.

But it’s not the only player on the market. There are also Cialis and Levitra; both effective and popular ED medications.

So which one is best? It’s time to find out.

What are Viagra, Cialis, and Levitra?

Viagra, Cialis, and Levitra are all prescription medications used to treat erectile dysfunction (ED).

The three drugs also come in cheaper, but equally effective, generic versions too. You can buy Viagra as sildenafil, Cialis as tadalafil, and Levitra as vardenafil.

The generic versions are medically the same as the branded ones, so when we mention the brand names here, we’re talking about both the branded and generic versions.

How do Viagra, Cialis, and Levitra work?

Viagra, Cialis, and Levitra all belong to the same class of drugs, called PDE5 inhibitors. They contain different active ingredients, but they all work in essentially the same way.

When you’re sexually stimulated, your body releases a substance called cGMP into the blood and tissues in and around your penis. cGMP relaxes muscle tissue in the arteries that supply blood to your penis and in the spongy material inside your penis.

This relaxation makes your arteries widen, increasing the flow of blood to your penis. It also makes cavities in your penis open up, allowing it to better fill with blood. This is what gives you an erection.

Your body continually breaks down cGMP though, using an enzyme called PDE5. This is where Viagra, Cialis, and Levitra get to work. They block the PDE5 enzyme, stopping it working. This causes concentrations of cGMP to build up, improving the flow of blood to your penis and its capacity to hold blood, making it easier for you to get an erection.

Viagra, Cialis, and Levitra won’t give you an automatic erection after you take them. You’ll need to be in the mood for sex and you’ll probably need some stimulation, then these drugs make it more likely your desire results in a lasting erection.

How do you take Viagra, Cialis, and Levitra?

The three drugs work in the same way, and you take them in the same way too, by swallowing them as a pill before you plan to have sex.

However there are some differences between strengths, doses, when to take them, and how long they last.

What strengths do Viagra, Cialis, and Levitra come in?

The three drugs work in the same way, but as they contain different active ingredients, they come in different strengths:

  • Viagra pills come in 25 mg, 50 mg, and 100 mg strengths.
  • Cialis pills come in 5 mg, 10 mg, and 20 mg strengths. You can also buy lower-strength 2.5 mg version of Cialis that you take every day.
  • Levitra comes in 5 mg, 10 mg, and 20 mg strengths.

What are the typical doses of Viagra, Cialis, and Levitra?

The doctor who prescribes your ED medication will decide on a suitable dose for you depending on your situation and medical history. The typical starting dose for each drug is:

  • Viagra – 50 mg
  • Cialis – 10 mg (unless you’re taking the 2.5 mg daily version)
  • Levitra – 10 mg (sometimes 5 mg for men who are over 65 years old)

You can see the typical starting dose for each medication is usually the middle strength available. This means your doctor can up the dose if it’s not strong enough for you (from 50 mg to 100 mg for Viagra, for example), or reduce it if it’s too strong (from 50 mg to 25 mg for Viagra).

When do you take Viagra, Cialis, and Levitra?

You take Viagra, Cialis, and Levitra before you plan to have sex (unless you’re taking the daily version of Cialis). You have to wait for the medication to take effect, and here’s where the three start to differ more.

For most people, Viagra and Levitra are faster acting, taking around 30 minutes to take effect. Cialis takes longer though, around two hours.

How long do Viagra, Cialis, and Levitra last for?

This is the biggest difference between the medications.

On average, Viagra and Levitra last around five hours. This doesn’t mean you’ll get a five hour erection (how long you last shouldn’t change), but that you should be able to get and keep an erection more easily during this time. You may be able to get more than one erection in this period.

Cialis lasts for much longer, up to 36 hours. This has led to some people calling it the ‘weekend pill’, as you can take it at the start of the weekend and enjoy the benefits until Sunday.

What side effects do Viagra, Cialis, and Levitra have?

As the drugs work in broadly the same way, they have similar side effects. Most are relatively mild, like headaches, a stuffy or runny nose, facial flushes, an upset stomach, and back pain.

There are some differences in side effects though. Viagra is more likely to cause vision changes, like blurred vision or a blue tint to your vision. Cialis can cause pain in your arms and legs. Cialis and Levitra are more likely to cause indigestion, while Levitra and Viagra are more likely to cause dizziness.

Side effects are difficult to predict as people respond differently to medications. You might get no side effects at all, or you might get more side effects with one drug than the other. You won’t know until you try them.

Which is better, Viagra, Cialis, or Levitra?

Truth is, there is no simple answer. We can’t say that one of them is always better than the others for every man that takes them.

All three medications are medically proven to help you get and keep an erection if you have ED. No one ED drug is universally better than the others though. Different men have success with different medications. One of the three may be more effective for you, but you’d need to try all of them to know for sure.

Which is best for me?

This depends on you.

The main difference between these three ED medications is that Viagra and Levitra are faster acting than Cialis, but Cialis lasts for longer. If you know when you’re going to have sex, Viagra or Levitra may be the more suitable option. If you want more spontaneity, and you want the option of having sex at any point over a few days, Cialis might suit you better.

You may also find you simply react better to one of the medications. Everyone responds differently to drugs. You may get better results with one of three, or you may get less side effects with one of them.

To start the process, you can have an online consultation with our doctors. They’ll assess your needs, your medical history, and they may recommend one of the three as more suitable. They are here to help you find which medication works best for you.

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  • sex

Prostate cancer and erectile dysfunction

If you’ve been diagnosed with prostate cancer, you may find that you’ll experience erectile dysfunction as a side effect of your treatment. Most men will see significant improvements within one year after treatment, however there is also a range of options for managing erectile dysfunction while you are recovering. Here we’ll look at how ED and prostate cancer are related and advise on what you can do about it.

Does prostate cancer cause erectile dysfunction?

No, prostate cancer doesn’t cause erectile dysfunction. Not usually anyway. It’s not the cancer itself that causes ED, but the various treatments for prostate cancer that can have an effect.

Erectile dysfunction can happen after the prostate is surgically removed (a prostatectomy), particularly if nerves and blood vessels connected to the penis are damaged.

The chance of experiencing problems with erections, and the severity, depends on the type of surgery (i.e. if it spares nerves or not). If the nerve-sparing technique is used, most men recover their previous function after one or two years. If it isn’t used, recovery may take longer or may not happen at all.

The good news is that there are treatments available for erectile dysfunction that can help manage the condition while your body is recovering.

Radiation therapy and erectile dysfunction

ED is the most commonly reported long-term complication of radiation treatments, although it doesn’t happen to all men.

It can depend on the treatment you receive. For guys that receive seed implants (brachytherapy), about 30% to 50% experience ED and around 30% to 70% of men who receive beam therapy also get ED.

It can happen because radiation damages the prostate and other surrounding tissue, which can make it difficult to get and maintain erections. The damage and loss of function tend to happen slowly, with the first signs occurring around six months after treatment begins. Unfortunately, few men return to their full pre-treatment function naturally, but some treatments can be effective.

Hormone therapy and erectile dysfunction

Hormone therapy can reduce testosterone levels, which can result in a reduction of sexual desire and cause problems with erections.

This happens most often between two weeks to a month after the therapy begins, with most men returning to their pre-treatment function after the hormone therapy ends.

Chemotherapy and erectile dysfunction

Chemotherapy doesn’t usually cause erectile dysfunction, although it can cause a loss of sexual desire.

Is erectile dysfunction a sign of prostate cancer?

Most likely not. Just because the two are interrelated doesn’t mean that one always follows the other. Remember, it’s the treatments for prostate cancer that can cause ED.

There are many causes of erectile dysfunction. Some are physical, some to do with your lifestyle choices, and some caused by your state of mind.

It can happen once in a while, or it might be an ongoing problem. If it’s something that keeps happening, make sure you get to the bottom of why you’re experiencing it by speaking with your doctor.

Hopefully you’ll be able to put it behind you and also get that all-important peace of mind of knowing it’s not being caused by a serious health problem.

Learn more about the causes of erectile dysfunction and what you can do about it.

Treatments for erectile dysfunction

If you’re being treated for prostate cancer and you’ve experienced erectile dysfunction, or are worried about it, talk to your doctor.

They’ll likely have helped patients with this before or will know how to put you in touch with a doctor that has. An experienced medical professional or specialist can diagnose the problem causing your ED and can recommend appropriate treatments.

To give you an idea of the sort of thing to expect, here are some common treatments for erectile dysfunction:

Oral medication

Drugs such as sildenafil (the active ingredient in Viagra), tadalafil (the active ingredient in Cialis) and vardenafil (the active ingredient in Levitra), can help with prostate cancer-induced ED, particularly if you’ve had nerve-sparing prostate surgery. These drugs can also be effective if you’ve received radiotherapy.

Penis injections

If oral medications don’t work effectively, drugs which help blood flow can be injected directly into the penis. Up to 80% of men can get erections after an injection, but there are side effects, including a little pain and scarring of the penis.

Penis suppositories

Drugs which can aid blood flow can also be applied to the penis as a suppository (like a pill) inserted in the urethra (the tube which your urine and ejaculation come out of).

Putting a small pill up your urethra may not sound too easy, but there’s a plastic applicator device that makes it as simple as possible.

Vacuum Constrictive Devices (VCDs)

Think penis pump.

The pump is placed over the penis; then air is sucked out to create a vacuum which encourages the penis to fill with blood. The erection is maintained when the pump is removed, by placing a band around the base of the penis which is tight enough to stop the blood flowing out.

Patients report that the band can be uncomfortable, but penis pumps are generally effective.

Penis implants

An implant, sometimes called a prosthesis, is a device that is put inside the penis to help it get hard at the required time.

Some are like rods, but most work by being inflated with air to make the penis rise and harden. They can be very effective but be aware that they require surgery to implant.

Support for erectile dysfunction

The above treatments can be effective at helping to overcome ED.

There are other forms of support too, which help with the mental side of things. These include talking about it with a psychiatrist or counsellor.

Your doctor can refer you to an NHS therapist, although there can be long waiting lists, depending on where you live. You can try finding a private therapist via the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy website.

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  • sex

Get the most out of your erectile dysfunction medication

Most men want to overcome their erectile dysfunction without going to the end of the world and back, and most can. Erectile dysfunction tablets like sildenafil (Viagra) are highly effective treatments, but you can also take additional, healthy steps to maximise the benefits of your medication. That doesn’t mean taking a higher dose than what was prescribed to you, but there are ways to improve how well your body absorbs the chemicals found in ED tablets that relax the blood vessels to help blood flow more freely to your penis.

We’ll explain more in this blog post, which is full of advice on the correct sildenafil dosage, and how to make ED meds more effective.

When should I take ED medication?

The most common questions about erectile dysfunction tablets relate to timings. ‘When to take Viagra for best results’ is a popular search term. The answer? Every tablet is different. You can take sildenafil (the active ingredient in Viagra) 30 minutes to an hour before sex. That’s the same for vardenafil (Levitra). The only difference is tadalafil (Cialis) which, due to it lasting longer (36 hours in some cases), should be taken an hour to two hours prior. But time isn’t the only factor you should consider. Diet also plays a major role in ED.

Fatty meals and ED medication

We tend to group fatty foods and high blood pressure together, but you might not have thought about the link between fat and erectile dysfunction. In more general terms, poor lifestyle choices can bring about problems in the bedroom. For instance, if you have a diet that’s high in fat, you’re at higher risk of obesity and high blood pressure, which can contribute to ED. More specifically, eating a fatty meal before taking the medication can slow down your digestion. Because of this, you should opt for lighter choices on the days you plan to have sex. If you still want to indulge, do so at breakfast or lunch. That way, you’ll be more likely to get an erection later.

ED medication and alcohol

It’s not uncommon to feel amorous after a few glasses of wine, but mixing alcohol with your ED medication can make you ill. Drinking can relax the muscles around your blood vessels, which is also how ED tablets work. The scientific word used to describe this relaxation response is vasodilation. When the muscles around your blood vessels relax, blood passes through your body more freely. Too much vasodilation and you may feel lightheaded or dizzy. That’s not to say you can’t drink at all. It’s possible to drink on ED medication but don’t go overboard. Having a moderate amount is safe in some — but not all — cases. Check beforehand!

Common questions about ED treatments

Still unsure how to take Viagra?

Like all ED tablets bought FROM MARS, our doctors will determine if it is a medically appropriate treatment for you and prescribe your dosage (this is imperative for prescription-only drugs). The standard dose can vary between medications, for example 50 mg is standard for Viagra whereas 10 mg is the recommended starting dose for Cialis. In addition, some tablets can be swallowed while others dissolve on the tongue, so always read the instructions in the leaflet provided. 

