Why Do Men Lose Their Erections During Sex? We Asked the Experts!

Most in society today would have you believe that erections are the key to mind-blowing sex. I mean, how else is a man supposed to penetrate a woman without one?

It’s like trying to fit a wet noodle, instead of a key, into a locked door. It just doesn’t work.

And there is some truth to that. Maintaining an erection during sex definitely makes it easier to penetrate and please your partner.

But what if you just can’t keep it up while doing the deed or, worse yet, you can’t even get hard to start having sex? Then you may suffer from erectile dysfunction.

Erectile dysfunction. Just the sound of those two words is enough to send a guy into a panic. It’s the silent fear that every man has – that one day he will no longer be able to perform.

It’s the fear that his partner will leave him for a man who can give her what she needs.

It’s the fear that he is no longer a man.

And it’s why so much money has been spent on creating and marketing drugs to combat this issue because it’s such a scary and taboo topic.

No man wants to think of himself as flaccid or soft. That’ just soul crushing.

It’s More Common Than You Think

You’re in the thick of it. You’re balls deep and she’s clawing at your back. You’re both sweaty and she’s moaning and then, all of the sudden, it happens.

Your boner dies. You go limp. You’re flaccid. You’ve lost your erection in the midst of sex.

It’s embarrassing, it’s frustrating, and it’s actually more common than you might think. In fact, according to a recent study, as many as one in three men will experience it at some point in their younger lives while it becomes even more common as we age.

So, what gives? We spoke to an expert to find out.

What Is an Erection Anyways?

An erection is a hardening of the penis that occurs when blood fills the tissues in the penis. Usually, an erection occurs as a result of sexual arousal, but it can also occur in response to nonsexual stimuli, such as images or sounds.

Dr. Michael Patterson, a practicing urologist and contributor to the The Hardness Factor, explains that an erection is “a hydraulic event resulting from the filling of sponge-like bodies within the penis with blood.”

“When aroused, the brain signals the release of nitric oxide into the pelvic region. This then triggers a chain reaction, causing the arteries to open wider and the smooth muscle cells to relax. This increased blood flow fills two chambers inside the penis, called the corpora cavernosa. As the chambers fill with blood, the penis becomes longer, thicker, and harder,” explains Dr. Patterson.

The scrotum (the loose sac of skin that contains the testicles) usually moves upward and the testicles swell as they are pulled closer to the body.

Erections usually happen when blood vessels in the penis open up, allowing more blood flow into the penis.

“The arteries that carry blood into the penis are usually larger than the veins that allow blood to flow out of the penis,” says Patterson, “the result is that more blood flows into the penis than flows out. This increase in blood flow causes the penis to expand and harden.”

Patterson goes on to say that, “it’s important to remember that erections are not caused by the penis itself, but by the nervous system.”

In other words, an erection is not something that a man consciously controls. It’s an involuntary reaction to sexual arousal.

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More Mental Than Physical

According to Patterson, for the most part, erectile dysfunction is not a physical issue. The vast majority of cases of erectile dysfunction are actually mental.

“Most men with erectile dysfunction don’t have a physically damaged penis. The main problem is usually psychological,” Patterson says.

Performance Anxiety

“Most of the time, it’s the anxiety of performing that’s the issue. It’s the fear of not being able to maintain an erection and being embarrassed in front of their partner.”

If suffering from performance anxiety, your mind is usually racing with all sorts of thoughts:

“What if I can’t keep it up?”

“What if I cum too early?”

“What if she doesn’t like what she sees?”

All of these worries take your focus off of the task at hand and make it difficult to get or maintain an erection.

This anxiety can cause a man to tense up and lose focus on the task at hand, which leads to less than stellar performance.

And this isn’t just Patterson’s opinion. research has shown that performance anxiety is the number one cause of erectile dysfunction.

If you’re sure it’s not performance anxiety, there are several other psychological factors as well.

