I’m 29 and having erection problems for the first time in my life. Kinda freaked out. I can get hard but sometimes go soft during sex and can’t get it going again. What should I do? Its starting to bug my gf.
— Anonymous, from Tumblr
Sarah: I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: erections are the body’s way of telling you how healthy you are. I would go right to your doc just to make sure that it’s not something larger going on. Assuming a clean bill of health, are you getting distracted during sex? Are you under an acutely enormous amount of stress from work or from some personal event like a death? People have erection problems for all kinds of reasons, and if it persists, I bet Debby could recommend some sex therapists to help you work through it.
Debby: The strength and reliability of penile erections is influenced by so many things: age, hormones, general health, medication side effects, performance anxiety, feeling turned on (or not), and even (as relevant) air/water temperature. Most young healthy men who have erection difficulties are being influenced by performance anxiety - not actual erectile dysfunction (ED). But you never know! So when erectile difficulties become an ongoing issue, Sarah’s correct that a good thing to do is to check in with a doctor or nurse to screen, for example, for things like diabetes, heart disease, or other health conditions or medication side effects. Taking time to do things you’re sexually into (whatever foreplay looks like for you) is not just important for women and those with vaginas, but also helps the penis do it’s thing. If you find yourself super focused on your partner and pleasing her (a good thing in healthy doses, a difficult thing if your focus on her is taking away from your own experience) then that could be affecting things too. Many men I know, even as young as college-aged guys, have been helped by reading a book like The New Male Sexuality or The Sexual Male: Problems and Solutions even though both books are kind of older (still good info, though, and often all it takes to address common enough erection issues in young, healthy men). If you’d like to meet with a sex therapist, you can find one locally through www.sstarnet.org or www.aasect.org.