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What Does It Mean If I Lose My Erection During Sex?

Jul. 30, 2014
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I’m a 28-year-old virgin (technically). Last evening, I tried having sex for the first time and maintained a decent erection throughout the oral play. However, as soon as my penis went inside her vagina, I lost the erection. I’m a hopeless romantic at heart, but when it comes to sex, I’m such a big disappointment. Could the reason for my loss of erection be erectile dysfunction or something else?

It breaks my heart that you describe yourself as a “disappointment!” Like anything else in life, sex is a learned skill. Good sex takes practice, and no one gets it perfect the first time they do anything, whether they’re trying vaginal sex, oral sex, anal sex, spanking, bondage, whatever. It takes trial and error to figure out how to do these things in a way that pleases you and your partner—a lot of trials and a lot of errors. Please don’t feel bad that your first attempt at vaginal penetration did not go as planned.

Losing an erection when switching from one type of sexual activity to another is not uncommon. In fact, in one of my previous columns Sex, Erections and Frustration, I answer a question from a reader who describes a situation very similar to yours. Earlier this year, a couple wrote in to say that they had no problem with erections during vaginal sex, but anal sex posed a challenge. You are not alone, and my responses to these readers might be helpful to you.

I don’t think this is an “erectile dysfunction” issue as it’s usually defined. If you are able to achieve and maintain an erection in some situations (oral sex, masturbation) but not in others (vaginal penetration), the issue is probably psychological rather than physical. Our mental and emotional states definitely affect our sexual performance. You describe yourself as a “hopeless romantic”—have you built up the idea of vaginal sex as an important expression of love or affection? Do you have a lot of anxiety about pleasing a partner? These emotions and beliefs about sex can absolutely have an impact on whether or not you maintain an erection.

Talking about sex with your partner or a counselor might be most helpful in this situation. Discussing the root of any anxiety, nervousness, guilt or other emotions that you are feeling about vaginal sex may resolve the problem.

Laura Anne Stuart has a master’s degree in public health and has worked as a sexuality educator for more than a decade. She owns the Tool Shed, an erotic boutique on Milwaukee’s East Side. During her time off to focus on Tool Shed, the Shepherd Express will be running the best of her advice columns from previous years.


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