Here are some of the most common reasons for losing an erection during sex, as explained by Dr. Michael Patterson:

1. Relationship Problems

A very common psychological reason for losing an erection during sex is relationship problems. If you’re worried about your relationship or whether or not your partner is attracted to you, it can definitely affect your ability to get and keep an erection.

These relationship problems can be caused by a number of things, such as feeling like your partner is more interested in someone else, feeling like your relationship is going through a rough patch, or feeling like you’re not as attracted to your partner as you used to be.

2. Body Image Issues

Body image issues can also be blamed for losing an erection during sex. If you’re not comfortable with your body or you’re worried about how you look, it can make it difficult to get and keep an erection.

These body image issues can be caused by a number of things, such as thinking you’re too overweight, not feeling comfortable with your penis size, or feeling like you have a low libido.

3. Stress

Stress is another extremely common psychological reason for losing an erection during sex. If you’re feeling stressed out about any aspect of your life, it can make it difficult to focus on sex and get an erection.

This stress can be caused by a number of things, such as work stress, relationship stress, financial stress, or any other type of stress.

4. Depression

Depression, which usually comes with stress and anxiety, is another psychological reason for losing an erection during sex. If you’re depressed, you may lose interest in sex altogether, which makes getting and keeping an erection almost impossible.

This depression can be caused by a number of things, such as low self-esteem, feelings of worthlessness, or difficulty enjoying activities you used to enjoy.

Physical Reasons for Losing an Erection

Dr. Patterson explains that, while is usually mental problems that cause erection loss, there are a variety of physiological reasons for why a man may lose his erection during sex as well. The top reasons being:

1. Hormonal Reasons

 

chart of testosterone levels at different ages

Dr. Patterson explains that “hormones play a big role in erections.”

Patterson continues, “Testosterone is the hormone most associated with libido and erections. But other hormones, like cortisol, can also affect erections. Cortisol is a stress hormone, and high levels of it can interfere with sexual performance.”

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So if you’re under a lot of stress, it can impact your ability to get or maintain an erection.

It’s not just stress, though. There are other hormone-related issues that can lead to erectile dysfunction.

For example, low levels of thyroid hormone can cause problems with sexual function. And if you have an overactive thyroid, that can also lead to erectile issues.

Problems with your adrenal glands can also lead to sexual dysfunction.

If you think it could be hormonal, it very important to contact your doctor and schedule a checkup says Dr. Patterson, “it could be a sign of underlying issues that are far more serious.”

2. Diabetes

Diabetes can cause erectile dysfunction in a few different ways. First, high blood sugar levels can damage your blood vessels, making it difficult to get or maintain an erection.

Second, diabetes can cause nerve damage, which can lead to erectile dysfunction. And finally, diabetes can lead to low testosterone levels, which can also cause erectile dysfunction.

3. High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure can also damage the blood vessels and nerves that are essential for erections. This can lead to erectile dysfunction.

4. Heart Disease

Heart disease is another common cause of erectile dysfunction. That’s because heart disease can damage your blood vessels, making it difficult to get or maintain an erection. Heart disease can also cause low testosterone levels, which can lead to erectile dysfunction.

5. Obesity

Obesity can cause erectile dysfunction in a few different ways. First, carrying around extra weight can lead to low testosterone levels.

Second, obesity can cause vascular problems that make it difficult to get or maintain an erection. And finally, being overweight can lead to diabetes, which can also cause erectile dysfunction.

6. Sleep Disorders

Sleep disorders like insomnia and sleep apnea can lead to erectile dysfunction. That’s because these disorders can cause fatigue, which can lead to performance anxiety and difficulty getting or maintaining an erection.

7. Injury

An injury to the penis, pelvic area, or spinal cord can cause erectile dysfunction. This is because these injuries can damage the nerves and blood vessels that are necessary for an erection.

8. Age

Age is the most common cause of erectile dysfunction. As you age, your body produces less testosterone, and your blood vessels become less elastic. These two factors can lead to erectile dysfunction.