How is erectile dysfunction diagnosed?

If you’ve tried to have sex after a heavy night of drinking, your erectile dysfunction may be a red herring. However, if you are repeatedly experiencing erectile dysfunction — be that with a partner or by yourself — the first thing you should do is speak to your doctor. This is the only way to rule out any serious health issues. There’s no need to feel embarrassed or ashamed, ED is a common complaint that can be detected easily through a blood or urine test, an ultrasound, or a pain-free physical exam. It’s better to check than risk your health.

What other ED treatments are available?

Tadalafil and vardenafil are prescription-only treatments for ED. This is partly because these medicines are stronger, and dosages can differ greatly. Speak to us if your body is not responding to the sildenafil found in Viagra, as our doctors may determine that a different treatment may be more appropriate for you.

Drug interactions

We’ve mentioned some of the science behind erectile dysfunction tablets. Remember, these PDE5 inhibitors affect the flow of blood and can cause a dangerous drop in blood pressure if taken with beta-blockers or nitrates. For this reason, you should also avoid taking erectile dysfunction medicines with blood thinners like Coumadin (warfarin) and Lovenox (enoxaparin). Doing so can cause dizziness, headaches and even fainting. If you are taking medication for a pre-existing issue, your doctor may recommend new treatments or changes to your lifestyle.

Consider healthy lifestyle changes

We often overlook the toll our lifestyles can have on our health, but this can be the difference between managing ED and not. Recreational drugs, alcohol, and smoking can cause hormonal imbalances and impact blood flow, as can eating greasy foods. Take steps to improve your health. Exercising can increase endorphins and other feel-good chemicals, which can be good for your physical and mental health — both of which are linked to erectile dysfunction. If you are suffering from depression or anxiety, know that you are not alone and that there are people out there who can help you through with advice, support, counselling and mindfulness opportunities.

Look after yourself and your erection will do the same — with or without medication. Should you want more advice, you’ll find it across the FROM MARS blog. If it’s ED you’re concerned about, we’ll help you through.

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  • hair

Can stress cause hair loss?

Stress can build up for many different reasons, but can it cause hair loss? It may sound like a made up fact, but stress-related hair loss is very real. The irony is that losing your hair in itself can be a very stressful experience, so many men fall into a vicious cycle. The good news is that hair loss from stress is rarely permanent, so long as you can control or manage whatever it is that’s putting you under pressure. This guide will give you the facts on stress and hair loss to help you bounce back.

The link between stress and hair loss

We shed between 50 and 100 hairs a day, which is just a small number compared to the other 150,000 hairs on your scalp. Problems occur when this hair doesn’t grow back. If stress is causing your hair to fall out, you may have what’s known as telogen effluvium. This is when the body releases high amounts of the stress hormone cortisol. It’s what gives us our fight or flight response, which is why it’s common to feel on edge when you’re stressed. Unfortunately, this process causes a hormonal imbalance that temporarily turns off your hair follicles and pushes them into a 'resting phase'. This resting phase happens while your body deals with whatever threat it’s detecting. In this case, stress.

Different types of stress-related hair loss

Telogen effluvium isn’t the only cause of stress related hair loss. Some men may find that stress causes problems with their immune system which then attacks the hair follicles; some even uncontrollably pull their hair out themselves. We’ll explain more in this section.

Alopecia areata

There’s a good chance you’ve heard of alopecia. If you haven’t, it’s when you begin to lose hair from separate parts of your scalp. This is different from male pattern baldness, which often starts at the crown or recedes from the forehead. There are different types of alopecia, but the one we’re concerned with is alopecia areata. If you suspect alopecia areata, you’ll likely notice coin-shaped patches around your scalp and beard area.

Alopecia areata is triggered by inflammation, brought on by complications with your immune system. It’s what we call an autoimmune disease: the body’s natural defences get confused and begin attacking healthy cells. Alopecia areata is more common in people going through severe stress. That could be from trauma, injury, or a sudden death. We all manage stress in different ways, and we all have methods of coping, although some can be more harmful to your recovery than others.


You’ll probably be aware of trichotillomania without having ever known the name. Trichotillomania, or trich, is a mental health condition that causes people to pull their hair out. Often a person might pull their hair out as a direct response to a stressful situation, or they might not be aware that they are doing it. The reasons for trich are fairly unknown, but doctors liken it to the imbalance of brain chemicals that causes OCD.

How to know if your hair loss is caused by stress

As well as obviously feeling stressed, there are many other tell-tale signs to be aware of if you experience hair loss. For starters, hair loss from stress is more sudden and likely to occur in random places of your scalp. Male pattern baldness, which is often hereditary, is a more gradual process. You may notice your hair thinning out over several years, or your father may have gone bald or receded at a similar age as you.

What if you were stressed several months ago but aren’t stressed now? Many men say they’ve begun losing hair weeks, months or years after feeling stressed. That’s because the hair loss cycle isn’t immediate. You may have to wait several months for your hair to grow back naturally, or in the worst circumstances several years, which is why many men opt for medication. We’ll explain this in more detail later on.

Common questions about stress and hair loss

1. Can stress cause hair loss and will it grow back?

The answer to both questions is yes. The three main conditions that cause stress related hair loss are telogen effluvium, alopecia areata and trichotillomania. Thankfully, hair loss from stress is usually temporary. As well as resolving any emotional issues, we recommend taking finasteride to block certain hormones that speed up hair loss.

2. Can stress and anxiety cause hair loss?

Yes. When we feel anxious, our bodies go into their fight or flight mode, which triggers the hormone cortisol. This process places the scalp in a resting period. As a result, the hair that’s shed isn’t replaced, which leads to thinning or balding.

3. How do you stop hair loss from stress?

The best way to stop stress-related hair loss is to manage whatever it is that’s causing you stress in the first place. There are varying levels of stress and everyone differs in how they handle it.

4. Can stress cause bald spots?

Severe stress can cause alopecia areata, which often leaves bald spots in different parts of the scalp. This is due to inflammation, brought on by your immune system. Other hair loss is categorised by thinning or hair simply falling out in large chunks.

Managing your stress and hair loss medication

Because stress is so common, there are multiple options available to get you back on track. The first place to start is a visit to your GP, as they can refer you to a specialist therapist. If you’re not prepared to go down this route, then the other most effective way to cope with stress is to open up. Speaking to friends or family can really help. When we find ourselves in a stressful situation, we have a tendency to think and act irrationally. Speaking to someone that’s less involved is often the best way to get perspective and clarity on a difficult situation.

As for hair loss medication, the most effective treatment is finasteride, which is also available under the brand name Propecia. Finasteride works by inhibiting the sex hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which is a common cause of hair loss in men who are born more sensitive to DHT. Remember, stress is temporary and so is stress related hair loss. Hang in there.

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  • sex

How to tell a partner if you have genital herpes

There are probably few conversations you want to have less than telling a partner you have genital herpes. It’s only natural to worry about it. Just the word herpes sounds bad, and there’s still a strong stigma around sexually transmitted infections (STIs). You might be scared that your partner will see you differently, that it’ll affect your relationship, or that you won’t be able to date if you have genital herpes.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Let’s start with how to tell your partner.

The most important piece of advice – know what you’re talking about

OK, first things first. You have to be clear in your own head about what genital herpes is, what causes it, what symptoms it has, and how it’s transmitted.

Your partner probably won’t know much about it, so you need to be able to explain it clearly to take the mystery and the fear out of it. You have to able to answer any questions they have simply and with confidence if you’re going to be able to reassure them. If you’re unsure about any aspects of genital herpes, here are a few pointers to get you started.

Before starting any conversation, get tested and make sure you definitely have it. You should go to a sexual health clinic while you have symptoms. They’ll get you tested and can also explain the infection to you and give advice on talking to your partner.

Do I have to tell my partner?

Yes. Herpes is an STI, it can have painful symptoms, and once someone’s infected, it stays with them for life. Your partner has a right to know they have a risk of catching genital herpes if they have sex with you.

In the UK, if you don’t tell someone you have an STI and they contract it from you, you can be charged with a criminal offence, like intentional or reckless sexual transmission of infection, or even the more serious reckless grievous bodily harm.

Tell them early

If you’ve just started seeing someone and you’re worried about dating with genital herpes, you need to speak to them as early as possible. However, this isn’t really a first-date conversation. They’ll likely react to the news better if you’ve already built some sort of relationship. You do need to tell them early though, especially before you have any sexual contact. You need to give a new partner the opportunity to make an informed decision before they sleep with you.

If you’re already in a relationship, you need to tell your partner as soon as possible. You need to decide on any changes you may need to make to your sex life, and you don’t want to give them even a hint of an impression you’re keeping it from them.

Pick the right time and place

You should have the conversation when you both have time to talk it through, without any time pressures or other distractions. Don’t try and tell them while you’re rushing to leave for work in the morning or as they’re drifting off to sleep at night.

Pick somewhere where you’re both comfortable and can talk freely. Talking at home over a coffee on a weekend afternoon is probably going to be better than in a public place.

Set the tone of the conversation

You want to be clear and confident, and you also don’t want to talk about your infection as if it’s a huge problem. Don’t use overly negative words, and don’t open by saying something like, “I’ve got some terrible news for you,” or, “promise you won’t freak out,” as this sets the wrong tone, and telling someone not to freak out is the best way to actually make them freak out. Start the conversation by saying something like, “I’ve just had the results of a test, and I’ve found out I have an infection that causes genital herpes.”

Stay calm

Your partner may react emotionally. It might be a shock to them, they may not understand, they might be scared, and they may react badly. Let them. Try not to get emotional too though, don’t get defensive, as this will likely only make things worse. Stay as calm as you can and stick to the facts. You might need to give them some time to process it and think before you continue the conversation.

Talk about how your herpes infection will affect your sex life

After telling your partner what genital herpes is, what causes it, and what the symptoms are, you need to talk about your sex life. You need to be clear to them that there is a chance they’ll catch genital herpes from you, but that there are actions you can take to minimise the chances. Always try and follow these dating with genital herpes tips:

Don’t have sex when you have an outbreak of genital herpes

Genital herpes is highly contagious, and your partner is most likely to catch it when you have an outbreak of symptoms. Don’t have sex, including oral sex and foreplay, from when you first notice the symptoms until seven days after they’ve cleared up.

Use condoms when you have sex

You should use condoms even when you don’t have any signs of an outbreak, as the virus can be present in bodily fluids, like semen.

Use genital herpes treatments

You can take genital herpes medications, like valaciclovir, which can help limit the severity of outbreaks and clear them up quicker. They can even be taken to stop outbreaks from happening, reducing your chances of passing it on.

Dealing with rejection

You have to face the possibility that your partner may reject you. Even if you follow every piece of advice here, they may choose to stop seeing you. This can be painful, but it’s their right. Not everyone will reject you, though. Don’t assume they will. Genital herpes is one of the most common STIs, and many, many people who have it enjoy fulfilling sex lives.

If you feel depressed or anxious, it may help to talk to someone. You can ask your doctor to refer you to a mental health professional, or you can find one online through the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy.

The bottom line is that telling someone you have a herpes infection won’t be an easy conversation. But by following the advice here, you give yourself the best chance of making it a success. You will have to make some changes to your life, but you can still date and have relationships if you have genital herpes.

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  • skin

Acne face map: What your spots mean

How many treatments and possible solutions have you tried to clear up your acne? How many have worked?

When you’ve got acne, it can feel like a never-ending battle. But have you ever heard of acne face mapping? We’ve got the lowdown on what it might mean for your acne. And if it’s even a thing.

What is face mapping?

Face mapping is the idea that different areas of your face are linked to different areas of your body. It comes from traditional alternative medicine, with practitioners believing that health issues elsewhere in your body can be read on your face. Face maps vary by tradition and culture, but your cheeks could correspond to your pancreas for example, meaning acne on your cheeks could be a sign you have an issue with your pancreas.

Sounds a bit dubious? Yeah, we agree. Here’s why:

Is face mapping for acne accurate?

Yes and no.

Unfortunately, life isn’t as simple as the traditional face mappers would have you believe. There’s no medical evidence to support this kind of face mapping, and it doesn’t fit with our modern understanding of how the body works or what acne is. Everything is connected, yes, but not in such a simplistic way.

However, scientific research has found links between acne on certain areas of the face and specific causes, like hormones and hair products. Traditional face mapping may not be accurate, but a newer view of face mapping, supported by science, may be able to help. So let’s get into it. We’ll look at what could cause acne in specific areas of your face.

