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January 10, 2006 3:57 PM   Subscribe

I'm 23, recently lost my virginity, new girlfriend, cant stay hard. Help.

I had a hard time cuming my first time...just didnt seem to be happening for me (a blow-job sorted that tho...eventually).

It was a one night thing that I did to get my first time out of the way. Now i'm in a decent stable relationship...I cant get or stay hard enough to have sex. Thankfully she's understanding, but I can tell it bothers her. Shes been willing to keep things oral for the moment and let me "work this problem out". I just dont feel as stimulated as I should, especially when I put a condom on - I just go limp. Ive ordered some very thin condoms which I'm hoping will help, but if anyone can offer some support or advice i would love to hear it.
At the start of our relationship I couldnt cum no matter what, but thats getting easier each time.

Everytime it happens I get more nervous the next time.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (40 answers total)

Do you have this problem when you're masturbating?
posted by k8t at 4:00 PM on January 10, 2006

Perhaps your anxiety and embarrassment over losing your virginity at this age, and with performance issues the first time, is snowballing. I know it's easier said than done, but relaxing and letting it be a fun way to share the love with your girlfriend may help you out. You don't need to feel nervous about this, and it's not like we're all Romeos right out the gate. It's cool! It's a part of life! Just remember that you're with a woman who wants to make you happy, and you want to make her happy.

Also, when you masturbate, make sure you're not applying a vise grip. Try going more gently. Perhaps you may wish to try avoiding masturbation for a bit before the next time you try intercourse.

Good luck!
posted by Sticherbeast at 4:14 PM on January 10, 2006

Quit masturbating. Too bad this is Anon. What K8T, I think, is asking, is, can you ejaculate normally? Or do you have trouble there too? Are you masturbating often? Stop. Stop entirely.

Odds are you're a healthy 23 yo man. Stay away from anything arousing except for your GF. Let foreplay be foreplay...stay away from alcohol. Slow down, relax and try to enjoy it.
posted by filmgeek at 4:17 PM on January 10, 2006

Quit masturbating? Mmm, good luck with that.

Try masturbating with a condom on and with lube for a while. Get used to the sensation etc.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 4:27 PM on January 10, 2006

If you're 23 and just losing your virginity, I'll go out on an limb and assume you've been masturbating for some time now. No offense, I'd imagine myself doing the same thing in your shoes. The problem here is that your body is conditioned for a certain set of cues before it begins the standard ejaculation process, in Pavlovian fashion. The new set of cues are confusing, and it will take some time for your body to adjust. Also, you are probably much better at stimulating yourself than your girlfriend is at pleasing you, especially when using condoms. Quitting masturbating entirely would certainly help, but what kind of a life is that?
posted by mullingitover at 4:27 PM on January 10, 2006

I would recommend a doctor. It's probably not physical, but who knows. And the doc could put you in touch with a therapist that could help you work this out.

Yeah, you'll find it very embarrassing to go to the doctor. So what. Deal with it if the relationship means anything to you.
posted by teece at 4:39 PM on January 10, 2006

I think dan savage has written about this problem a couple of times. IIRC, he recommended stopping masturbating as frequently and switching up your, erm, technique when you do give in. You might try searching for his column (which is called savage love) on the topic, as the column is widely reprinted online.
posted by MadamM at 4:39 PM on January 10, 2006

This is the kind of thing that can drive men crazy! Being able to get a hardon is so central to our ideas of male identity that it can be really stressful to "not be able to perform."

Assuming that you're medically ok (can get erect for masturbation and/or at night?), and that you're sexually attracted to her, this is probably 99% about anxiety. This kind of performance anxiety and sexual excitement are diametrically opposed. What you need to do is to find a way to not stress about this.

Can you talk about this with your girlfriend? Let her know you need her help to work this thing out. Take lovemaking easy. Don't assume that you need to climax for it to be "real." Each of you need to communicate about what makes you feel good. Take it slow. If you find yourself starting to get anxious, you've probably gone too far, too fast. Tell her - back off and pick up again at some point where you feel excited again.

