Most men will experience erections problems at some stage during their life. In fact, erection problems will affect approximately 40% of men by the age of 40, and up to 70% of men by age 70.

For most men, the occasional loss of erection shouldn't be seen as anything more than a minor inconvenience. It's most likely caused by stress, distraction, too much alcohol or just generally feeling run down or not really in the mood for sex. In these cases the problem is nothing to worry about and things should soon resolve themselves.

If you have problems getting an erection for masturbation as well as for partner sex and you infrequently or never get morning erections, then the problem may be physical. It is important you visit your GP as causes can include diabetes, poor circulation, kidney problems and high cholesterol among other things.

If your erection problems are quite sudden and you only experience difficulties in partner sex then the problem is more likely to be psychological.

Common psychological issues

  • Stress and anxiety from work or home.
  • Problems within the relationship.
  • Worrying about pleasing a partner.
  • Depression.
  • Sexual boredom.
  • Performance anxiety.

Performance anxiety is probably the most common cause of erection problems. And for many men, even when the initial cause of the erection problem has passed, whether psychological or physical, the anxiety of repeated failure creates anxiety and it is this anxiety that blocks erection. Below are some simple self-help techniques that you might find useful:

Self help techniques

  • Talk to your partner - make sure you have their understanding and their support while you overcome this problem
  • Resolve any relationship issues before you get into the bedroom
  • Check out your lifestyle. Cut down on alcohol, give up smoking, make sure you're getting enough exercise and eating a healthy diet
  • Reduce stress - do whatever you can to minimise stress and anxiety
  • Relax - make sure you're making time in your schedule to relax and have fun, both alone and also as a couple.
  • Take time to enjoy being sensual as a couple before being sexual.
  • Enjoy a relaxing massage together without any expectations of sex.

Other sources of help

If after a few weeks the problems persist then you can make an appointment to see a sex therapist at your local Relate. A therapist will work with you alone, or you and your partner, whichever is most appropriate, to help you recognise and resolve any couple or psychological issues that are preventing you overcoming the problem. They will also set you a series of homework exercises that will help you to gain more control and confidence of your erections

How we can help

If you're worried about your sex life, there are various ways we can help.