A reliable acne face map

You get acne when the follicles in your skin get clogged with things like oil and dead skin cells. The follicles become inflamed and can get infected by bacteria too, causing the pimples, redness, and the blackheads and whiteheads. So anything that causes your follicles to get clogged can cause acne. But different things can cause or worsen this clogging in different areas of your face. Let’s start at the top:

Acne on your forehead and around your hairline

Acne here can be caused by using hair products if they contain ingredients which can block pores. If you have acne in this area and you’re asking yourself how to get rid of spots on your forehead, you can try switching hair products to find ones which are kinder to your skin. You’ll have to experiment, but generally, thicker and stickier products, like wax and gel are more likely to cause acne, and you may fair better with lighter hair products like mousse.

Acne on your forehead and nose (T-zone)

A lot of people produce more sebum oil (a type of oil your skin makes to keep it healthy) in the T-zone than other areas of their face, so this is a common area for people to get acne. There’s evidence too that stress can cause or worsen nose and forehead acne. So if you want to get rid of acne in your T-zone, you need to try and de-stress.

Whenever anyone tells you to de-stress, they always seem to recommend meditating and yoga, but we’re pretty sure most people ignore this. Great if yoga and meditation work for you, but no worries if they don’t. Do what’s best for you, as long as it’s reasonably healthy. Go for a run, listen to music, play video games, whatever relaxes you.

Acne on your cheeks

Anything that regularly presses against your face here could be contributing to acne on your cheeks. Sometimes acne can be caused and worsened by something rubbing against your skin (called acne mechanica), like your phone or your pillow. It also doesn’t help if these objects aren’t clean either, as they can lead to infections, and there’s some real horror stories about what can be found on both your phone and your pillow. You should clean your phone regularly with antibacterial wipes, and you can try changing your pillowcases to a softer material. And remember to wash them often.

Acne around your chin and along your jawline

Chin and jawline acne is often caused by fluctuations in your hormones, usually by too much androgens (male sex hormones, including testosterone). These hormones can make the oil glands in your skin produce more sebum oil, clogging your pores. Hormonal acne is more common in your teens, when you’re going through puberty, so it often clears up naturally with time. If not, you can try changing your diet to get rid of acne on your chin and jaw, as certain foods can increase your hormone levels.

This version of acne face mapping may help you tackle your acne by helping you understand what’s causing it. But remember that anything that blocks your pores can cause acne, so this isn’t bulletproof. There are plenty of other things you can do to help clear acne up too, like practicing good skin care and eating healthily. You can also try acne meds like treclin gel.

Face mapping can help, but you need to experiment to find what works best for you.

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  • skin

What causes cold sores?

It’s back! A cold sore can creep up again when you thought you’d dealt with it last time. Sometimes not knowing what to do and how to get rid of it can be so frustrating. If you go online, there’s loads of advice. But it’s not always accurate.

That’s what we’re here for. We’re giving it to you straight.

What is a cold sore?

Cold sores are small blisters or sores that usually appear around the mouth at the edge of the lips, but they can also form on your chin, cheeks, inside your nose, and even in your mouth. They can itch and hurt, and the blisters often contain a fluid, which can crust over if the blisters burst, forming an area of hard, dry skin. Nice.

What causes cold sores?

There’s only one thing that causes cold sores, an infection by a herpes virus. There are different types of herpes virus, and the one which most often causes cold sores is called herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1). Cold sores can also be caused by the herpes virus which most often causes genital herpes too, herpes simplex virus 2 (HSV-2).

Herpes viruses usually spread through skin-to-skin contact. Someone with cold sores might touch their face and then touch you, or you could get the virus on your face by kissing someone with cold sores. Once the virus is on your skin, it finds its way into your body through convenient openings, like through cuts, or through orifices like your mouth. The virus then spreads through your skin cells, causing the blisters to form on the surface of your skin.

Unfortunately, once you’ve been infected by a herpes simplex virus, it stays with you for life. The virus works its way into the nerve cells in your skin, and it stays there for good. Your body can fight the virus when it's in your skin cells, but not when it’s in your nerves. Most of the time the virus stays dormant and you have no symptoms, but every now and then the virus reactivates and spreads out from the nerves into the surrounding skin cells, causing cold sores to form again. This occasional reactivation of the virus is called an outbreak or a flare up.

What can trigger a cold sore?

Cold sore flare ups usually happen around two or three times a year, but this can vary by person. They also tend to become less frequent as the years go by. How often you get a flare up can depend on your lifestyle, and even the weather, as cold sore outbreaks can be triggered by specific things. For instance, you’re more likely to get a flare up when your immune system isn’t firing on all cylinders, as your body will find it harder to suppress any outbreaks of the virus. Immune system cold sore triggers can include:

  • Illness. Other viral or bacterial infections, like colds and the flu, can tax your immune system and make flare ups more likely.
  • Stress. It doesn’t just affect you emotionally, stress can weaken your immune system too. That means that stress can cause your cold sores to return.
  • Fatigue. Feeling tired and run down can also weaken your immune system. Cold sores when run down are therefore always common.

Other things outside of your immune system can also cause flare ups as well, like:

  • The weather. Cold weather can trigger flare ups, as can exposure to strong sunlight.
  • Food. There’s a lot of advice online about what foods can trigger a cold sore flare up, but there’s little to no evidence to back any of this up, so take what you read with a pinch of salt. There might not be any hard science behind it, but you may feel that certain foods make flare ups more likely for you. Feel free to avoid these foods, especially when you feel stressed, run down, or ill.
  • Individual triggers for you. Some or all of the above triggers may give you a cold sore outbreak, but you may also have other triggers that are unique to you. Knowing what these are can be difficult to work out but paying attention to what you’re doing around the time outbreaks start might give you some ideas.

How to prevent spreading cold sores

Cold sores are contagious, and you can easily pass them on to others. To stop this from happening, try the following when you have a flare up:

  • First off, try not to touch the cold sores yourself, as if you rub and scratch at them, you can get the live virus on your fingers. If you touch someone else you can transfer the virus to them, or you can even transfer the virus to other parts of your body, like your genitals (don’t touch your cold sores and then go to the toilet!)
  • Wash your hands frequently, as it can be hard not to touch your cold sores. They can feel tight on your skin, they can itch and even hurt, and sometimes you find yourself touching them before you realise you’re even doing it. If you catch yourself touching your cold sores, wash your hands right away. Wash your hands often too, as you may not notice each time you touch your face.
  • Avoid sharing objects like mugs, glasses, toothbrushes, and towels, as although the virus can’t live for long when it’s away from the body, there is a chance it can be passed on by sharing objects.
  • Avoid skin-to-skin contact. Don’t kiss anyone when you have cold sores, and definitely don’t have oral sex, as there’s a chance your cold sores can give someone genital herpes. You may have to avoid contact sports too.
  • Use cold sore treatments. You can use prescription drugs like valaciclovir and Valtrex to help clear up outbreaks faster and to reduce the amount of time when you’re at your most contagious.

How to treat cold sores?

You can minimise the number of flare ups you have by knowing what your triggers are and by managing them. But sometimes outbreaks are unavoidable. No matter what you do occasionally the cold sores will return. So how do you treat these outbreaks to clear them up as fast as possible?

There are plenty of home remedies that have been suggested for cold sores, but these often have limited scientific evidence of how well they really work. While you can take pain killers to help deal with any discomfort, if you want to get rid of your cold sores faster, you could try prescription cold sore medications like valaciclovir and Valtrex. These treatments are anti-viral drugs which help your body fight the herpes virus during a flare up. These meds can also be prescribed as a daily suppressive treatment to lessen the chances of a herpes flare up happening in the first place.

So, now you have the information, it’s time to take action.

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  • sex

Fighting the stigma of genital herpes

Finding out you have genital herpes can be difficult. Not least because it’s a disease that’s dogged by myth and misinformation, and because it carries a stigma it doesn’t deserve.

But we’re tackling it head-on. We’re going to dispel some of the more persistent genital herpes myths, and hopefully we’ll make a dent in that undeserved stigma too.

These are some of the most commonly held beliefs about genital herpes. Are they real or not?

Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted infection (STI)


Herpes viruses are usually transmitted through body contact, and genital herpes is most often caught through having sex, so it is counted as an STI. This is probably one of the reasons genital herpes has a stigma, because infections caught through sex tend to be viewed as more serious and damaging than non-sexual infections, even if that isn’t the case.

Genital herpes causes blisters to form on your genitals


One of the symptoms of genital herpes is the appearance of small blisters and sores on and around the genitals, around the anus, and across the buttocks. This is also probably the other reason genital herpes has a stigma, as the blisters can look a little unsightly. They aren’t permanent though, they usually clear up in a week or two, and then they only appear again when you have flare-ups (also called an outbreak).

Genital herpes is rare


Does the herpes virus live in everyone? No it doesn’t, but it isn’t rare either. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that over half a billion people between the ages of 15 and 49 worldwide are infected by the two types of herpes virus which cause genital herpes, making it one of the most common STIs in the world. If you have genital herpes you aren’t different or unclean or unhealthy, you’re just like hundreds of millions of other people.

Only promiscuous people get genital herpes


As you might have guessed from the above answer, this one isn’t true either. Genital herpes infections are common and widespread, and the virus is highly contagious, meaning it’s very easy to transmit. You could catch genital herpes from a single sexual experience, even if you use protection. You can even catch it from non sexual contact by simply touching someone else's infected skin and then touching yourself.

HSV-1 only causes cold sores, and HSV-2 only causes genital herpes


Genital herpes is caused by an infection of a virus from the herpes simplex family of viruses. Herpes simplex virus 2 (HSV-2) most often causes genital herpes, and herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) most often infects the face and causes cold sores. But the reverse can happen too. HSV-2 can infect the face, and HSV-1 can cause genital herpes. This means you need to avoid oral sex with someone with a cold sore, as it can result in genital herpes.

Genital herpes is only contagious during an outbreak


Is genital herpes always contagious? What do you think? Truth is, you can pass a herpes infection on even when you don’t have an outbreak. You are generally at your most contagious when you do have an outbreak, as the virus can be found living on your skin, but it can also be found in your bodily fluids, like saliva and semen when you don’t have an outbreak, or particularly just before an outbreak happens. This means you don’t necessarily know when you’re contagious, so you should assume you are at all times, and you should use protection when having sex, like condoms and oral dams.

Genital herpes can’t be transmitted if you use a condom


Genital herpes is usually transmitted by skin-to-skin contact. If you have an outbreak, the live herpes virus can be present on your skin around the outbreak, and it’s very unlikely that a condom will cover all of that skin. You shouldn’t have sex at all when you have an outbreak.

If your partner suddenly gets a flare up, they must be cheating on you


Your partner could have cheated on you and caught genital herpes from someone else, but there are other, more likely, explanations. Firstly, you or your partner may have already had a herpes infection before you got together, but you might not have known about it, as sometimes it can take some time for the first symptoms to appear. And many people who have genital herpes never or rarely have symptoms, meaning you or your partner could have genital herpes for years without even knowing about it.

Regular STI checks test for genital herpes


There isn’t a regular genital herpes test. You can only be tested for it if you have a flare up. A doctor or nurse will examine your infected skin and will take a swab from the infected blister to be sent away for testing to see if it contains a herpes simplex virus. But if you don’t have an outbreak you can’t be tested, meaning you can’t be tested regularly for the virus.

Genital herpes means the end of your sex life


Is herpes something to worry about? A herpes infection isn’t the end of anything. You can have a sexual and romantic life that’s every bit as fulfilling as the one you had before your infection, you just have to make a few changes. There are four main things you need to do to still have sex with genital herpes:

Tell your partner you have genital herpes

We know this doesn’t sound like the easiest of conversations, and you may well dread having it. We’ve got you though, with a few tips on how to tell a partner you have genital herpes.

Don’t have sex when you have an outbreak

This is when genital herpes is most contagious. You shouldn’t have any form of sexual contact. Vaginal and anal sex is a really common way to spread genital herpes. Oral sex can spread the virus to your partner’s face, while you or your partner could spread the virus on your fingers to other parts of your bodies through foreplay. This might be frustrating, but over time outbreaks tend to happen less frequently and clear-up faster, so this should be manageable.

Take medication like Valtrex and valaciclovir

Valtrex and valaciclovir are medications used to treat herpes infections. They can help clear up outbreaks faster and minimise the symptoms. Sometimes they can even be taken to reduce the number of outbreaks you have. Research has shown these medications significantly reduce the risk of passing the virus on to a partner.

Use protection between outbreaks

When you don’t have an outbreak, which is most of the time, you can still pass the herpes virus on, as it can be found in your body fluids, like in your saliva or your semen. Because of this, you should use protection, like condoms and dental dams, when you don’t have an outbreak to further minimise your chances of infecting your partner.

You and your partner need to recognise that these measures aren’t perfect. Even if you avoid all sexual contact during outbreaks, use protection between them, and take medication, there’s still a chance you could pass the infection on to your partner. These measures minimise the chances, but there’s still a risk. This is something you need to make clear to your partner.

Genital herpes can’t be treated


Has anyone been cured of genital herpes? The truth is that genital herpes can’t be cured for good. Once you’ve been infected by a herpes simplex virus it’s with you for life, as the virus takes up residence in your nerve cells and stays there for good. But genital herpes can be treated. Medications like Valtrex and valaciclovir can reduce the severity of outbreaks, and even stop them from happening.

If you have genital herpes, your sex life isn’t over. Although it does still carry a stigma, you can fight it by arming yourself with the facts. With the right attitude, and by making some changes, you can have the sex and love life you want.

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  • sex

Can you become dependent on Viagra?

Viagra is a wonder drug for many men. It works so well it’s become one of the fastest selling prescription drugs ever. But if you take it too much, can you become dependent on Viagra?

Well, there’s good news and bad news. The good is that if you use prescription erectile dysfunction meds like Viagra in the way they’re supposed to be used, there’s no evidence you can become dependent on them. The bad is that if you don’t use them properly, particularly if you use them recreationally, there is a chance you can form a dependency.

Let’s start with some key questions.

What does Viagra do to a man?

Viagra, and other ED drugs like tadalafil (also sold under the brand name Cialis), relax muscle tissue and vessels in the penis, making it easier to fill with blood and increasing the chances you’ll get an erection. Viagra doesn’t make you automatically hard. You need to be aroused, then it helps turn this arousal into a lasting erection. Viagra doesn’t boost your sex drive either, or give you bigger erections, or otherwise improve your performance in bed if you don’t have ED, except for possibly reducing the time it takes you to get erect again after orgasm.

Does Viagra make you last longer?

Usually not. There are lots of myths about Viagra, including how it can make you last for hours, but no matter what you’ve heard in the pub or the locker room, Viagra, and other ED meds don’t usually do this. A rare side effect of these medications is a condition called priapism, which is a long-lasting erection that won’t subside. Whilst that might sound great, it’s actually a serious medical problem that can cause permanent damage to your penis.

Can you take Viagra every day?

You can, but only if a doctor is happy for you to do so. You should only take Viagra if you plan to have sex, usually 60 to 30 mins beforehand. If you want to have sex every day, then you should talk to your doctor to see if they think Viagra is suitable for you. It might well be, but they could also decide that tadalafil is a better option as the effects can last from 24 to 36 hours, so can be taken less frequently than Viagra.

Can Viagra cause erectile dysfunction?

If used properly, no. But if you take Viagra or other ED drugs recreationally, without the supervision of a doctor, for reasons other than ED, there is a risk that you could become psychologically dependent on them. You might come to believe you can’t perform without the help of the medication, and this belief may become a self-fulling prophecy, resulting in problems like not being able to get an erection because you’re too anxious. Whilst this won’t happen to all recreational users, you should only use ED meds to treat ED, and as directed by a prescribing doctor or by a pharmacist.

Now let’s look at the question of dependency.

Can you become physically dependent on Viagra?

Physical dependency happens when you take something for so long that your body adapts to it and starts to rely on it. This usually occurs because the substance replaces something your body does naturally, so it needs the substance to function properly. If you’re physically dependent on something and you stop taking it, you can get unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.

Happily, none of the ingredients of Viagra (sildenafil), or other erectile dysfunction drugs like Levitra (vardenafil), or Cialis (tadalafil) are thought to cause physical dependencies.

They work by increasing the flow of blood to the penis. What they don’t do is affect the pleasure centres in your brain, or replace processes in your body, the way that substances which cause physical dependencies do.

Can you become psychologically dependent on Viagra?

Dependency is a complex demon. The physical side is just part of it, as there’s a mental side of dependency too. Psychological dependence happens when you become mentally and emotionally dependent on something, rather than physically. Think of it as your mind being dependent on the drug, not your body. Rather than your body relying on it, you believe you need it.

There’s no evidence that men can become psychologically dependent on drugs like Viagra as long as they use them to treat ED. If you genuinely have problems getting and staying hard, and use ED meds to help with this, you’re using the drugs as intended. All good.

But there is concern that men could become psychologically dependent on drugs like Viagra if they don’t have ED, but take the drugs anyway, often without a prescription. This is called recreational Viagra use.

So why would a man who doesn’t have ED, use ED meds?

Usually because they believe drugs like Viagra improve their performance in bed by boosting their sex drive, giving them firmer and bigger erections, or making them last longer. Or perhaps they have occasional performance anxiety and want to pop a pill just to take the stress out of the situation.

The kicker is that drugs like Viagra don’t actually do this. They don’t improve your sexual performance if you don’t have ED, other than there being some evidence they can reduce the time it takes to get an erection again after orgasm. But they could have a placebo effect. The man taking it might believe the drug does these things as he feels more relaxed and confident and therefore performs better in bed.

And this is where the real problem lies. If you start to believe that ED meds make you better in bed, you may start to think that you can’t do without them. In this way, you could become psychologically dependent.

How to avoid becoming dependent on Viagra?

The simple answer is, you can avoid becoming psychologically dependent on ED medications like Viagra, by making sure you use them properly. Only use them if you have ED, and only use them as directed by the doctor who prescribes them to you.

If you take ED medications but don’t have ED, you need to think carefully about why. If you think you have emotional worries about sex, like performance anxiety, then there are better ways to address them, rather than using ED drugs as a crutch. Get to the heart of your problem, don’t mask it with medications.

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  • sex

Sildenafil vs Viagra: What's the difference?

Viagra is the best-known erectile dysfunction (ED) medication on the market. It’s probably one of the best-known medications of all time. Everyone knows what it is and what it does.

But it’s not alone. You may have heard of an ED med called sildenafil mentioned alongside Viagra.

So, what’s the deal? Are they the same medication?

Sildenafil is a copy of Viagra. It’s basically the exact same product. Technically, sildenafil is a generic version of Viagra. We’ll explain…

Medications can have two names. A scientific one, and a brand name. The scientific name is the name of the active ingredient in the medication, which is the substance that gives the medication its effect. The brand name is the name the company that makes the medication chooses to give it.

With Viagra, its scientific name is sildenafil citrate. Viagra is the brand name given to the medication by Pfizer, the pharmaceutical company that developed and first sold it. You’ve got to admit, Viagra does sound better, and is more memorable, than sildenafil citrate.

So if sildenafil citrate is the scientific name for Viagra, why can you buy a pill called sildenafil? This is because sildenafil is a non-branded version of Viagra. It's the same active ingredient as Viagra and is essentially the same product, but it doesn’t have a brand name, so it’s just called sildenafil.

In the simplest terms, sildenafil is a generic copy of Viagra, sometimes called ‘generic Viagra’.

What is a generic medication?

A generic medication is a legal copy of a branded medication. They have the same active ingredient as the branded version. Both meds have the same effect and the same side effects and come in identical strengths and doses (25 mg, 50 mg, and 100 mg in the case of Viagra and sildenafil). And you guessed it, you take them in the same way too.

Basically sildenafil is effectively identical to Viagra. Except it usually costs a lot less.

Why is sildenafil so much cheaper than Viagra?

The reason for this is because the companies that make sildenafil simply copied a drug that already exists. Whilst Pfizer (the company that developed Viagra) had to invest a huge amount of time and money to first bring it to the market.

Medications can take many years and cost billions to develop. Pharmaceutical companies have to invest in research, in clinical trials, and in marketing and advertising. This pushes the price of their product up, as they have to recoup this investment. But companies that make the generic versions don’t have these costs, so they can afford to charge a lower price.

Also, some people are simply willing to pay a higher price for branded products than generic ones.

How are generic medications legal?

It doesn’t sound legal, does it? Pfizer spends all that time and money to make Viagra, then other companies can make copies of it and sell them at a lower price.

But it is completely legal, although the process is not quite as simple as that.

When a pharmaceutical company first makes a new drug, they can apply for a patent in the countries they sell it in. This patent is like a license to sell the drug for a number of years, and only the original manufacturer has it. This means the pharmaceutical company has a certain amount of time in which they’re the only company that can sell the medication.

Pfizer had a patent to sell Viagra in the UK from 1998 to June 2013. They had 15 years of exclusivity to make as much money as they could from Viagra. After the patent has expired, other companies are then allowed to sell generic versions of the medication, to increase competition. This gives consumers more options, particularly cheaper options.

Viagra vs sildenafil – how are they the same?

As sildenafil is generic Viagra, the same medication but without a brand name, the two are identical in most ways. They have the same:

  • Active ingredient (sildenafil citrate)
  • Effect on your body
  • Efficacy (they work at the same speed and last the same amount of time)
  • Side effects
  • Strength (a 50 mg Viagra pill has the same amount of active ingredient as a 50 mg sildenafil pill)
  • Dosages (25 mg, 50 mg, 100 mg)
  • Pack sizes (same number of pills)

Are there any differences between Viagra and sildenafil?

Although they’re identical in most ways there are a few differences between Viagra and sildenafil, like:

  • Price – sildenafil is considerably cheaper than Viagra
  • Inactive ingredients – the film that coats the tablets has some different ingredients, although these are to do with the colour of the tablets, rather than how the tablets work
  • The colour of the pills
  • The branding on the pills and packaging

Is sildenafil as good as Viagra?

Some people prefer generic medications, as they have the same effect, but for a lower price. Others prefer branded medications, as they think they work better than generic medications. This is actually down to the placebo effect though, not a genuine difference between the drugs.

If you have ED and you’re interested in trying an ED medication, you can order them directly FROM MARS. You can order:

  • Sildenafil (Viagra)
  • Vardenafil (Levitra)
  • Tadalafil (Cialis)

Simply begin with our online consultation and enter your medical history and symptoms. If approved, you’ll receive a treatment plan from our doctors within two hours. Your medication will be shipped for free to your door the next day.

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  • sex

Causes of erectile dysfunction

For many men, erectile dysfunction is a very real thing. Problems getting or maintaining an erection can happen to anyone.

So, if it’s happened to you, it doesn’t have to be a big deal. Loads of guys go through it. But if the problem persists, it can interfere with your sex life and your mental health, plus it could also be a symptom of something much more serious.

That means it’s not something you should ignore.

Here we’ll help you understand what might be causing it and what you can do to overcome it.

ED symptoms

First it's important to know the symptoms of erectile dysfunction. They might include:

  • Trouble getting an erection
  • Trouble maintaining an erection during sexual activity
  • Reduced sexual desire

If you experience any of these symptoms regularly, it's likely that you have erectile dysfunction.

What causes erectile dysfunction?

To get and stay hard, you need a good circulatory system, a healthy brain and nerves, the right hormones at the right levels, a good mindset, and a decent lifestyle.

If you have issues with any of these, you can have problems with your erections. There are lots of possible causes of erectile dysfunction, both physical and psychological.

Physical causes of erectile dysfunction

You get an erection when more blood flows into your penis than leaves it, making it swell and fill with blood. Anything that interferes with the flow of blood inside your body can cause ED and is the main cause of erectile dysfunction in men over 40. This includes:

  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Heart problems

Being treated for prostate cancer can also cause erectile dysfunction, particularly if the blood vessels or nerves leading to the penis are damaged.

Erectile dysfunction can also be caused by neurological conditions, essentially physical issues with your brain and the nerves which carry signals around your body. You may want to get hard, but the signals from your brain might not be getting to the right place. Neurological conditions can include:

  • Damage to your spine
  • Brain damage, including strokes
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s disease

Getting aroused and sustaining an erection also requires the right levels of certain hormones, such as testosterone. Anything that interferes with your body’s ability to produce hormones can mess with your erections. These include:

  • Hypogonadism (a condition which causes your testes to produce lower levels of sex hormones like testosterone)
  • An overactive or underactive thyroid gland
  • Cushing’s disease (affects your adrenal glands)
  • Declining levels of testosterone as you age (particularly for men over 45)

Also, physical problems with your penis can affect your erections, such as:

  • Peyronie’s disease (the growth of hard tissue inside the penis which can change its shape and interfere with erections)
  • Having a foreskin that is too tight

Psychological causes of erectile dysfunction

Your mindset can have a big impact on your erections. For men under 40, the leading cause of erectile dysfunction is psychological; so take note. This can include:

  • Performance anxiety and doubting your sexual ability is one of the most common causes of ED. You need to be relaxed to get hard, and any worries you have about your ability to satisfy your partner can interfere with your erections.
  • Mental health problems which affect your mood, such as depression are related to erectile dysfunction.
  • Too much stress in areas of your life outside the bedroom, such as work demands and money worries, can distract you and lower your sex drive.
  • Problems in your relationship, outside of sex, can also affect your erections.

