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Most people with penises will have problems getting or staying hard at some point in their lives. It doesn’t necessarily mean a loss of interest in sex or that there is something wrong. Most of the time, these difficulties are due to stress and are temporary.
An erection is when the spongy tissue of the penis fills with blood and becomes hard. Erections can happen if you are thinking about or experiencing something arousing, and also if erogenous zones are stimulated.
It’s normal for erections to come and go during sex. When having any kind of sex with someone, there can be pressure to maintain an erection, but in reality penises are soft most of the time, and erections can fluctuate during sex, regardless of how aroused you are.
There is no need to feel bad about not having an erection, because it is natural, and there are lots of ways to have sex which don’t require an erect penis. It’s important to remember that erections are not the only indicator of whether sex is enjoyable for you or your partner(s) – the best way to know if someone is enjoying sex is to listen to them and, if you’re not sure, ask. Read more about sex here.
Erections and porn
Porn is often not representative of how most people’s penises look or function; they are often much bigger than average, and the videos may give the impression that the actors are able to sustain an erection for a very long time and can last a long time before orgasming. For most people, this is not how their penises work, so while it can be tempting to compare your penis to those of actors in porn, this can be harmful for your self-esteem and understanding of how to have healthy sex and relationships. In reality, porn actors are not necessarily staying erect/hard for the whole shoot. They will often have breaks and may need help getting or maintaining an erection during filming.
There a lots of things that can affect erections. Many people find that difficulties getting or staying hard happen at times when they are experiencing stress or pressure in their lives, and that these difficulties go away when other things in their life change.
However, if you find that you are regularly having difficulty maintaining erections, often referred to as ‘erectile dysfunction’, and this is affecting your mental health then you may want to seek help. Erectile dysfunction can have various causes, including medical and psychological reasons. If you are concerned, you can speak to your GP, a counsellor or a trusted adult.
Some things that can affect erections include:
What can I do?
If you find you worry about your erection during sex, try taking deep breaths to relax yourself and really focus on the fun that you’re having. Talking to your partner can help by making it less stressful. This also allows you to explore your likes and dislikes, making the whole experience more enjoyable for everyone involved. You can also see your GP or visit a sexual health clinic such as Brook for more information.
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