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Heather Corinna replies:
First of all, let me say I'm impressed by your mission here. A lot of people's first sex would be improved with real sex ed. My particular problem concerns erectile dysfunction. I'm only 19, yet I've experienced this problem 4 times. I've read that this can occasionally happen even to younger guys, but the last two were consecutive and I'm worried about how patient my girlfriend is. Is there anything I can do for this particular problem, maybe drugs?
Hey Dan: thanks for the props. :)
ED drugs really aren't intended for younger men, nor for the occasional problem with ED. Rather, they're intended for a very persistent and ongoing problem, over time, and for older men who have ED for physical reasons due to aging or another medical condition (like diabetes).
I know, I know, "This happens to guys sometimes," is a tired phrase, but the truth is that it does, and that sometimes is often more than once every few years. Even if it happens once every few times you go to have intercourse, that's still within the realm of normal.
In fact, it happens to girls sometimes, too. Ten bucks says your girlfriend's anatomy doesn't always cooperate when she wants sex, either -- maybe her clitoris isn't enlarging the way it does on other days, maybe she isn't self-lubricating as much on one day as she did the day before, maybe her vaginal opening is loosening from arousal just fine Tuesday, but on Thursday, her arousal levels just aren't high enough to make that happen, or she's so distracted by something else, she just isn't getting fully aroused. She also may not reach orgasm every time. I bring that up because it's so often overlooked: since a lot of women go ahead and allow sex anyway, even when their stuff isn't doing what it should be to make sex very enjoyable, it's often assumed things always "work" for women and their bodies always cooperate, just because it's possible for women to have certain kinds of sex even when the ducks aren't in a row, even if it isn't highly pleasurable.
ED happening now and then really is normal. There are so many factors that have to be in alignment for an erection or to sustain one, that to expect them all to be in line every time sex is an option is a pretty unrealistic expectation. It's also normal to have consecutive issues if you had it happen once, and then the next time sex is an option, you worry it'll happen again: that distress alone can be a pretty big barrier to full arousal and erection. Other common culprits and contributors to ED are alcohol or drug use, illness or depression, or even just being tired.
If it's not happening when you're alone, but only with a partner, there's no reason to presume it to be a physical issue in need of medication. (If, on the other hand, it IS happening when you're alone, too, then by all means, feel free to have a chat with your doctor.)
Your best bet is to accept this happening now and then as normal and human, and to do what you can to get rid of as much of your worry about it as you can. Worry, stress and anxiety are the biggest buzzkills to arousal (and thus, erection) that there are, so if you get your head in knots about this, it's likely to have exactly the effect you want to avoid. If you can relax about it -- and make sure that you and your partner both are on the same page per understanding that neither of you should be expected to have minds or bodies that are rarin' to go for a given kind of sex all the time, at any time -- and go with whatever the flow is on a given day, things will get better. You're both more likely to get and sustain an erection that way, and on the times that you don't, then it's no big deal.
There are an awful lot of ways to have sex, and only a few of them require erection.
You don't have to worry about your girlfriend losing patience, because she, too, should have realistic expectations about erection, and you and she can do other sexual activities which are fulfilling for her when you don't have one going on. Intercourse as the main course of a sex life is usually pretty blah for most folks, anyway, and most women really are not going to be seriously bummed about exploring other things unless they (mistakenly) figure that whether you're erect or not is about THEM or their sexual appeal. In other words, if you think she's seeming very frustrated about this, it might be time for a chat, and I'd include some discussion about the fact that whether or not you're erect isn't about whether or not you want her or find her attractive. Sure, that's part of it, but only one part of many, and we can be super-attracted to someone and VERY much want to have sex with them, but other factors can still supercede that when it comes to if your bodies cooperate.
So, why not look at times when erection isn't happening as an opportunity, rather than a problem? When and if that happens again, then consider it a time to explore other things and other ways of having sex and being physically intimate which you might not otherwise, or which you might not spend as much time with when you do have an erection and you both do want intercourse?
So, just hang in there, chill out about it, and for more information, have a lookie here: