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August 5, 2013 | by  | in Opinion |
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Things That Go Bump in the Night

I sometimes have trouble getting or maintaining an erection when I’m having sex with someone. It’s not a problem when I’m wanking but with someone else things don’t always work perfectly. Is this normal for a 22-year-old guy? What can I do to help it?


I’m a person with a penis, and I predominantly sleep with people with penises, and I can straight-up tell you right here and now, this is not abnormal. It’s happened to both me and to people I’ve slept with, with differing degrees of severity.

In my experience there are two (related) main reasons why you don’t have an erection when you want one.

1 – Stress

2 – Pressure

A while ago, I was going through a very stressful patch with uni/life, and when I had sex with a regular partner, I would sometimes not be able to get it up so easily. I didn’t sleep much before my final exam, and before sex that evening I was worried tiredness would mean the erection trend would continue, but without exam stress, things went totally fine for my junk! Very few people can perform like a porn star when you’re stressed or exhausted. Relax! It’ll be good for more than just your dick.

I suspect porn is partially to blame for the pressure to be hard on demand. Whenever a penis wants an erection in porn, it has one. Of course, this is often artificial, with breaks for the performers, and drugs like Trimix or Viagra, but even knowing that, it still constructs an unnatural expectation.

It’s the kind of thing where once it’s happened once (and sometimes it will just happen for no reason at all), you start to worry it will happen again, putting more pressure on your peen to perform and making it less likely to do so. Knowing that helps, but the thing that has worked more for me than anything else is to just fucking talk about it. Don’t ignore it, or treat it like a horrible secret, because obsessing over it by yourself won’t help. Knowing your partner knows about any erectile dysfunction (of any severity) lifts a lot of performance pressure, which makes limpness less likely anyway!

Finally, some people just don’t get as erect as often. This doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong, and it may be the case that this is just the way you are. If things work better when you’re tugging yourself off, you could take more control of your dick during sex, and I’ve found using lube helps too. Aside from that, there are plenty of fun things not requiring an erection, especially if you invest in a toy or several!




Having trouble getting hard, or staying hard, can be difficult in even the strongest relationships. It can make you worry that maybe there is something wrong with you, and sometimes your partner may feel like maybe there is something wrong with them and you no longer find them attractive or desirable. Most commonly, and in the majority of situations, neither of those reasons will be the root cause (pun intended). It’s simple: being a complex piece of machinery, sometimes your dick just doesn’t want to cooperate. Maybe you are stressed out over something, a little nervous, suffering from performance anxiety, had a few too many beersies, or perhaps you can hear your flatmate washing the dishes in the next room.

The best thing you can do is relax and not let this stress you or your partner out any more than it needs to. If you’re in a position where you are comfortable, it might help to explain to her that it is not her fault, and that it is an issue that you can work through together; opening the lines of communication will make this easier for both of you. However, this is obviously a lot more difficult if you are having sex with a new partner.

Try to reduce your stress levels, exercise and eat healthy so you have a clear head. It is also a good idea to try to reduce distraction while the two of you are getting frisky; throw on a soundtrack to drown out outside noise and distractions so you can keep your head in the game.

When it comes to getting it up before you get it on, be sure to take it slow. Making time for foreplay will provide more opportunity to build tension and excitement, and hopefully this should help you to gain and maintain a solid erection.

It may also be helpful to avoid masturbating the day or two beforehand.

If this continues to be a real problem for you or you think something may be wrong, there is no harm in seeking some advice from your doctor. Keep in mind too that in their lives, most men with have some difficulty in getting and maintaining an erection to some extent. Don’t beat yourself up over it.


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