I can’t maintain an erection during sex

Written by on April 27, 2017

I am putting myself under pressure based on previous experience. How can I break the cycle?


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I am 25 years old and struggle with erectile dysfunction. I can get an erection but can’t maintain it during intercourse. I have been to my doctor for tests and am relatively healthy. I think that it’s in my head; I am putting myself under pressure based on previous experience and need to break the cycle.

A “cycle”, as you put it, can certainly become established after a man experiences a number of erectile failures and begins to lose confidence. Once the idea of attempting intercourse produces anxiety rather than excitement, it becomes less and less likely he will successfully produce a reliable erection. Pharmaceutical agents can bypass this cycle, but it can also be extremely important to learn to be less fixated on erectile ability and instead focus on pleasure. Learning it is possible to give and receive enormous pleasure without an erection can be a vital aspect of a return to sexual health. This knowledge can lead to a reduction of the pressure you mentioned, as well as to a lifetime of sexual confidence and enjoyment.

Try to think of love-making as fun, not a trial. Laugh more, be more playful, and try to create opportunities for being together in situations that would be enjoyable for you both, even if sex does not occur. Most importantly, explore non-penetrative styles of eroticism. These things will help increase your sexual comfort and confidence and reduce the pressure you currently feel to be an on-demand sex machine. You are merely human.

• Pamela Stephenson Connolly is a psychotherapist who specializes in treating sexual disorders

• If you would like advice from Pamela Stephenson Connolly on sexual matters, send us a brief description of your concerns to private.lives@theguardian.com (please don’t send attachments).

 

 

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