Play with each other's bodies, cultivate sensuality rather than trying to grind out an orgasm.
posted by jasper411 at 4:45 PM on January 10, 2006

You're 23, no heart problems? Good health? Use Viagra. Sometimes things get into a rut, and a few times using Viagra restores (ha ha ha) confidence. I'm serious, if I were you I'd score some Viagra and take 1/4 of the pill or 1/2 if you're having a hard (ha ha ha) time. Of course if you're worried see a doctor to make sure you won't have a heart attack, but reasonably there are a ton of 23 year olds doing way more dangerous things. Seventy year old men take this, it's relatively benign.
posted by geoff. at 5:00 PM on January 10, 2006

maybe you're just too nervous, you need some Viagra, no matter how nervous you are, it'll get you hard.

after a few times, I guess you'll be confident and relaxed enough to make it on your own.

if not, you'll die of a Viagra OD. happily.
posted by matteo at 5:01 PM on January 10, 2006

Though my boyfriend has never had this problem, ultra-thin condoms definitely seem to improve sensation on the male end.

This endorsement is not intended to negate other advice.
posted by SoftRain at 5:02 PM on January 10, 2006

This is all anxiety. You are too young for any of the other maladies to be likely. Sit back, relax and stop worrying about how you are doing. Be a little selfish even. Enjoy. Once you get your sea legs you can start worrying about how well you sail.
posted by caddis at 5:06 PM on January 10, 2006

It took me years to become consistently erect when in bed with a woman. I worried that whole time whether something was wrong with me. I also had a number of girlfriends who were more than a little annoyed by what I couldn't do. I found out later that this happened to more guys than are willing to admit it.

If you're really worried about it, go see a doctor. If you know that you're able to get hard by yourself, give it time. In the mean time, learn how to please a woman in as many ways as possible. By the time you're able to achieve regular erections, you will be a stud ;)

Hang in there guy, it happens.
posted by anonymous comment at 5:10 PM on January 10, 2006

You're psyching yourself out. This happened to me when I first got active with a girl I hoped would be a long term deal. Previous casual dealings didn't help because I wanted everything to be perfect, and thus I psyched myself out.

First things first. Once you get into the rhytm of things, you'll be fine. Remember that!

I'm pretty sure you've let her know that the reason you're having trouble is because you can't believe you're with someone so amazing, right?

Is there a certain ritual you have when (if) you whack off? What elements of that ritual can you incorporate into sex without her knowing? I say without because this is one of those self-fulfilling prophecy type things. Letting her know makes it a Big Deal and sex in the first place is a Big Enough Deal that you don't need the added pressure.

Keep away from getting drunk, but a bit of a light buzz might be helpful for turning the worries off.

Have her guide you in when you are hard. That'll keep some of the stress off you.

Hope this helps!
posted by robocop is bleeding at 5:43 PM on January 10, 2006

"Everytime it happens I get more nervous the next time."

And so the cycle continues. Pretty much whatever you're paranoid of happening in bed is what's going to happen. I had the reverse problem of finishing too soon. I knew it wasn't physical, as when I was in a loving, trusting, supportive, committed relationship, I had no problems. But when I was with someone new or when I wasn't secure in the relationship, I could go five minutes tops of actual intercourse (and, strangely, had great difficulty getting off through oral).

If you can get all boingy boingy on your own, then nothing is wrong with you physically. If you can't, see a doctor. I don't recommend using pharmacology as a solution, but I'm a hypocrite as I occasionally used marijuana to help slow things down. Still, at this stage, there are better solutions than pill popping...

So assuming it's psychological, what to do? "Stop worrying about it" obviously isn't going to help. So do what I did... become the grandmaster of everything else. Intercourse is not the end-all be-all of sex. Focus on her. Learn to derive pleasure from feeling and seeing and hearing her get off. Pay attention to how she reacts when you touch her in certain ways. If she moves whatever body part towards you, then good, keep it up. If she pulls back, change it around. Look at it as an investment. Make it all about her for the time being. Enjoy your time with her. Take pleasure in the act of lovemaking, not the final goopy result of one of the participants. Discuss your concerns with your girlfriend and ask her not to put pressure on you.