Lifestyle causes of erectile dysfunction

How you live your life can also play its part.

Poor diet and not enough exercise can lead to you being overweight and having high blood pressure, which can affect the flow of blood to your penis. Smoking can have the same effect. Quitting smoking and opting for healthy, nutritious foods can get you on the right track for ED recovery. 

Recreational activities can also cause ED. Drinking too much alcohol can have a temporary impact while viewing porn has also been associated with erectile dysfunction.

Drugs, both legal and illegal, can interfere with your circulatory and nervous systems, as well as your hormones, which can have a knock-on effect when it comes to ED. The following drugs have all been associated with erectile dysfunction, but this list isn’t exhaustive. Remember to check the side effects of any medication you’re taking and speak to your doctor if you think it might be causing you problems.

Medications and prescription drugs:

  • Antiandrogens
  • Anticonvulsants
  • Antidepressants
  • Antihistamines
  • Antihypertensives
  • Antipsychotics
  • Beta-blockers
  • Corticosteroids
  • Diuretics
  • Fibrates

Recreational drugs:

  • Marijuana
  • Cocaine
  • Heroin and methadone
  • Steroids

What are the top risk factors for erectile dysfunction?

We've looked at some of the main physical, psychological and lifestyle causes of ED, but what are the top risk factors that can cause erectile dysfunction in men of all ages?

  • Smoking
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Living a sedentary lifestyle
  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • Using illegal drugs
  • Medication side effects
  • Diabetes
  • High cholesterol
  • Stress/anxiety

How can I improve my erectile dysfunction?

First of all, don’t stress. Erectile dysfunction is a common problem and is curable. It’s something that you can handle and beat, often with simple lifestyle changes including:

  • Cutting down on unhealthy food, alcohol, cigarettes, and avoid recreational drugs
  • Making sure you exercise and get enough sleep

Erectile dysfunction treatments such as sildenafil (Viagra), tadalafil (Cialis) and vardenafil (Levitra) are very effective at treating the condition in the short term. However, there are many possible causes of ED; some of them are more serious than others. If you are experiencing erectile dysfunction regularly make sure you speak to your doctor. They will check for underlying medical conditions that could be the source of the problem. They can also advise on whether any medication you’re taking could be an issue too.

If you’re given the all-clear and the problem’s still there, try speaking to a psychologist or a therapist to explore your mental state to see if the cause of your erectile dysfunction is psychological.

Even if you have a physical condition, it can still help to talk to a mental health professional, as there may be multiple causes, both physical and mental. If you think about it too much, ED can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

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An overview of erectile dysfunction tablets

Erectile dysfunction is common, so it’s comforting to know the tablets used to treat it work for over 80% of men. But Viagra, which contains the active ingredient sildenafil, is just one treatment available to men living with ED. There are other types of erectile dysfunction tablets that fall under the category of PDE5 inhibitors. And while that abbreviation may sound complicated, we promise this guide won’t be. If you’re new to erectile dysfunction medication or just want advice, this blog post will give you a full breakdown of the merits and purposes of each.

What are PDE5 inhibitors?

PDE5 inhibitors allow blood to flow freely through your vessels and into your penis, which causes an erection. Erectile dysfunction occurs because not enough blood gets pumped into the penis, or the blood that does get pumped in leaves too quickly — often when it matters most. PDE5 inhibitors prevent this from happening.

Viagra is one of the most common PDE5 inhibitors available. Sold as a diamond-shaped blue pill, it has been prescribed to over 25 million men. But while most men have heard of Viagra, it isn’t the only type of erectile dysfunction medication that exists. For men whose bodies do not respond as well to the active ingredient sildenafil, there are prescription-only drugs like Cialis (active ingredient tadalafil) or Levitra (active ingredient vardenafil). 


Some men like tadalafil because the effects last longer than other erectile dysfunction pills (often up to 36 hours). By this, we mean you should still be able to get an erection the next time you have sex. Being erect for 36 hours straight is dangerous — even an erection that lasts over four hours requires urgent medical attention.

How does tadalafil work?

Tadalafil helps boost blood flow to the penis, which in turn helps you to get hard. Sexual stimulation causes a chemical called CGMP to be released into the penis, which carries blood to the area and causes an erection. A while later, PDE5 is released, which destroys the CGMP and causes blood vessels to return to their normal size. Tadalafil stops PDE5 from doing its job properly, which helps your erection last longer.

Remember though, it will only work if you’re already sexually stimulated.

When should you take tadalafil?

You should take it two hours before you have sex.

What does tadalafil look like?

It’s yellow and egg-shaped.


Vardenafil is the active ingredient in Levitra, a prescription only ED medication that lasts for up to 4 hours.

How does vardenafil work?

It works by relaxing the arteries in the penis, to enhance the blood flow and help you get hard.

When should you take vardenafil?

Vardenafil can be taken 20 to 60 minutes before sex.

What does Levitra (vardenafil) look like?

Levitra is round and yellow.

Risks – Should I take ED drugs?

While erectile dysfunction medicine is low risk when taken correctly, there are side effects to be aware of. Some men may experience back pain or nausea; others may be more susceptible to body aches or an upset stomach. If you have an existing illness, you must disclose this information to our doctors and they will determine the correct medication for you.

Many of the medicines used to treat chest pains and high blood pressure are similar to those used to treat ED. By doubling your dose, you could see your blood pressure fall to dangerous levels. The impact of this can be nausea, dizziness or fainting. Never take ED medication with nitrates, beta-blockers or blood-thinning medicines unless advised.

Common questions about erectile dysfunction tablets

1. What is the safest drug for erectile dysfunction?

There’s no standout drug for ED because all are safe when taken correctly. Speak to our doctors for advice on dosage and what strength to take, as these will differ per medication. Remember to avoid nitrates and other blood-thinners.

2. Can erectile dysfunction be cured completely?

Erectile dysfunction can be cured by finding the underlying problem causing your ED, but that’s not always the case. A person with type 2 diabetes may never be cured of their ED, but someone experiencing trauma or psychological illness may overcome ED. Sildenafil, or any of the ED tablets mentioned above, are mainly used to treat symptoms.

3. Which works better tadalafil or sildenafil?

The main benefit of tadalafil is that it can last up to 36 hours. In comparison, sildenafil can last up to four hours depending on the strength or dosage. Our doctors will asses your medical history to determine which medication will be best for you.

Can I purchase erectile dysfunction tablets FROM MARS?

Yes, you can. Start an online consultation today and our doctors will determine if it is medically appropriate for you to take ED medication. If approved, your prescription plan will be sent to you within two hours. All of our ED meds are packed in discreet packaging.

Remember, you’re not alone in what you’re going through. Men can experience ED at any age, and over 4.5 million UK men do. However, most men go on to successfully manage their situation, and lead happy sex lives. So, while you may think an erection is out of reach, you’ll be surprised how far medicine has come over the years.

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Sex tips for controlling premature ejaculation

Overcoming premature ejaculation can feel impossible. You want to enjoy sex, you want your partner to enjoy it, and you don’t want the pressure of worrying you’re going to come too early.

And then it happens. And it’s all over before it really got going.

Relax. It happens to loads of guys. And it’s not even a big deal. We know it feels like one at the time, but there are plenty of things you can do to prevent PE. Some even when you’re between the sheets with your partner.

Your PE Questions Answered

What are the causes of premature ejaculation?

There are a lot of causes of premature ejaculation. What makes one man ejaculate too quickly can be totally different from another. It can be caused by psychological and emotional issues, like stress and anxiety. Learned behaviours can also have an impact, including masturbating too quickly and training yourself to come fast. And then there are medical conditions too, like high blood pressure, thyroid problems, and diabetes.

Is premature ejaculation curable?

There’s no perfect cure, but you can learn how to control premature ejaculation. Remember, every man is different and there are so many different causes, many that are personal. That means that what works for one man won’t necessarily work for another. But there are plenty of things you can do to help control your PE, ranging from sex tips when you’re in the sack, things you can do on your own, and PE meds that you can take that can help you last longer.

How can I prevent premature ejaculation?

If you have premature ejaculation, there are plenty of things you can do and try to help you last longer. You can try behavioural changes, counselling, and PE meds such as Priligy. Most of these work for lots of men, but you might have to experiment to see which ones help you the most.

Which is the best medicine for premature ejaculation?

Priligy is a medically proven treatment for premature ejaculation. It’s taken as a tablet before you have sex, and it helps delay and give more control over ejaculation.

Sex Tips for Premature Ejaculation

The following sex tips can help you control premature ejaculation. Not all of them will work for everyone, so you may need to experiment to find which are the most helpful for you:

Tip 1: Masturbate before you have sex

You can try masturbating a few hours before you have sex, as many men last longer after they’ve recently ejaculated. It’s a simple tip and it’s effective for lots of men.

Tip 2: Masturbate for longer

You can also try increasing the time it takes you to come when you masturbate. When you feel close to ejaculating, you can slow down or stop, and wait until the sensations decrease, before starting again. Keep this up, and you may be able to train yourself to last longer when you masturbate, which could help you last longer during sex too.

Tip 3: Try wearing a condom

Many men say condoms reduce their sensitivity, and this drop in sensation could help you last longer. It may help even more if you buy condoms for premature ejaculation which are coated in a substance that can numb you (a bit, not totally!). You could try masturbating with one to see if they’re right for you.

Tip 4: Try the stop-start method, or the squeeze technique

These may take a bit of practice, but they’re proven ways of controlling premature ejaculation that have been recommended by sex therapists for decades.

With the stop-start method, when you feel close to ejaculating, you stop and hold still, and you wait for the sensations to die back down before you carry on again (like Tip 2, but during sex rather than when you’re masturbating). You can try this over and over to make yourself last longer.

The squeeze technique is like the stop-start method, but when you stop you add an extra step where you or your partner squeezes the head of your penis, as some men find this helps to bring them back from the ‘point of no return’.

These techniques may not be suitable for everyone, as some partners say that the repeated stopping and starting can be frustrating. You’ll have to experiment to see if it works for you and for your partner.

Tip 5: Try different positions

You may find you ejaculate faster in some positions, and last longer in others. Typically, men come faster in the missionary and doggy-style positions, but you may be able to keep going for longer with your partner on top.

Tip 6: Concentrate on foreplay

Penetration is just one part of sex. There’s a hell of a lot more you can do together in bed, and although penetration can be great fun for both of you, many women don’t orgasm from penetration, or penetration alone. You can focus more on foreplay, or oral sex, as well as using sex toys to take the emphasis away from penetration. Ask your partner what they’d like some more of and get down to it.

This can be a great way to take the pressure off PE and to make sure sex stays fun and fulfilling. And if you can give your partner an orgasm or two before you get down to business, you may find you last longer anyway, as you feel more confident and relaxed.

Getting control of your PE when you’re with your partner is one thing, but it can also be a sign that something more serious is up with your health, especially if you develop it after not having it previously. Even if these tips help, you should still see your doctor to have your health checked.

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The dangers of fake Viagra

Thinking about trying Viagra, but don’t want all the fuss of seeing a doctor first? Maybe you’ve searched online and found out you can order Viagra cheaply and without a prescription? Perfect, right?

Unfortunately not. Some things are too good to be true. These sites are most likely selling fake Viagra, something which can be really dangerous. Here we’ll explain why.

What is fake Viagra?

Genuine Viagra is a drug used to treat erectile dysfunction (ED) made by the company Pfizer. Fake Viagra might look like real Viagra pills, and will be claimed to be made by Pfizer. Don’t believe it. Fake Viagra can be made by enterprising individuals, criminal gangs, and foreign companies who don’t have the right to sell drugs in the UK.

It might look like the real deal, but it’s what’s inside that counts, and here they can be very different from the genuine product. The active drug in Viagra is called sildenafil, and studies of fake Viagra found the amount of this in them varied widely. Some pills contained none at all, others contained over 200% the claimed dose, and only 10% of the pills examined were within 10% of the dose claimed on the packaging. To make matters worse, the fake drugs can be mixed with other substances too, with one study finding paint, printer ink, talcum powder, amphetamines, and a strong fungal medication in fake Viagra pills.

