I can't get it up in my new relationship. Help?
July 1, 2012 4:56 PM   Subscribe

All of a sudden, my, uh, dude part is not cooperating with me. This is a new problem and I don't have health insurance. Are there are any exercises or treatments that don't involve prescriptions? More inside.

Hoo boy. So, back in my early 20's I had this thing where I basically could only get it up like 50% of the time. I just got freaked or psyched out or something and my penis would run in fear. At some point this ended and I spent the last 8 years having a happy, problem free sex life.

Then I made a lot of life changes. I moved back from being abroad, swapped careers, got a divorce, hopped into a very intense relationship that ended suddenly and ambiguously and holed up for a few months, hermit-style. I finally got it together and I'm now in a supportive, amazing relationship with a smart, beautiful woman who wants to have sex with me. Problem is, I can't seem to keep a hard on for my life and its starting to become an issue. This has been going on for about two months.

Details: Late 20's, no STDs. I have no problem masturbating, I often have an erection when I wake up and on quite a few occasions I've been able to achieve an erection when we're in foreplay, but then lose it when it comes time for sex. I've been able to, on occasion, come during oral sex.

I'd be willing to talk to a doctor about this, but I am insurance-less and not exactly rolling in expendable income, so any suggestions for treatments or exercises or whatever outside of the "Get thee to a doctor"-type are much appreciated. I'm in LA if it matters at all.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

IANADPD (I Am Not a Dude-Part Doctor), however: the fact that you CAN get an erection while solo (and while sleeping) indicates to me that there's a good chance it's NOT a physical issue - at least not ENTIRELY. It certainly couldn't HURT to improve your physical health - cut out the cigs/booze/caffeine, if you indulge, and also get lots of exercise.

If my hunch is correct and the problem is largely psychological, you may want to give the sensate focus technique a whirl... it can sometimes help alleviate sex-related anxiety, which sounds like it could be a BIG part of your problem.
posted by julthumbscrew at 5:07 PM on July 1, 2012 [2 favorites]

Yes, the easiest, low-cost way of at least isolating the problem is to get rid of the booze and cigs first, then lose some extra weight if needs be.

Stress is an erection killer, so go forth and relax (no booze, drugs, benzos though - and decrease the masturbation).
posted by heyjude at 5:23 PM on July 1, 2012

Anxiety is a common erection-killer, and anxiety about getting an erection produces a tedious negative feedback loop of detumescence. What I'd suggest is that you engage in other sexual activities so that your can feel secure that your partner is satisfied. Make the focus be on her, so that you're not both worrying about whether an erection can be conjured up or not before you can have fun. Experiencing her arousal and satisfaction may wind up giving you the erection you desire. If not, do be aware that you don't have to be erect to enjoy sexual stimulation. If both you and your partner take a playful attitude and view "soft" sex as a fun thing to explore, then the pressure is off and you can both enjoy yourselves, whatever the state of your "dude part."
posted by DrMew at 5:29 PM on July 1, 2012 [3 favorites]

I've had a partner once who had issues with similar stuff. It turned out to be a combination of mild physical, but mostly psychological.

Some things that jump out at me about your situation:

1) You just got done with a divorce and a very intense relationship. Is it possible that you still have feelings for either of these individuals? Sometimes, no matter how smart and awesome the new partner is, feelings for the old partners may crop up and make it feel disloyal to be aroused by the new one. It appears that it's only been about five months since that relationship broke up? How long were you involved with that individual?

2) When you masturbate, what are you thinking about? When you have oral sex, are you looking at the person you're with?

3) Are you nervous about this relationship going poorly, the way your marriage and most recent intense relationship did?

4) You say the last relationship ended "ambiguously." Does some part of you want to get back together?
posted by corb at 5:31 PM on July 1, 2012

In addition to the obvious stress you're under, there's a problem in the way you conceive of sex:

"on quite a few occasions I've been able to achieve an erection when we're in foreplay, but then lose it when it comes time for sex."

Intercourse need not be The Main Event. In fact, the main event doesn't even have to be something involving your penis. By devaluing other things as "foreplay" and placing extreme focus on an event wherein your penis has to perform, you are doing both yourself and your partner a disservice. Yes, many women like to be penetrated. But I guarantee that if you stop being so self-conscious and really, really focus on her (most likely including her clit) without worrying about your penis, your sex life will improve.
posted by parrot_person at 6:43 PM on July 1, 2012 [2 favorites]

Are you using condoms? I've known dudes who were used to unprotected sex (say, in a marriage) and when they went back to having to use condoms the lesser sensation/lesser intimacy was a major boner-killer.

Also, this: Are you nervous about this relationship going poorly, the way your marriage and most recent intense relationship did?

And this: anxiety about getting an erection produces a tedious negative feedback loop of detumescence

are where you need to start. (Disclaimer: I do not have a penis.)
posted by Brittanie at 7:06 PM on July 1, 2012

Did you get used to using porn somewhere along the line? Check out http://www.yourbrainonporn.com/ to see if any of it rings a bell. There is a lot more porn-related ED out there than most people realize.
posted by zachawry at 7:35 PM on July 1, 2012 [5 favorites]

i think maybe your hermitude is still having an effect, not to mention the stuff before that.
posted by rhizome at 8:16 PM on July 1, 2012

try "dirty talk" with your girlfriend when you start doing PiV. describe the porn you usually watch when you can jerk off while you fuck your girl friend. BUT, talk to her first about it, like "i'm going to try doing this to keep an erection, fyi" so she knows what's going on.
posted by cupcake1337 at 10:58 PM on July 1, 2012

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