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How can I stay hard for our first time?

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Jay asks:

I am a 21 year old guy and I am a virgin. So is my girlfriend. We wanted to wait until we were 21.

We were planing on having sex for the first time last week. The night we tried it, I was very aroused and hard right up until it was time for me to enter her. As soon as I was ready to go in, I lost my erection. Realizing that we couldn't complete the act, we gave each other manual orgasms. (As soon as that started, I got very erect again). Every time we try to have sex I have the same problem. I am hard right before, I can get hard right after, but not when it counts. What can I do to avoid this? Should I drink a little alcohol before to loosen up? Take pills? Any advice will be helpful.

Heather Corinna replies:

Jay: the thing about alcohol and sex is that, for some people, a little does tend to make relaxing a bit easier, but at a certain point (amount of drink), which varies for people based on their own individual chemistries and tolerance, it actually inhibits arousal, erection, and sexual performance. On top of that, even when you're legal to drink, it isn't advisable overall to mix drugs or alcohol with sex.

I know, I know, that's a helluva thing to say, since people do it all the time (myself included). But it has been very clearly shown to create some real problems in terms of not just performance, but safety and judgment (a majority of date rapes occur with booze in the mix, for instance), so we can pretty clearly say it's best to approach sex sober.

Sounds to me like, for sure, your nerves aren't being kind to you, and that's utterly normal, especially when intercourse is brand new. One thing that might help is to take any pressure off of yourself -- coming from yourself and/or your partner -- to keep an erection or to have intercourse. Since, ultimately, it doesn't matter overmuch HOW we achieve sexual satisfaction, it can be helpful to bear that in mind and not make it a HUGE deal whether intercourse happens or not. Arousal is a mental endeavor, so when the pressure's on, it often turns our arousal off.

One other suggestion I might make is your partner being in the driver's seat a bit: for instance, in an evening you want to attempt intercourse, you might do whatever it is that gets you both excited (like the mutual manual sex, for instance), and with you on the bottom, have her put on your condom, and get on top when it feels like a good time. Sometimes, one pressure a guy can feel is also the pressure to be in charge of the whole works. So, if you're feeling any of that, shifting how you both do things so it feels more like you're both in the driver's seat -- and you're not responsible for delivering the whole thing yourself -- might be of help to you, too.

written 20 Jun 2007 . updated 01 May 2008

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