Counterfeit Viagra might sound like a small issue, something that a couple of dodgy websites are selling online, but fake Viagra is big business. Viagra is the fastest-selling medication in history, and illegal drug dealers are keen to get in on the action. The MHRA recently published new figures showing that 3.5 million unlicensed ED pills were seized in the UK in 2019 and were estimated to be worth more than £10 million. 

What is Kamagra?

Kamagra is an ED drug like Viagra which is made in India but often sold in the UK online. Unlike Viagra, and other ED drugs like Levitra and Cialis, Kamagra is not licensed for sale in the UK. It hasn’t gone through the same safety tests as Viagra which means buying it online in the UK is illegal. Kamagra can often be counterfeit too, and if a website is willing to sell you Kamagra illegally in the UK, then there’s a good chance they’re willing to sell you a fake version of the drug too. So that’s two good reasons to steer clear of Kamagra if you live in the UK.

Why do people buy fake Viagra?

Some people buy fake Viagra because they genuinely have erectile dysfunction, and they feel embarrassed seeing a doctor about it, and/or they appreciate the ease and low price of buying fake Viagra online.

But fake Viagra is also bought by recreational users. That’s people who don’t have erectile dysfunction, or rarely have it, who want to take the occasional pill to offset the effects of too much alcohol, drugs, or to deal with performance anxiety. Some recreational users who never have ED take fake Viagra because they think it’ll boost their sex drive, make them last longer, or even because they believe Viagra will make their penis bigger. However these are all myths.

If you don’t have erectile dysfunction, then you shouldn’t take Viagra, and you definitely shouldn’t take fake Viagra. If you do have ED and you feel too embarrassed to talk to a doctor face-to-face about it, then don’t resort to buying counterfeit Viagra online. You have options. FROM MARS is a registered UK pharmacy and our doctors can prescribe you medically proven erectile dysfunction treatments including genuine sildenafil and Viagra. Simply fill out our online form, and our doctors will determine if a treatment is suitable for you. There's no need to book an appointment, and no awkward meetings with your doctor.

What can fake Viagra do to you?

If you take fake Viagra, you’re gambling with your health. Counterfeit drugs can cause serious harm and can even kill you. Here’s why:

Firstly, Viagra is a prescription drug. This means it can only be bought after you’ve had a consultation with a health professional who can make prescriptions. Viagra can have side effects, it can interact with other medications, and it isn’t for everyone. For instance, Viagra shouldn’t be used by men who have inherited eye diseases or who are taking nitrate medications. A health professional needs to assess your health and your circumstances to make sure Viagra is the right drug for you. If you skip this step and buy Viagra without a prescription you’re missing out on their expertise, and you could be putting yourself at risk without even realising it.

Secondly, you can’t be sure how much of the active drug you’re buying. As we already mentioned, in one study only 10% of counterfeit Viagra pills were within 10% of the dose claimed on the pack. You might be buying pills with little or no sildenafil in them, or worse, you could be buying pills with too much, meaning you’re more likely to experience the more serious side effects of Viagra.

And finally, as we’ve also mentioned, you don’t know what else is in the fake pills. You could be swallowing anything from paint, to other prescription medications, and even illegal drugs like amphetamines. If you take fake Viagra, you really have no idea what you’re putting into your body and could experience very serious fake Viagra side effects.

How to spot fake Viagra pills?

What does fake Viagra look like? Sometimes counterfeit Viagra pills look different enough from real Viagra for you to see the difference. The shade of blue might be wrong, or the Pfizer logo might not be on the pills. But sometimes the fake pills look so close to the real deal you can’t see the difference. So how do you tell?

The simple answer is, without testing them in a lab, you can’t. The only way you can guarantee you have real Viagra is by only buying it from licensed, legal retailers. That means not from drug dealers, from friends, or from websites that don’t have the ability to issue prescriptions.

Buying genuine Viagra safely

You’ve got a few options if you want to buy genuine Viagra legally:

Can you buy Viagra over the counter?

You can now buy a version of Viagra, called Viagra Connect, from pharmacies in the UK without a prescription. You’ll have to answer a short questionnaire in the pharmacy, but if your answers are approved, you can buy the drug there and then.

Being assessed by a health professional

Although you can buy Viagra Connect over the counter, if you opt for a prescription, you get the benefit of being assessed by an experienced health professional, as well more options on the dosage. They may even suggest an alternative drug.

Viagra Connect only comes in one strength (50mg), whereas regular Viagra can be bought in three doses, 25mg, 50mg, and 100mg, which gives you more options. Also, Viagra is only one of a number of ED meds. Other options include Cialis and Levitra. Our doctors may decide one of these is more suitable for you.


The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is helping you protect your health and money by providing quick and easy tools so you can avoid fake medical products when you shop online. Visit the #FakeMeds website for information on registered pharmacies and tips on how to spot fake medicines.

Ordering Viagra safely online FROM MARS

You can order Viagra, and other ED meds like Levitra and Cialis, online safely and legally from us at FROM MARS, as we are a registered UK pharmacy and can prescribe these medications for you, without the need for any embarrassing face to face doctor's appointments. 

Buying Viagra and other ED meds cheaply online or from local dealers can be convenient, but is it really worth it? Chances are the pills will be fake, and at best they’ll do nothing, but at worst they could be dangerous. If you do want to try ED meds, make sure you buy the genuine product.

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How to use a cock ring to improve your erections

Ok, let’s talk about cock rings. One of the best kept secrets of the sex toy world. What else can give you rock hard erections, make you last longer, make you orgasm harder, and make your cock vibrate on command?

Sound good? Here we’ve got the lowdown on cock rings. We’ll tell you how they can help with premature ejaculation, with erectile dysfunction, and how much fun they can be.

What is a cock ring and what do cock rings do?

Cock rings, also called penis rings, shaft rings, and C rings, are bands that you put around the base of your penis, or sometimes across both your penis and your testicles. They’re usually made of something firm but stretchy, like silicon or plastic, but they can also be made of other materials, like leather or even metal.

Cock rings are used to trap blood in the penis to help you get and keep an erection.

You get hard when more blood flows into your penis than flows out of it, as this increase in blood makes it swell and become firm, like blowing air into a balloon to inflate it. Cock rings squeeze the base of your penis just enough to let blood flow into it, but they restrict the flow of blood out, keeping you hard.

And if the cock ring fits properly, you’ll stay hard until you decide to take it off.

So why would you want to wear a cock ring?

The simple answer is because cock rings take the uncertainty out of keeping an erection. But having control over your cock is just the start of it. Mastery of your erections can have a whole host of benefits:

Cock rings and erectile dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction (ED), is when a man has difficulties getting or keeping an erection that’s hard enough for sex. Unsurprisingly, cock rings can be a big help with ED.

If you can get an erection, but have problems maintaining it, wearing a cock ring will make sure you stay hard. If you have problems getting erect, then you can use a penis pump to draw blood into your penis, and then use a cock ring to keep it there.

Cock rings can work for ED caused by both physical problems, and also psychological ones, like performance anxiety, as it can take the stress out of erections, letting you relax and enjoy yourself.

You can also use cock rings alongside ED meds, like Viagra (sildenafil), Cialis (tadalafil), and Levitra (vardenafil). After taking ED meds to get an erection, simply use a cock ring to maintain it. If you’d like to use a cock ring with ED medication, talk to our doctors, just to make sure they think the combination is right for you.

Cock rings and premature ejaculation

Lots of men report that wearing a cock ring helps them with premature ejaculation (PE) too.

This may be because one of the tried and tested ways to fight premature ejaculation is the squeeze technique, where regularly squeezing your penis can slow your orgasm. The squeezing of a cock ring may have the same effect here, helping you last longer and giving you more control over your ejaculation.

Cock rings can also be used alongside premature ejaculation medications like Priligy, which also help delay orgasm, to maximise your chances of staying harder for longer.

Cock rings and stronger orgasms

As if you needed any more incentives, many men who use cock rings also say it makes their erections feel fuller, their penises more sensitive, and their orgasms stronger. Not bad for a small ring of rubber, hey?

Cock rings are more fun for your partner

Cock rings come in a huge range of colours and materials, and they can also come with added features too. There are ones that vibrate, and some with clitoral stimulators. There are even cock rings with added dildos, vibrators, and anal beads for all sorts of additional thrills for you and your partner.

Most women can’t come from penetration alone. But if your cock vibrates, and you’ve got a clitoral stimulator on there too, then the woman you’re with may not know what’s hit her.

A cock ring can help you turn a potential issue, like ED or PE, into mind-blowing sex.

No one actually uses cock rings, right?

Interested in trying a cock ring? We don’t blame you. But maybe you think cock rings aren’t for people like you? Maybe because cock rings never seemed to be talked about in popular culture you think they’re pretty niche. Well, as many as one in five men use cock rings. That means all types of guys are using them. You probably have friends and colleagues that do.

The takeaway

If any of this raises your interest, then go for it. Sex should be fun. It shouldn’t be stressful or frustrating, and cock rings can help with that. They can take the anxiety out of staying hard, so you and your partner can relax and focus on having fun.

Just a quick word of caution. If you do have ED or PE, then you need to talk to your doctor as well as trying home solutions like cock rings. Sometimes these conditions are caused by what’s going on in our heads, but sometimes they’re caused by serious medical conditions, like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, hormone imbalances, and diabetes. You need to get yourself checked out to make sure you stay healthy.

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The possible side effects of erectile dysfunction medication

Sildenafil, tadalafil, and vardenafil are all effective medications for erectile dysfunction (ED). Like all medications though, they can have side effects.

Here we’ll explain the most common side effects of ED meds. We’ll also advise on when you should talk to your doctor.

What is a side effect?

Medications usually have a specific purpose. The main purpose of ED meds is to improve blood flow to the penis to help it get erect.

Medications can have other effects outside of their purpose though, and these effects are usually undesirable. These are called side effects. They’re usually minor, just an inconvenience, but sometimes they can be more serious.

Not everyone will experience the same side effects, and some people won’t experience any at all. It all depends on their genetics, gender, ethnicity, age, weight, health, what medical conditions they have, and what other medications they’re taking.

Side effects of erectile dysfunction medications

Clinical trials have found that ED meds  can cause some side effects. Whether you’re taking sildenafil, tadalafil, or vardenafil side effects may occur. If you’d like to know more or are worried about the side effects of any ED treatments, speak to our doctors.

Common side effects

The following are common side effects for sildenafil (Viagra), tadalafil (Cialis) and vardenafil (Levitra). These may affect up to 1 in 10 people, and include:

  • Headache
  • Feeling sick (nausea)
  • Dizziness
  • Indigestion
  • Facial flushing
  • Effects on the eyes, including blurred vision, colour tinges to vision, and other visual disturbances
  • Blocked nose

Less common side effects

There are some less common side effects of sildenafil, tadalafil and vardenafil. These may affect up to 1 in 100 people, and include:

  • Vomiting
  • Stomach ache
  • Acid reflux/heartburn
  • Effects on the eyes, including irritation, bloodshot and red eyes, eye pain, seeing flashes of light, increases in brightness, light sensitivity, and watery eyes
  • Pounding heartbeat and rapid heartbeat
  • High or low blood pressure
  • Muscle pain
  • Reduced sense of touch
  • Vertigo
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Presence of blood in urine
  • Pain in the arms or legs
  • Nosebleeds
  • Feeling tired and sleepy

Rare side effects

There are some rarer side effects of sildenafil, tadalafil and vardenafil. These may affect up to 1 in 1,000 people, and include:

  • Fainting
  • Seizures
  • Stroke
  • Heart attack
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Passing memory loss
  • Effects on the eyes, including double vision, abnormal sensations in the eye, bleeding at the back of the eye, reduced sharpness of vision, swelling of the eye or eyelid, small particles or spots in your vision, seeing halos around lights, inflammation of the eyes
  • Penile bleeding and presence of blood in semen
  • Sudden decrease or loss of hearing

Allergic reactions to erectile dysfunction


Some people are allergic to medications, and their body goes into an immune response which can be dangerous and even life threatening. If you experience any of the symptoms below after taking ED meds, particularly if they happen quickly after taking the medication, then you’re probably having an allergic reaction:

  • Swelling of the face, lips, and throat, making it difficult to breathe
  • Flushing, itchy skin, and/or a rash
  • A rapid fall in blood pressure leading to collapse

If this happens, stop taking the medication immediately and seek medical attention as quickly as possible.

Erectile dysfunction medications and priapism

ED medication can occasionally cause a condition called priapism, which may affect up to 1 in 1,000 men. Priapism is when the penis stays erect for a long time, often over 4 hours, but it can sometimes be much longer. It might sound fun, and like the ED medication is really working, but it can get painful, and it can cause tissue damage that can make it hard to get erect in the future. If you think you have priapism, don’t take any more ED medication, and seek medical care as quickly as possible.

