"When it's persistent and consistent, it's extremely likely to have biological factors" regardless of age, Dr. Irwin Goldstein, director of sexual medicine at Alvarado Hospital in San Diego and the director of San Diego Sexual Medicine, told Mic. But the cause of ED can also be psychological: For instance, if a man can get an erection on his own but not with a partner, then his ED is more likely to be rooted in performance anxiety or a deeper psychological issue.
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A very stressful or intense situation, or performance anxiety, could definitely make a man lose his erection. The pressure to perform could be psychologically too intense to keep a strong one. Another, lesser talked about erection killer is difficulty penetrating a partner during sex. It’s related to performance anxiety and stress, but also fatigue. If sex becomes tiring, fatigue will bring a quick end to an otherwise great night.
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It’s important not to take a bout of psychological ED personally. Still, when confronting a suddenly soft penis in the moment, “It’s not you” can be hard to believe. For instance, Erin, 22, tried—really tried—to make sex with Drew* happen. The first time his erection died right before they were about to have sex, she improvised and gave him “really long” oral instead. But the lack of a boner was confusing. “That had never happened to me with a sexual partner, so I was like, ‘Okay, he’s just not into me,’” Erin recalls.
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The most common diagnostic test for erectile dysfunction is called penile ultrasound. This test uses sound waves to look for abnormal penile blood supply. Another test that may be done is nocturnal penile tumescence testing, in which a type of computer is attached to the penis to see if nighttime erections are occurring. If a young man is having nighttime erections but can’t get an erection during sex, a psychological cause becomes more likely.
If you’re a guy over 40, there’s a fifty-fifty chance that you have a problem getting or keeping an erection. Now, I don’t mean the sort of erection you saw in American Pie! I mean an erection that’s firm enough and long-lasting enough for sexual satisfaction. Every guy has times when he just can’t manage an erection. Still, if you’re having trouble achieving a satisfying erection more than 50% of the time, you’ve got erectile dysfunction (ED).
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The second tip is to breathe deeply, the whole time you’re having sex, but especially once you start to feel like you’re going to ejaculate or lose your erection for some reason. Deep breathing sends oxygen and energy to where it’s needed most, and it’s known for intensifying sex. What’s more important, though, is that it helps you get control over your body.
Erectile dysfunction is no laughing matter. And although it is not an easy thing to talk about, there are trained professionals who can give you good advice about what may be the cause of your current predicament. Many men like to talk about sex, but like women, they may find it harder to talk about sex when it is not going well. You won’t be judged or talked about at BPAS. We are here to help you with some of the more private things in life.