I CAN'T STAY HARD
This feels super embarrassing, but here it goes. I'm not even 30 yet and I've been having a difficult time staying hard when I go to have sex. This has been going on for the last few years, but in the last couple months it seems to have gotten worse than ever before. In the past it was just sort of random, I'd be with a hook-up or something and it just wouldn't happen. More recently it's been pretty much every time I go to have sex. I can usually get hard to begin with, but maintaining it is the real problem. It doesn't matter if I'm getting head or trying to f***, it just slowly goes down. It's gotten so bad that I've just stopped having sex all together. I still jerk off, and that's fine. For whatever reason when I'm by myself I don't have the same issue. I've used Viagra, which I got from a friend, and it worked, but I don't want to start taking erection drugs so young. What's wrong with me?
Having a form of erectile dysfunction can be extremely distressing for some men; in fact, the fact that it’s distressing is what makes it a dysfunction and not just annoying. Although most men do not self-report having issues with getting or maintaining an erection, at any given time approximately 10-15% of men are suffering with some type of erectile difficulty. Luckily, there are tons of options for treatment that go beyond Viagra.
Masters and Johnson argued that most sexual problems are due to ignorance, bad technique, or relationship problems. Granted, they were referring to sexual problems within a relationship, but you are in a relationship with yourself, so I think some of the same examples can apply. First, I’m wondering how well you know the people you’re choosing to have sex with. CBT would ask you to check in on the thoughts you’re having when you go to have sex with someone. Before the interaction even starts, are you already thinking about your ability to maintain a hard on? When you’re beginning to engage are you thinking about if you can get hard? When you are not physically responding are you beginning to beat yourself up over not being able to get hard enough? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then CBT may be a really effective treatment for you. Through CBT you can learn to restructure your thoughts so that you’re not so focused on getting hard and beating yourself up. It’s possible that cutting some of these negative thoughts out may bring down your anxiety level and allow you to enjoy sensations more.
Second, you said that you don’t have a problem getting and maintaining an erection when you are alone, that it’s only when someone new is brought into the picture. Some people are able to have sex with anyone and have no issue with erections, but not everyone. It’s possible that what you’re craving is a deeper connection with someone. There are a couple things here that might be helpful for you should you decide to have sex with someone that you have more feelings for: 1) you may be able to talk to that person about the issues you’re facing, simply talking about it can make it less scary; 2) you could attempt going slow and allow a large amount of foreplay, this includes just touching each other gently and enjoying the sensations; 3) don’t make the goal of the sex about you getting an erection. There are a million things you can do in bed that don’t require actual insertion. If you don’t view your erection as the “main attraction” then you can allow other experiences to happen that are not dependent on the appearance of the erection.
Third, go to a doctor and discuss what might be going on for you physiologically. It’s completely possible that there is something going on that requires some attention from a physician.
Best of luck,