I can't get hard

Penises come in all shapes and sizes and so do erections. Most people experience erection problems at some stage during their life. Most of the time, the occasional loss of erection is normal and not usually anything more than a minor inconvenience. 

But stress and anxiety from work or home, relationship problems, ‘performance’ anxiety, sexual boredom and alcohol and drug use can result in your penis not responding as you‘d like. Unrealistic expectations of your penis can result in heightened anxiety that in turn adds to the original problem.

Some people use masturbation as a way of relaxing and relieving every day stress and tensions as well as a response to feeling sexual, with or without a partner. If you find you start having problems getting or maintaining an erection for masturbation as well as with a partner, it may be an idea to get checked out by your GP. They will probably ask you when you first noticed the difficulty, whether you’re getting morning erections and may run some tests to identify if there are any physical issues that might need to be addressed. Lots of medical problems that impact on sexual relationships can be helped by a combination of medication and perhaps speaking with a sex therapist

Sexual problems are sometimes a complex mix of physical and psychological factors. Some problems can be very easily addressed.

Talk to your partner

Talking together about any erection problems can be reassuring to a partner especially if they are feeling rejected. You may be wondering if you’re stuck in a routine so it’s worth talking together about what you both feel it may be helpful to change.

Take time to enjoy each other

Remember that sex is not necessarily about penetration. By focusing on or exploring other sensual activities together you can help make sure that your sexual relationship doesn’t become stale.

Look at your lifestyle

Getting more exercise, eating and drinking healthily, managing the work/life balance, getting enough sleep, relaxing and having fun can all ease the pressure on your penis. Try and cut down or even stop smoking.

Consider your health

We may all experience physical and mental health problems sometimes. These can be brief or sometimes more prolonged and serious. Some conditions and medications can affect how you function sexually. It can be helpful to explore with your GP the best ways of responding to and managing any symptoms and effects of medication that may affect your erection and libido. Medication can affect people differently and it may be possible to swap to something else that has less impact on sexual functioning. Always talk with your GP if you would like to make changes. 

Getting older 

How things work sexually can change over time. What worked well when you were much younger may need to vary or change now. Being realistic about what's possible means you’re more likely to enjoy different sensual and sexual experiences that may not necessarily rely on penetration as the ultimate outcome. 

Of course, serious health problems can naturally take the focus away from being sexual or sensual with a partner or with yourself. This is a common result of intensive treatment and or prolonged illness. It’s important to find your own way forward and talking openly with a partner and maybe a sex therapist  or a counsellor who works specifically with that particular health issue about what’s happening may be helpful. 

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