I make no guarantee that you'll eventually solve the posted problem, but if you hone all of your other skills, you'll have no shortage of dates.
posted by p7a77 at 5:48 PM on January 10, 2006

1) condoms suck
2) what mullingitover said

disclaimer/ disclosure: I am not male. (But I like males and have had experience with them.)
posted by small_ruminant at 5:49 PM on January 10, 2006

Oh, something SHE could do... talk dirty to you. This might be awkward and strange, since 23-year-olds are generally fumbling and insecure, but ask her to simply describe what she's doing, and tell you what she likes about it. For example, "I love the feel of your cock in my mouth." She doesn't need to get creative, simply describe the action and put a personal take on it. And smile. It may feel a little forced and insincere at first since she's not just spontaneously doing it, but perhaps your problem has something to do with not wanting to see women as objects? If she can convince you that she's downright hot and bothered by everything about you, that could help. If you don't want to have to ask her to do it, then start doing it yourself. If she's an attentive lover, she'll pick up on it. Which brings me to another general sex tip... whatever someone does to you is usually an expression of that person's preferences. For example, if she's kissing your neck, that means she likes hers kissed.
posted by p7a77 at 5:58 PM on January 10, 2006

it's performance anxiety.

solution: don't have sex.

make a rule of no sex, and decide on a terribly long time that the rule is in effect - say, a month or so. you'll eventually get comfortable being in sexual situations because nothing is expected of you, and with that anxiety gone suddenly you'll start to pop boners like it ain't no thang. once that happens you two will throw the rule out of the window (even though it won't have been a whole month) and never stop having sex.

also: study up on cunnilingus.
posted by soma lkzx at 6:13 PM on January 10, 2006

Viagra a few times, you shouldn't need to use it forever, don't think of it as a permanent solution, think of it as working with a net.
posted by I Foody at 6:48 PM on January 10, 2006

I experienced this some time ago, back when I was dealing with some unrelated anxiety issues on the side. In many ways the two phenomenon were identical. I'd get so worried about having a panic attack that I'd inevitably have a panic attack.

I'd want so badly to fuck like a stallion that I'd end up all noodly.

Eventually, you'll get over it. Sex should be a pleasant and enjoyable thing - not a task that you have to psych yourself up for. I second/third the advice already given. Decide that you and your girl are going to do everything but have penetrative sex. Get into the cunnilingus as soma lkzx suggests, buy her a vibe and help her use it, etc. If those suggestions don't float your boat, find something else that you're both comfortable with. Eventually, you'll forget to be uptight about things and will end up . . . up.

I don't know anything about medicine or Viagra, but I think that should be the solution of last resort. You don't want to get to the point where you feel that you require medication in order to function.

Unless, of course, you really do have a medical problem, which seems unlikely.

In any case, good luck!
posted by aladfar at 7:16 PM on January 10, 2006

It's partially anxiety management, partially training your body to respond to a new set of physical cues.
Don't sweat it too much, but do not take drugs! There may be a 'holistic' or natural alternative, but gettin' on the drug train is adding another angle to your issue; you don't want a crutch, you want a solution.
Fool around nekkid with your lady, without even thinking about la penetrado.
Exercise, do some cardio, get that blood flowing freely to your extremities.
Lay off the self-flaggellation for a while. This could be a huge part of your problem... as a friend of mine who had a similar issue deduced.

Albie. My friend's name was Albie.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 7:29 PM on January 10, 2006

Get aids tests and birth control and lose the condoms.
posted by signal at 7:30 PM on January 10, 2006

I wonder how long anon has been going out with his gf. His story could almost be a copy of my own, but everything sorted itself out after several weeks. It was just an adjustment phase, I feel.
posted by wackybrit at 7:46 PM on January 10, 2006

I agree that anxiety and engrained masturbation habits are the most likely causes. Don't medicate yourself as long as there are other alternatives, such as temporary abstention (for you, not your girlfriend -- your hands and mouth work just fine, right?) and changing your masturbation habits.

