Why am I experiencing dfficulty maintaining an erection?

A few years ago I was making love to my wife when for no known reason I lost my erection,

Now I'm In my early 30s and my problem has become more and more frequent. This is causing major problems for my ego and it's diminishing my self esteem. This has resulted in ongoing depression and tearing apart my marriage.

I am devastated and cannot find a cause for these issues. I am very attracted to my wife and want to express it in the bedroom like I used to.

What could be causing this, and what can I do about it?

Sherry Katz, LCSW
Sherry Katz, LCSW
Couples and Family Therapist, LCSW

First step always is to do a medical rule out so that you're sure the problem is psychological and emotion based, not a medical condition which requires care and attention.

If you are medically clear in the reasons for losing your erection, then reflect on what may be creating a loss in confidence in either who you are and what you're doing with your life, or whether your wife has these sort of problems within herself.

Often a problem transfers ownership of who shows it.

If you are a sensitive person its possible your erection problem reflects your wife's insecurities and self-doubt.  If she is someone who is reluctant to talk about feeling unsure then in a certain way by you showing a problem, she can avoid looking at herself.

There may not be a direct cause such as usually exists in a medical problem.

Medicine looks for symptoms to treat.

Our emotional lives are much more indirect.

If you feel stress at work or are unhappy in the place you live, for example, then your frustration may show up in your sex life.

Basically, do a broad inward search of your life and what it holds and maybe ask your wife to do the same.

You may clear the air within yourselves and between each other so the problem goes away.

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Kelly Mulroy, LMHC, NCC, DCC
Kelly Mulroy, LMHC, NCC, DCC
Clinical Hypnosis and Psychotherapy
When I'm working with men with this type of situation, I always suggest a medical examination to rule out any type of organic reason for a difficulty in maintaining interaction. In cases where there is no medical reason for the loss of erection, I find that many men have a similar situation in experiencing negative intrusive thinking during lovemaking. My counseling approach for this situation is to incorporate the use of mindful sex.
The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Marissa Talarico
Marissa Talarico
Sex and Relationship counseling

For starters, know that this is a normal experience for many men at some point in their lives. While this can certainly cause some embarrassment, a diminished sexual esteem or relationship problems, it is important to know you are not alone. I am going to move forward assuming that you have already checked with a medical professional to rule out any medical problems that may be related to this. Assuming that is the case, for most this happens for two primary reasons. It is either a short term biological shortage of blood flow to the penis. This can be caused my diet, lack of exercise, even stress. Another primary reason for loss of erections are anxiety. Have their been recent relationship issues? Are you feeling as though you aren't satisfied in the bedroom? These are just a few aspects that can cause subconscious anxiety and loss of erection. My suggestion to you would be to seek out a counselor that specializes in sexuality that can assist you in moving forward with this.  Best of Luck!

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Pamela Suraci
Pamela Suraci
Build on your strengths, grow in your challenge areas and improve your life!

If you haven't already, please see a doctor.  ED can be caused by any number of physical conditions and you need to get checked out.  

Once you have ruled out any physical issues that interfere with getting an  erection, it's time to look for more subtle causes.  Unfortunately, you may have gotten yourself into a mind set of "I hope I can, but what if I can't?"  which is certain to interfere with performance.

Again, rule out physical causes (can you tell I think that's important?), then talk with your wife about working  together to find the right approach.  It might be a good idea, for example, to take the pressure off by enjoying each other without intercourse.  You can have great sex without penetration and you can have physical intimacy without sex, so slow down and experiment.  You might find more pleasure than you expect when you can relax knowing there doesn't have to be a "finish line".

Again, yes the  third time, SEE A DOCTOR, just in case there's something going  on.  Once you get the all clear, find joy and spontaneity with your wife again by being creative and pressure free.

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Martin Hsia, Psy.D.
Martin Hsia, Psy.D.
OCD, Anxiety, and Insomnia Specialist

Assuming there are no medical explanations for this issue, many men I've worked with on this come to see it as essentially a form of Anxiety. There is a phenomenon called the Yerkes Dodson Law (see below; source: Wikipedia), which basically states that if we feel either too much or too little stress, pressure, or nervousness about a task, it will adversely impact our ability to do carry it out successfully. 


The ideal amount of stress/arousal is right in the middle - not too little and not too much. This applies to more things than we might often realize - from giving a presentation, to ordering food, to making a free throw, to driving, to sexual intimacy as in this case. A common suggestion that many men find helpful is initiating open and honest conversations with their partners about this issue, and for a temporary period of time, agreeing to physical intimacy and sexual pleasure in other forms, and without the expectation of intercourse. There are many ways to go about that (which are outside the scope of this blog article), but this can be a path to connecting intimately and renewing physical bonding without unhelpful anxiety - and over time, can lead back to intimacy in all the ways that have become elusive. Best of luck.

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide.   If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.

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