Erectile dysfunction medications and chest pain

Sometimes ED medications can cause heart complications. This is rare, but can be more likely, and more serious, in men who already have heart problems, and who are already taking certain heart medications. If you experience chest pain after taking an ED med, seek medical care as fast as possible. If you have a heart condition, and are taking heart medication, make sure your doctor or prescribing health professional knows this before they prescribe ED medication for you.

Long term side effects of erectile dysfunction medications

Research has shown that some men can become tolerant to ED medications, and may need to increase their dose over time to get the same effect. This should be discussed with our doctors who will determine if it is medically appropriate to change your dose. Never change your dosage yourself. 

Erectile dysfunction medications and drug interactions

ED meds can interact with other drugs, particularly drugs used to treat chest pain and heart conditions, especially nitrates. Tell our doctors about any medications you take, and about any illegal drugs you plan to take, when you’re asking for an ED prescription.

When to talk to your doctor

Sildenafil, tadalafil and vardenafil are prescription medications, meaning they should only be taken after you’ve got a prescription for them. FROM MARS is a licensed UK pharmacy and our doctors may prescribe ED medication to you following an online consultation. They will assess your individual situation, including the severity of your ED, your health, and any other medications you’re taking. They will decide whether these ED medications are right for you, and what dose you should take. If you buy any ED drugs without going through a medical consultation and obtaining a prescription you’re putting your health and your life at risk.

After taking any prescribed ED meds, you should talk to our doctors if they don’t work, if you’re concerned about the side effects, or if you think the dose is wrong.

You should seek immediate medical attention if you think you’re having an allergic reaction, if you’re experiencing heart problems, or have any other concerning side effects.

The bottom line on ED medications

Sildenafil, tadalafil and vardenafil are all proven ways to help men deal with erectile dysfunction. They’re prescription drugs though and they should only be taken after talking with a licensed prescriber. Like all medications they can have side effects, and these will vary from person to person. Talk to our doctors if you’re worried about them. Here at FROM MARS, we have a variety of ED medication available, so contact us if you have any questions.

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Does Viagra help with premature ejaculation?

Viagra, it’s a miracle drug, Right? Whatever issues you’re having in the sack, Viagra is all you need. Right?


Whilst Viagra is an effective way to deal with erectile dysfunction (ED), it won’t cure all performance issues. Specifically, it won’t help with premature ejaculation. And here’s why.

What is premature ejaculation?

Premature ejaculation is when a man ejaculates faster during sex than he or his partner would like. Ejaculating too quickly happens to most men now and again, but it counts as premature ejaculation when it happens often or every time you have sex. If you want to get really technical, the clinical definition of PE uses the following three conditions:

  1. You nearly always ejaculate before sex, or within one minute of starting sex
  2. You can’t delay yourself from ejaculating
  3. You feel negative consequences of ejaculating quickly, like frustration, distress, and wanting to avoid sex

What is Viagra, and what does it do?

Viagra (with the active ingredient Sildenafil) is a drug which is used to treat ED. It works by improving the flow of blood to the penis, making it easier to get and keep an erection (erections are caused by the penis filling with blood). Other ED meds like Levitra (Vardenafil) and Cialis (Tadalafil) work in a similar way to Viagra, so when we talk about Viagra here, you can include these meds too.

Can Viagra help with premature ejaculation?

Unfortunately, for the vast majority of men, Viagra doesn’t help with premature ejaculation.

You’ve probably heard stories of a friend of a friend who took Viagra and lasted all night. There’s rarely any truth behind these stories though. Viagra won’t increase your sex drive, or make your penis bigger, and for most men it won’t make you last longer.

Scientists have studied the effects of drugs like Viagra, and they’ve found no broad evidence that it helps men last longer during sex. When men have premature ejaculation, usually they don’t have a problem getting or keeping an erection. The issue is they climax too fast, so improving the blood flow to the penis won’t help.

With one exception…

In some rare cases, medication like Viagra may help. Sometimes premature ejaculation can be caused by worries about erectile dysfunction. If a man finds it difficult to get, and especially to keep an erection, he may rush through sex to ejaculate as fast as possible rather than face losing his erection. If this is the case, drugs like Viagra may help if they take away the stress about losing an erection, letting you relax and focus on the sex. Erectile dysfunction is only one of the many causes of premature ejaculation though, and if it’s not a problem for you, then Viagra won’t help.

So what can I do about premature ejaculation?

So the bad news is that Viagra most likely won’t do anything for PE. But the great news is that there are plenty of other things you can do to control it, either by changing your behaviour or buying PE meds. Or both.

Behavioural treatments for premature ejaculation

Try changing things up by:

  • Masturbating an hour or two before you have sex, as you may well last longer if you’ve already ejaculated.
  • Prolonging how long it takes you to orgasm when you masturbate. When you get close to ejaculating, stop and wait for the sensations to decrease, then start masturbating again. You may be able to train yourself to last longer before you ejaculate.
  • Using a condom. They make you less sensitive, and some condoms even contain numbing agents that can help reduce your sensitivity.
  • Using lubricant, as more lubricant means less friction, and that may help you last longer.
  • Kegel exercises. Research has shown that these pelvic floor exercises can help some men get more control over their ejaculations.
  • Focusing more on other aspects of sex, like foreplay and oral sex to take the pressure off and have more fun.

Medication for premature ejaculation

Priligy is one of the best PE meds. Take the tablet a few hours before you plan to have sex, and it will temporarily increase serotonin levels in your brain (serotonin is a messenger chemical that affects how your body works), which should prolong the time it takes for you to ejaculate and increase your control over ejaculation. Because it can be taken before sex, and its effects are short-lasting, Priligy is an effective and convenient treatment for premature ejaculation.

Although Viagra, and other similar drugs like Tadalafil and Vardenafil, are effective treatments for ED, they won’t help most men with PE. That’s not what they’re for. But if you have PE there are loads of things you can do to overcome it.

So, it’s time to get started.

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Viagra 101: A guide

If you’re looking for info on what medication to take to help with erectile dysfunction including what they do, how they work, and if they have any side effects, we’ve got you covered with all you need to know before you try anything.

What is Viagra?

OK, first things first. Viagra (active ingredient sildenafil) is a medication that’s used most often to treat erectile dysfunction (ED). It works by improving the flow of blood to the penis, making it easier for it to get and stay hard.

What does Viagra do?

Viagra works by relaxing a type of muscle tissue inside your body that causes your arteries and blood vessels to temporarily widen. This improves blood flow, including the blood flow to your penis, making it easier to get and stay erect.

What doesn’t Viagra do?

Viagra isn’t an aphrodisiac; it won’t get you in the mood or boost your sex drive. Neither will Viagra give you an automatic erection, you have to feel desire for sex, and then Viagra helps turn this desire into an erection.

Despite what you may have heard, there’s no good evidence that Viagra improves your sexual performance, and it won’t make your penis bigger.

Does Viagra work?

This depends on why you’re taking Viagra. If you’re a man, and you have erectile dysfunction then it usually works.

Everyone reacts differently to medication and no treatment has a 100% success rate, but research shows that Viagra is the most effective ED medication. As we said above, if you’re taking Viagra to boost your sex drive, improve your sexual performance, or make your penis bigger, then no, these are false claims about Viagra and other ED meds.

How to take Viagra?

You should always take Viagra in the way and in the dose detailed by our doctors who have prescribed it to you. These tips can help though:

Step 1 - Take the Viagra: Viagra is usually swallowed as a pill. Always take as directed by our doctors. Viagra typically takes between 30 to 60 minutes to work, so take it around one hour before you plan to have sex.

Step 2 - Get in the mood: Viagra won’t automatically give you an erection. You need to be aroused and sexually stimulated, and then Viagra makes it easier for you to get erect. Do what you need to do to get in the mood.

Step 3 - Take your time: Don’t rush. Everyone reacts differently to Viagra, and it might take longer than 30 mins to take effect. Don’t worry though, the effects of Viagra can last up to 4 hours, so you’ve got plenty of time.

Step 4 – Enjoy yourself but stay safe: Viagra is a well-studied and approved medication, but it can have side effects. Stop having sex if you feel unwell, and seek medical attention if you have chest pain, swelling of the face and throat that feels like an allergic reaction, or any other symptom you’re concerned about.

Other common questions about Viagra

How long does Viagra take to work?

This varies by person, but Viagra usually starts to work from 30 to 60 minutes after it’s taken. You can take Viagra with food, but if you take it with a heavy meal it can take longer to work.

How long does Viagra last?

Again, this varies by person and by dose, but the effects of Viagra typically last for between two to three hours. You may be able to get more than one erection in this period, but this varies from man to man.

What are the side effects of Viagra?

The most common side effects of Viagra are relatively mild and short lasting, and include things like headaches, feeling sick, and dizziness.

Other less common Viagra side effects include vomiting, a racing heartbeat, vertigo, and visual disturbances like seeing colours. Rare side effects can include seizures, heart attacks, and strokes but these are uncommon, affecting around 1 in every 1,000 people who take the medication. If you’re worried about the side effects of Viagra, talk to your doctor or prescribing healthcare professional.

Where can I buy Viagra?

FROM MARS is a registered UK pharmacy, so you can buy Viagra or sildenafil right here. Simply start an online consultation and our doctors will assess your needs. If approved, you will receive your prescription plan in two hours. 

Buying Viagra without a prescription in the UK is illegal, so you shouldn’t buy it from a friend, a drug dealer, or through a website that doesn’t ask for a prescription. You can’t trust these sources, and they may even sell you fake medication which could be dangerous.

How much Viagra should I take the first time?

Our doctors will determine the correct dose to take based on your situation and your medical history. Always take Viagra, or any other medication, as advised by our doctors. If you feel your dose isn’t right after the first time, speak to us.

Like any medication, they can have side effects, but these are usually minor and short lasting. If you want to try Viagra, make sure you get a prescription and buy it from a reputable source.

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Why is taking recreational Viagra harmful?

Viagra’s popular for a reason. It works. If you have erectile dysfunction, chances are it can help.

But what if you don’t have any issues getting erections and you want to take Viagra to be better in bed? And what if you don’t want to talk to a doctor, and you buy it without a prescription? Is there any harm? Can you take Viagra just for fun?

Well if you do, you’ll be putting yourself at risk. Here’s why.

What is Viagra and what is it for?

Viagra is the brand name of a drug called sildenafil. It’s a prescription medication that’s used to treat erectile dysfunction (ED); when a man can’t get or maintain an erection firm enough for sex.

It’s taken as a pill which is swallowed, and it works by improving the flow of blood to the penis, helping it get and stay hard. Cialis (tadalafil) and Levitra (vardenafil) are alternative medications that work in a similar way. They’re proven treatments for ED, but sometimes they’re taken by men with no history of erection problems, often recreationally.

What does taking Viagra recreationally mean?

A recreational drug is a legal or illegal drug that’s taken without any medical guidance. Viagra, and its alternatives, are prescription medications, which mean they should only be taken when prescribed by a doctor or other medical professional who can legally write prescriptions, in the way directed by them.

When Viagra, or other similar ED medication, is bought without a prescription, it becomes a recreational drug.

Why do people take Viagra recreationally?

There are a lot of exaggerated claims and myths around Viagra. Some men who don’t have ED, say that it improves their sexual prowess, that it makes their erections harder, bigger, longer lasting, and that it helps them to get hard again faster after orgasm.

You’ve probably heard about the friend of a friend who went for hours after taking Viagra, or about the guy who could go again and again all night long. The drug is also taken recreationally, by both men and women, in the belief that it’s an aphrodisiac; something that turns you on and boosts your sex drive.

Some men take Viagra to counter the effects of other drugs. Alcohol, and illegal drugs like ecstasy/MDMA, cocaine, and ketamine, can cause temporary ED. Some legal drugs, like antidepressants can also cause ED, or reduce desire for sex. Often Viagra is taken recreationally alongside these other drugs in a bid to help out.

And some guys take Viagra for peace of mind. Maybe they’re with a new partner and they’re nervous, and they want to make sure they’ll be able to perform on cue.

But is any of this true?

The truth about Viagra

The truth about Viagra is that it’s an effective treatment for ED, and a few other specific medical conditions like pulmonary arterial hypertension. It won’t turn you into a sexual god. If you don’t have ED, it won’t make your erections bigger or firmer, and it won’t make your penis bigger.

There is some evidence that it can help with premature ejaculation, and that it can help you get harder again faster after coming, but this effect wasn’t found in a later study, so the claims that Viagra can boost sexual prowess are probably more urban legend than reality.