Other Common Reasons for Losing an Erection

Many times, there are other, more trivial reasons for losing an erection during sex explains Dr. Patterson. A few of those reasons are:

1. You’re Trying to Rush Things

If you’re focused on finishing rather than enjoying the journey, you may inadvertently tense up your body and lose your erection.

2. You’re Not Really into Your Partner

It’s difficult to get aroused if you’re not really into the person you’re with. Maybe you’re not physically attracted to them or there’s just no connection. Either way, it can be tough to get and keep an erection.

3. You’re Drunk or High

Ever heard of “Whiskey Dick” or “Scotch Crotch”?

While a little bit of alcohol or other drugs may help you relax, too much can actually lead to erectile dysfunction.

That’s because alcohol and drugs can affect your nervous system, which can make it difficult to get or maintain an erection.

6. You’re Just Tired

It’s tough to get aroused when you’re exhausted. So, if you’re tired, it may lead to difficulties achieving or maintaining an erection.

7. You’re Distracted

Yea. Life can be pretty distracting sometime. Even when you’re trying to get it on.

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It’s hard to focus on sex when you’re thinking about other things. Maybe you’re worrying about work, school, or other problems. Or, maybe you’re just not in the mood. Either way, if you’re distracted, it can lead to difficulties getting or keeping an erection.

8. You’re Sick

If you’re not feeling well, it can be hard to get or keep an erection. That’s because being sick can affect your energy levels, your mood, your hormones and even your stress levels.

10. You’re taking Certain Medications

This is a big one. There are a lot of medications that can cause erectile dysfunction as a side effect. These include:

  • Antidepressants
  • Blood pressure medicines (especially beta-blockers)
  • Heart medicines, such as digoxin
  • Sleeping pills
  • Some peptic ulcer medicines
  • Hair loss treatments

What To Do About Erection Loss

If you keep losing erections during sex, Dr. Patterson says it’s important to visit a doctor to find out the cause. It could be a sign of an underlying health condition, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or low testosterone.

Your doctor can help you treat the underlying cause of your erectile dysfunction and help you find ways to keep your erections during sex.

There are also a number of things you can do on your own to improve your erections and stamina.

  1. Make sure you are getting enough exercise. Physical activity promotes blood flow to the penis, which can help you maintain an erection.
  2. Eat a healthy diet. A healthy diet helps to improve blood flow to the penis.
  3. Try supplements. Nitric Oxide boosters can work wonders.
  4. Quit smoking. Smoking damages the blood vessels and can lead to erectile dysfunction.
  5. Reduce stress. Stress can interfere with sexual arousal and cause erectile dysfunction.
  6. Try relaxation techniques. progressive muscle relaxation or meditation can help to reduce stress and improve sexual function.
  7. Use a condom. Condoms can help to prevent erectile dysfunction by trapping blood in the penis.
  8. Buy a cock ring. Cock rings work wonders for keeping erections. They work by restricting the blood leaving your penis.
  9. Talk to your partner. If anxiety about sexual performance is causing erectile dysfunction, talking to your partner can help to ease these fears.
  10. Get help if you’re struggling with mental health. Mental health conditions like anxiety and depression can cause erectile dysfunction. If you’re struggling, talk to your doctor or a mental health professional.

Your Partner Will Understand

If you’re suffering from erectile dysfunction, the first thing you need to do is talk to your partner about it.

“The primary worries my patients have, that are suffering from ED, is the damage they think it is doing to their relationship and what their partners think of them,” says Dr. Patterson.

It’s not easy to open up about this issue. You may feel embarrassed, ashamed, or like you’re less of a man.

But your partner will appreciate your openness and honesty. After all, they are the ones who are suffering from your erectile dysfunction as well. They may feel like they are to blame or that they are not attractive enough to keep you aroused.

So, sit down with your partner and explain to them what is going on. Tell them that it’s not their fault and that you’re still attracted to them.

Then, together, come up with a plan to address the issue. This may involve seeing a doctor, trying a different medication, or making lifestyle changes.

Whatever you do, don’t try to hide your erectile dysfunction from your partner. It will only make things worse in the long run.

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