If your girlfriend sleeps over and she's a morning person, see if you two agree that it would be fine for her to take full advantage of you and your morning erection even before you're fully awake. You might find you stay hard longer or even manage to come because the act was started while you weren't awake enough to get anxious.
posted by maudlin at 7:48 PM on January 10, 2006

Besides all the stop touching yourself, touch her more advice...have you tried putting a little lube inside the condom?
posted by nadawi at 7:52 PM on January 10, 2006

Cialis. You can do a gram, drink a 5th and still satisfy everyone.
posted by The Jesse Helms at 8:13 PM on January 10, 2006

There is plenty of good advice here, but IMHO, this is a psychological hurdle that you just have to power through. Seeing a therapist may be helpful, but then it might just spin up a passing mental tangle into a bigass ball of cotton candy.

notable advice that has not been rendered:
"The night of the fight, you may feel a slight sting. That's pride fucking with you. Fuck pride. Pride only hurts, it never helps. You gotta fight through that shit."

Seriously. You will get over this as soon as you let it go. You have no past experience to draw on for confidence, so it's going to be a leap of faith. But trust me, this has happened to many who've wandered far from virginity.
posted by scarabic at 8:22 PM on January 10, 2006

Several have said that this will sort itself out, but I would strongly caution you to not rely on that.

Firstly, your girlfriend might just decide to leave you if you're taking it too slow in getting it worked out, or uncommunicative. Sex is really important to some (most?) people.

Secondly, it's entirely possible to fall into a situation where you both just retreat from each other, and sex becomes a rarity. Granted, it's much more likely to just end altogether in a young relationship rather than go that way, but it could happen. I've seen it happen. It's more likely to happen if you both really feel for each other, but don't want to confront the problem. In which case, neither will want to end it over this, but you won't fix it, either.

This problem will only be fixed by you undertaking real work. If you just sort of cross your fingers, and hope it goes away, it may not at all. Many have offered good advice, but I still think it is important to get the advice of a professional (a doctor to 100% rule out any physical issues and give you advice on medication, and a therapist to best give you the tools you need to figure out any mental issues).
posted by teece at 8:29 PM on January 10, 2006

If you are using a condom as protection, try Kimono MicroThins. They're seriously the best EVAR, for both partners. [Sample size is small, but large enough to make a fair judgement... all women I know that have used these are very happy with them.

I also think that Viagra or something similar is a good idea- I have more than one friend that swears by it.
posted by exlotuseater at 8:53 PM on January 10, 2006

teece may have the final word in your case, but I find the answer itself alarming and probably liable to contribute to the problem. Alarm, itself, is the enemy.

Consulting a doctor won't hurt. It might even reassure you to find that your testosterone level is fine, your EKG is normal, etc. So perhaps that's not bad advice. If anyone can tell you whether or not this is purely psychosomatic, it's probably your GP.

But I still think that resorting to psychotherapy now is premature. I think a few more creative nights like your first, where you just do what it takes to muddle through (and ultimately succeed, as you did) is the remedy. Don't run to the PsyD establishment before at least trying a little more. You don't want to have to depend on that pack of bastards.
posted by scarabic at 9:31 PM on January 10, 2006

There might be some useful advice in this tangentially related thread. Have you considered masturbating with her, or for her? It might be less anxiety-producing.
posted by mediareport at 9:47 PM on January 10, 2006

I also think scarabic's advice is good, upon reflection. Hopefully this thread has given you some good ideas, and you can now go to your partner and make this problem go away. It may be all you needed.

But whatever you do, don't just ignore the problem. If you start avoiding sex, you need to find some other angle of attack. Just don't hope it will fix itself, because there is no guarantee.

