Healthy lives for young people
Sex

Erections and staying hard

Most men have problems getting or staying hard at some point in their lives and it doesn’t necessarily mean a loss of interest in sex or that there is something wrong. Most of the time, erectile problems are due to stress and are temporary.

It’s normal for erections to come and go during sex. Porn often shows guys going on for a very long time. Don’t compare yourself to this because most of the time it doesn’t show how real sex works.

But if you or someone you know can never get an erection (even during the night or when you wake up), then consider going to see the GP or a sexual health clinic because something else may be wrong.

Things that affect erections

Things that affect erections include:

  • Stress. Stress caused by any reason can affect your sex life
  • Performance anxiety. Nerves or stress during sex where you feel anxious about pleasing the other person can cause erection problems. Also, worrying about penis size or about keeping an erection can also make you anxious
  • Worrying. Worrying about times in the past where you haven’t been able to get an erection can make it hard to stay hard
  • Pressure. Putting pressure on yourself to stay hard can have the opposite effect and actually make it more difficult to stay hard
  • Alcohol and drugs. These can all have a bad effect on erections
  • Illness or tiredness. Illness, tiredness or depression can all have a bad effect.

Erection problems: things to try

When masturbating, try focusing on the sensations you are feeling. When you get hard, let your erection go down. Try masturbating till you get hard and let it go down again. This may help you become more aware of how your body reacts to different sensations and help you keep your erection.

Most erection problems are related to how you think about erections. Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Think of the times when you’ve found it difficult to keep an erection. Why was it difficult? Were you drunk? With someone you weren’t that attracted to? In a situation where you were rushed or under pressure?
  2. What was going through your head at these times? Were there any thoughts that made you feel bad? Like, ‘I’m not going to be able to stay hard’, ‘I’m a failure’, ‘they’re going to think I’m no good at sex’
  3. And how were you feeling? Were you feeling relaxed and happy or stressed and worried?

Now do the same for the times where you have been able to keep erections. Do you notice any differences between the times where it’s been easy or hard?

Other things you can do. If you find you worry during sex about your erection, try taking deep breaths to relax yourself, really focus on the fun that you’re having and remember the times when you’ve had good enjoyable sex and been able to stay hard. If you can, talking to a partner can help by making it less stressful.

If you want more information on dealing with erection problems, a good book is: ‘Overcoming sexual problems’ by Vicki Ford.

You can also see your GP or visit a sexual health clinic such as Brook for more information.

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