Viagra, and other similar ED drugs, can make your erections last a long time, but that’s a rare side effect of Viagra, and despite what you might think, it’s not a good one. It’s called priapism. It can last for many hours, is usually painful, and it can cause lasting damage to your penis that can actually result in ED.

Viagra isn’t an aphrodisiac either. It doesn’t increase your sex drive. The desire has to be there already, Viagra just helps turn that desire into an erection for men who have ED.

There is evidence that Viagra can help with ED caused by other drugs, like antidepressants. But drugs can interact with each other when taken together, so they should be done so under the guidance of a medical professional. Obviously, we don’t endorse taking illegal drugs, but if you do intend to, and you plan to take Viagra with them, talk to our doctors first. What you say to them is confidential, you won’t get in trouble, and they can give you the benefit of their wisdom.

And if it’s peace of mind you want, then Viagra can help, but it should be your last resort. If you’re worried about sex, then you should speak to your doctor. There’s a recognised psychological condition called performance anxiety, and your doctor can advise you on who you can speak to about it. Viagra can help manage the erectile dysfunction symptoms that come with performance anxiety, but it should only to be tried after other options have been exhausted.

The dangers of taking Viagra recreationally

Viagra, and its alternatives, are established treatments for ED, but like all medications, they have side effects. The most common side effects of Viagra and other ED drugs are relatively mild and short lasting, like headaches, feeling sick, or dizziness. But there can be more dangerous side effects.

We’ve already mentioned priapism, and they can also cause heart problems, seizures, and strokes. These side effects are rare, but they’re a risk. These medications can also interact with other drugs you might be taking, making severe side effects more likely.

When you talk to a healthcare professional about trying an ED treatment like Viagra, you get the benefit of their years of training and experience. They can assess your situation, your health, what other medication you’re taking, and they can decide whether the treatment is right for you, as well as recommend the correct dosage and advise you on how to take it properly.

When you take Viagra recreationally, you do it without that guidance, and you put yourself at risk.

The takeaway

Viagra, and alternatives like Cialis and Levitra, are proven treatments for erectile dysfunction. However, they’re medications that can have side effects and there’s a risk to taking them, particularly without the guidance of a healthcare professional.

Many of the reasons people take Viagra recreationally aren’t even real. Don’t put yourself at risk over a myth. If you’re thinking about taking Viagra, talk to us first.

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Erections 101: How to get stronger erections?

Guys, we might now be more open than we’ve ever been, but there are still some things we just don’t want to talk about. Like penises and erection problems. We’ve all had doubts and it’s common to worry. Is it big enough? Does it look weird? Do I stay as hard as other men? Am I the only one who’s ever had problems getting or keeping it up? Why do I lose an erection during intercourse? Why can I only get semi-erect?

While these questions might be running through your head, it’s not necessarily something that’s discussed between friends. You also might not feel that comfortable talking to your doctor either.

What you need is scientifically-correct and actionable advice. Here we’ll talk about what’s normal, we’ll cover problems with erections, and let you know what you can do about it.

What's a "normal" penis?

We might claim we don’t care, but most men want to know how they stack up. Let’s look at penis size, shape, and how long most men stay hard for:

What’s a normal penis size?

Despite what you might see in porn, large penises are rare. A study of penis size from 2014, which measured 15,521 men’s private parts, found the average length when erect was 5.2 inches, with 95% of men between 3.9 to 6.4 inches. The average circumference when erect (the distance around the penis) was 4.6 inches, with 95% of men between 3.7 to 5.5 inches. Basically, the average erect length is about 5 inches, and the majority of men are within an inch or so either side of that.

What’s a normal penis shape?

There’s been less research on shape, although one expert in the field claims they’ve identified four different types of penis, ranging from 'the big head' to 'the curve'. The truth is that penises come in a wide range of shapes, and you really shouldn’t worry about it, unless the shape of your penis stops you from getting an erection or having sex, like if you have a condition like Peyronie's disease. You should speak to a doctor if this is the case.

How long do most men’s erections last?

Like penis size, the truth may be less imposing than porn or your mate’s tall tales would have you believe. A study of 500 straight couples from across Europe and the US found the average duration of erections during sex was 5.4 minutes. This varied by age, with younger men lasting longer, but not massively so. Men 18 to 30 years old lasted an average of 6.5 minutes, whilst men over 51 lasted an average of 4.3 minutes.

How many men have problems with erections?

This might surprise you too. The truth is no one knows exactly how many men have problems getting or staying hard, as different research approaches have come up with widely different numbers, from as few as 3% of men, up to 76.5%. It’s established that older men usually have more issues with erections, but more and more younger men are reporting problems too. It’s probably safe to say that most men experience some sort of erection problem every now and again. The medical term for erection problems is erectile dysfunction. Let’s look at that next.

What is erectile dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is when a man can’t get or maintain an erection firm enough for sex. This can include not being able to get an erection at all, getting semi-erect, or not being able to maintain an erection for long enough to finish sex. This used to be called impotence, but that’s a loaded word. Erectile dysfunction is more neutral, and appropriately medical sounding, as it is a recognised medical condition. We’ll explore ED a bit more, but first, let’s look at what happens when you get an erection, as this helps you to understand ED a little better.

What happens when you get an erection?

It all begins in your head. Something turns you on - a sight, a touch, a smell - and this causes your brain to release a particular cocktail of chemicals and hormones. These trigger messages to be sent from your brain through your nerves to the blood vessels in your penis.

Despite what you may have heard or think, your penis isn’t a bone or a muscle, it’s more like a sponge that’s filled with blood vessels. The nerve messages cause these blood vessels to relax and widen and fill with blood. At the same time, the vessels that carry blood away from your penis tighten, so more blood flows in and stays inside than leaves. This increase in blood pressure causes your penis to rise and harden.

What causes erection problems?

There are a range of causes of ED, but in summary, anything that interferes with the flow of blood around your body, how your nerves work, or alters your hormone levels can cause ED. And psychology obviously plays a role too. You might feel turned on, but anxiety, or mental health conditions like depression, can affect your thinking and throw a spanner in the works.

If you’ve experienced ED, then there are plenty of things you can do to help. It’s also worth talking to a doctor about it, as although it might be embarrassing, ED can be a sign you have a serious health condition, so it’s not something to ignore.

How do I get stronger erections?

If you’re questioning how to maintain an erection, the good news is there are changes you can make to your lifestyle to improve the quality of your erections:


Aerobic exercise like running, swimming, and boxing can help strengthen the heart and improve the flow of blood around your body, including the flow of blood to your penis. Research has shown that 40 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise four times a week can help reduce erectile dysfunction.

Lose weight

Being overweight can put you at risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes, all of which can cause ED. Too much weight around your belly can reduce testosterone levels too. Keeping your weight down should help stop these conditions from affecting your erections.

Eat a healthy diet

A healthy diet has been linked to a lower risk of ED, and there’s even evidence that certain foods can help with erections.

Get enough sleep

There’s growing evidence that bad sleep can contribute to ED too. A good night’s sleep has a whole host of benefits, so make sure you get enough sleep to wake feeling refreshed in the morning.

Quit smoking

Smoking damages the heart and blood vessels, harming your circulatory system and increasing your chances of ED. There’s even evidence that smoking damages the tissues inside your penis. Getting better erections is just one of the many benefits of giving up smoking.

Don’t drink too much alcohol or take recreational drugs before sex

Research has shown that light to moderate drinking can temporarily help with ED, but that excessive and regular drinking can cause it. A couple of drinks might help you relax and calm any nerves, but any more is likely to lead to ‘brewers droop.’ Illegal drugs like heroin, ecstasy (MDMA), and speed (amphetamine) can all cause ED too.

Try erectile dysfunction treatments

Erectile dysfunction medications such as sildenafil (Viagra) or tadalafil (Cialis) are medically proven to help your erections when you need them the most.

There are a lot of myths and misunderstandings around penises, as well as how to get an erection in the first place, and how to keep an erection, so hopefully we’ve dispelled a lot of that.

Experiencing erection problems can be really distressing, particularly if you haven’t got anyone to talk to about it. Remember it’s something that can and does happen to most men, but that doesn’t mean it’s something to ignore.

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10 Foods to Help you Stay Erect

Your diet has an effect on your body. This shouldn’t be news to anyone. But did you know that what you eat and drink can affect your erections? What you put in your mouth can make a difference to what happens down there.

There are foods that can help you stay erect. Specifically, foods that have been scientifically proven to boost testosterone, improve blood flow, and to help combat erectile dysfunction (ED).


Start the day the right way, and you could reap the benefits later on. Try including some of these foods for erectile dysfunction in your breakfast:

1. Porridge

It might not sound like the sexiest of meals, but oats are rich in the amino acids your body needs to stay healthy, including L-arginine, which has been shown to reduce ED by improving blood flow to the penis, which is what sildenafil (Viagra) actually does. Oats can also reduce cholesterol levels, helping to prevent arteries becoming narrowed or blocked, which can also help combat ED.

2. Coffee

Research has shown that men who drink the equivalent of two to three cups of coffee a day have a lower chance of having ED. It’s thought that caffeine is the magic ingredient, and that it possibly helps to stave off ED by relaxing the arteries and muscles inside the penis, improving the flow of blood, resulting in stronger erections.


Ditch that mediocre meal deal for some of these:

3. Shellfish, chicken, and tofu

Zinc plays an important role in the production of testosterone. Loads of studies have found links between low levels of zinc and low levels of the hormone, which can lead to reduced desire for sex and ED. Good sources of zinc include shellfish, particularly oysters, chicken, and for vegetarians, tofu.

4. Tuna

Magnesium has been shown to boost testosterone, and it also helps your body process nitric oxide, which helps relax muscle tissue inside the penis and encourage blood to flow into it. Tuna and other oily fish like mackerel and pollock are rich in magnesium and therefore decent foods for erections.

5. Green vegetables

Green vegetables, like asparagus, spinach, edamame beans, and broccoli, are all good sources of folic acid, a type of B vitamin that improves blood flow. Research has linked low levels of folic acid to ED, so make sure you don’t skip your greens.

6. Fruit

Potassium has been shown to assist blood flow as it helps to stop your arteries from becoming blocked.

Many types of fruit are good sources of potassium, including kiwis, cantaloupe melons, guavas and bananas. Yes that’s right, the most phallic of fruit does in fact help with ED. Why not have a portion of fruit for dessert after lunch and avoid the inevitable post-lunch snacking?


Steak, curry, and chocolate. Now we’re talking.

7. Beef

Beef can be a great testosterone booster. It’s high in zinc, but it also contains an amino acid called leucine which has also been shown to improve testosterone levels. Beef can be fatty though, so make sure you choose leaner cuts, like sirloin steak. Remember that red meat has been linked to heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers, so make steak an occasional treat more than a regular part of your diet.

8. Curry

Research has shown that men who eat spicy foods have higher than average levels of testosterone. The key ingredient in the spice is thought to be capsaicin, a molecule found in chili peppers that may boost levels of testosterone. Foods high in capsaicin are those which contain chili, like curries. You can also add capsaicin to your diet by using hot pepper sauces like Tabasco sauce.

9. Dark chocolate

Great news if you’ve got a sweet tooth. Flavonoids, a type of antioxidant found in plants, and in high levels in dark chocolate, have been shown to improve blood flow. Dark chocolate is also high in magnesium, making it a double win.


Steer clear of those artery-clogging, waist-expanding biscuits and crisps, and grab a handful of nuts and seeds instead:

10. Nuts and seeds

Nuts and seeds are packed with nutrients, including erection-friendly magnesium and zinc. Research has also found that regularly eating nuts improved men’s libidos and the quality of their orgasms. Awesome. Nuts and seeds can be high in calories though, so don’t eat the whole bag in one go.

Healthy life, healthy heart, healthy erections

You might have noticed a trend here. Yep, most of the foods we’ve recommended are healthy. But if you want good erections, you need to try and lead a healthy life too.

In addition to the specific benefits we’ve mentioned here, a good diet, that’s rich in fruit and vegetables, fish, and lean meats, can help keep your weight and cholesterol down, as well as ensure your heart is strong, and that blood is pumping around your body. All of these will improve your chances of avoiding erectile dysfunction. In fact, exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, and getting enough sleep can also help too.

These specific foods for erectile dysfunction aren’t a miracle cure though. They can help, but if you regularly experience ED, you should see your doctor too. It can be an early sign that you have a more serious health condition. Read our causes of erectile dysfunction post where you can learn more about erectile dysfunction and get advice on what you can do about it.

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