No stress! If it's not physical, it's entirely surmountable. Hell, even if it is physical, it might be surmountable.
posted by teece at 9:57 PM on January 10, 2006

My sympathies. I've had intermittent attacks of this issue throughout my life - always when beginning a new sexual relationship (although not, thankfully, every time). It's almost certainly anxiety and it will probably pass with time and understanding. If it doesn't you should probably get checked for physical issues but I'd be willing to bet it's anxiety-based. Also, ignore those who say that wanking makes the problem worse, that's bull. If you feel horny enough to wank that's a good sign and it means your libido is fine. Anxiety erection problems are about psychology, not mechanics.

Re the condom problem: I have that too. To this day (I'm 46) I've successfully managed to get a condom on and stay hard enough to have sex precisely twice in my whole life. This is probably some deep-seated psychological thing which becomes a vicious circle: once you've had it happen once you worry about it happening the next time and nothing kills a boner like that sort of worry. It's actually a recognised medical issue and not, as some people rather heartlessly suggest, men being sneaky in trying to avoid having to bag the beast.

I was lucky enough to have been a teen/early-twentier before AIDS became an issue, then I was celibate for four years and then I got married. Since my divorce I've had one of my rare condom successes and then I started my current relationship. So it hasn't been too much of an issue for me, but I do feel for guys in your position. I think that just like the "first night droop" thing it takes understanding and patience from a partner to get over it. But, if I'm right in suspecting that your situation is about anxiety, the good news is that once you do have success it tends to stick and the problem doesn't recur.
posted by Decani at 6:52 AM on January 11, 2006

I had similar problems with condoms- I'd be bopping along just fine, put the condom on, and bam! all limp and noodly like I just jumped into cold water. The solution? My partner bought me larger-sized condoms. I never thought of myself as *ahem* the kind of dude who would need a little extra room, but it made all the difference in the world.

Now if someone would just make a thin, larger-sized condom...
posted by bobot at 7:15 AM on January 11, 2006

If you're 23 and just losing your virginity, I'll go out on an limb and assume you've been masturbating for some time now. No offense, I'd imagine myself doing the same thing in your shoes.

Not in the shoes! On the back!
posted by ed\26h at 7:18 AM on January 11, 2006

scarabic: Don't run to the PsyD establishment before at least trying a little more. You don't want to have to depend on that pack of bastards.

Pack of bastards? Jeez, scarabic, if you weren't a Metafilter celebrity with all kinds of virtual capital, I'd tell *you* a thing or two!
posted by jasper411 at 8:36 AM on January 11, 2006

Do everything in your mortal power to (intelligently) get the fuck rid of the condoms. They ruin sex, basically.

Sex with a condom feels like an annoying masturbation session where you can never get off. It also ruins the intimacy, in my opinion.

Don't be stupid and go for a pull-out method. Get her on BC, more clget tested for STDs, and enjoy how much closer you feel to her during sex.
posted by cellphone at 9:57 AM on January 11, 2006

Uh, some words were hilighted and accidentally moved. that should be "BC, get tested"
posted by cellphone at 9:58 AM on January 11, 2006

From a doctor's perspective:

This is unbelievably common. Incredibly so.

You. are. normal.

You just don't have the comforting perpective of confessionals from your male peers.

If you were able to see a doctor that you could talk to openly, he/she would take a look at your parts, get a good history, and counsel you. And maybe medication has a role here, maybe not. But you are the victim of your own brain, which means you are a healthy, normal person.

Any way you can relax and take off the pressure of penetration, any way you can have three or four good hard-ons and a subsequent orgasm, and you'll be on your way. And condoms are critical, but definitely make this worse. I second/third the suggestions to use talk, etc. to heighten the mood/arousal, because it's also a distraction.
posted by docpops at 12:57 PM on January 11, 2006

bobot - Durex Avanti, large AND thin. VERY thin.

length: 180mm
width: 64mm
thickness: 0.04mm
posted by lemonfridge at 5:09 PM on January 11, 2006

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