Dear Doctor Amorous,
Here is a sex question for you. There is nothing wrong with me medically, but I have problems getting and keeping an erection. It stresses me out so much that I tend to avoid sex or to choose girlfriends with super low libido so that I just don’t have to deal with it. When we do have sex, I have to really concentrate to keep it up and it stresses me out.
I’m happy when it’s over not because I came, but because I know I just earned another two to four weeks of peace. But if I’m honest, I would like to be having sex in whatever way people who find it fun are having it, and I want you to tell me if there is some way to get past this so it is not so complicated and stressful.
It seems like it is so simple for some people and I would really like to have that. If I wasn’t worrying about my dick the whole time, I could finally know what it’s like to have sex which is fun.
Thanks so much,
Well, this is a problem I know my way around, as I have been credited with curing impotence on numerous occasions, a thing of which I am very proud but can’t exactly put on my CV.
First thing to do is deal with any physical factors which might be contributing. If you smoke or eat meat, stop right away. Both cause your blood vessels to close off, a process which affects the blood vessels to your penis first, since they are the most narrow.
This is why older men are most often effected by erectile dysfunction: They have accumulated the most deposits in their blood vessels. We tend to treat that as normal, but it isn’t; it’s just frequent, and the nerd in me wants to give everybody a lecture right now about the difference between normal and frequent, but that’s a different topic.
Quit smoking, go vegetarian, eat a plant-based diet, and you will be in good shape penis-wise as well as energy-wise – which will definitely benefit your sex life. Other physical factors that can contribute are a lack of exercise and poor sleep, so start looking after yourself properly.
The second step is to break the cycle.
At this point, you equate having sex with getting into a stressful and frustrating situation, so naturally you are avoiding sex. What you need to do is collect up experiences where physical intimacy is fun and relaxed.
You don’t say whether you have a partner right now, but if you do, I recommend trying Sensate Focus Therapy. It basically involves making out within various levels of limitations (with clothes on, clothes off, excluding genitals, including genitals, genitals but no orgasm, etc.) The point is to focus on how you feel, not on what your penis is or isn’t doing, and to re-connect with your partner without being on a trajectory towards intercourse.
This process works wonders and is a lot of fun. Getting out of your head and in the moment will re-teach your body that sex is nice. Since in the early phases you aren’t allowed to touch genitals, let alone use them, it takes the pressure off so you are not in an exam-type situation and can chill and enjoy yourself. You will also learn to use your fingers once genitals are integrated, and that is important.
If you know you can consistently get your partner off regardless of what your penis is doing, the sense of looming disaster will go away.
If past partners have reacted in such a way as to exacerbate the problem, e.g. by getting huffy or shaming you or taking it personally, take that as a good indicator as to whether a given individual is ready for a relationship or deserves sex.
Nobody who body-shames gets to come. This should be a universal law.
The third thing I’d like you to do is to get in touch with what you actually want to do sexually, what you are into, what revs your engine. If you have been having vanilla sex, missionary position, lying down in bed under the covers, then, well, it’s no wonder your penis is not really responding. It is probably bored.
Communicate with your partner about your fantasies and about what you think is hot.
Do you want to smack her behind? Do you want to have your clothes mostly on and have her be naked? Do you like the idea of doing it against the wall or in the kitchen? Do you need to be a little buzzed? Do you need to see more naked skin or more skin covered in black lace? Do you want to be called certain things or talked to in a certain way?
Again, shift the focus from “What is my dick doing?” to “What am I into, what would be fun, what do I want?” Men often struggle to believe this, but I am here to testify that there is an entire universe of sex which is not dependent on dicks.
So there’s your homework: Find a friendly and relaxed partner and give it a go. Take care of your heart and your body, recover the ability to play, and your penis will sort itself out.