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This is what can cause a loss of erection during sex

Losing an erection is one of the most common bumps in the road in bedrooms around the world.

Written by
Imogen Kars
Medically reviewed by
Last updated
April 17, 2024
min read
This is what can cause a loss of erection during sex
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It never feels good, but losing an erection is one of the most common bumps in the road in bedrooms around the world. And, it often goes far beyond performance anxiety.

Erectile difficulties are usually a short-lived problem and most of the time it's nothing to worry about if it happens once or twice. But, if you're experiencing regular loss of erection during sex, it might be worth checking things out.

Luckily, we've put together a guide for you on what causes erection problems during sex and what you can do to stay hard for longer and in turn, positively impact your sex stamina. So strap in and let's get going.

How do erections work?

First things first: erections happen thanks to nerve messages sent from your brain. When you're sexually aroused, nerve messages stimulate the penis and send it impulses that tell the corpora cavernosa muscles to relax.

The relaxation of these muscles allows blood to flow freely from many parts of your body, which fills in the open spaces in your penis and leads to a hard-on. The pressure from the blood rushing to your penis makes it expand and creates an erection [1]. The more you know, huh?

What is erectile dysfunction?

Now that you understand how erections work, let's dive into the nitty gritty of erectile dysfunction. Technically speaking, losing an erection during sex is a form of erectile dysfunction, which refers to a common male sexual health problem. Erectile dysfunction can affect men of all different ages and backgrounds, and the most common symptom is losing an erection [2].

But before you start panicking, let's get one thing straight: erectile dysfunction is extremely common. In fact, 1 in 2 Aussie men experiences erectile dysfunction at some point in their lives [3].

On top of this, erection problems don't always signal a clear-cut erectile dysfunction problem. Failed erections can happen to all of us, and they can even stem from emotional causes.

As a general rule of thumb, erectile dysfunction can vary in severity. For those with severe erectile dysfunction, the experience might involve never being able to get it up. On the other hand, men with mild forms of erectile dysfunction might be able to get hard but have trouble maintaining it during sex.

What causes a loss of erection during sex?

As we mentioned above, erectile dysfunction can happen to many of us — and simply losing an erection once or twice is no cause for concern.

So what causes the loss of an erection? Well, a huge range of elements can come into play when it comes to this sex problem. Whether you lose your erection during sex, or you can't get it firm enough to get it on, your hard-on issues could stem from anything.

Physical causes can be a major blockage to the physiology of erection problems — several health issues can affect the function of your nerves, or reduce the circulation of the blood flow to the penis.

Physical causes can include cardiovascular issues like heart disease, clogged arteries and high blood pressure. These may affect the blood vessels and stop your penis from receiving enough blood flow to get erect. Disorders like multiple sclerosis that are based on the nervous system can also affect your erections.

But here's where it gets a little tricky — sometimes physical causes that don't directly lead to erectile dysfunction can have an impact on your erection, too. Especially when it comes to your sex drive. As an example, if your testosterone levels aren't healthy and consistent, it can lead to a lack of libido which can cause forms of erectile dysfunction.

But physical causes are far from the only thing that drives erectile dysfunction — did you know that medications and recreational drugs can also stop you from getting it on?

Medications like antidepressants, appetite suppressants, anti-anxiety medications, antihistamines and even blood pressure medications can stop you from getting it on. Illegal drugs can have a similar impact as well [4].

But unfortunately, the causes of erectile dysfunction don't stop there — lifestyle habits can also play a major role in getting it on. And in some cases, your lifestyle can even cause other chronic health conditions that trigger or worsen sexual dysfunction and put a stop to your sex life.

Examples of lifestyle habits that can cause erectile dysfunction include:

There's also a range of psychological issues and mental health factors that can lead to erectile dysfunction. As an example, depression and anxiety are linked to erectile dysfunction. It's extremely common to lose erections even if you're anxious or feeling guilty about not being able to get it up in bed.

Sometimes even stress (whether it be about your erectile dysfunction problem itself, or even unrelated issues like work or family stress) can trigger bouts of erectile dysfunction.

Phew! What a deep dive. As you can see, there's a lot to losing an erection — and often a variety of factors will be at play when it comes to maintaining a reliable erection.

What should I do if I lose my erection?

So, now you know what might be behind your erectile dysfunction, what should you do if you experience it?

Well, if you've lost an erection once or twice, you may not need to take any action. Keep an eye on things the next time you get lucky, and monitor how your body responds. For some people, experiencing losing an erection even once can knock them off their feet — so make sure you try to stay positive and communicate with your partner if it feels right.

It's completely normal to lose a hard-on sometimes — especially if you're feeling tired, not in the mood or distracted. The great news is that this doesn't necessarily mean you have erectile dysfunction. We all have off days! Erection problems every once in a while are often nothing to be concerned about.

Most of the time, losing an erection becomes erectile dysfunction when it becomes consistent or noticeable to you, or when it starts to have a significant negative effect on your sex life.

Erectile dysfunction might be a problem in your life if you can get an erection sometimes, but not every time you want to get it on. It might also mean getting hard briefly, but not being able to keep it up long enough to penetrate your partner. And sometimes, you might even find you can't get it up at all.

If you begin to notice that losing an erection is becoming regular, or even your new normal, it's time to reach out for health. Get in touch with a trusted medical professional.

How to deal with losing an erection during sex

But what should one do when he loses an erection during sexy time? Well, we all know how frustrating this can feel. It kills the mood, and sometimes it can lead to some pretty strange conversations.

But it doesn't have to be like that. There's a whole range of ways to make lifestyle changes and assess your health issues to ensure erectile dysfunction doesn't impede your life.

Small and simple changes can sometimes make a world of a difference in your sexual health. One of the major elements of a healthy sexual life is living a wholesome, balanced and active lifestyle. Some of the best tactics to stay healthy include:

While the techniques above aren't set to solve your sex life, they can have a profound impact. If you feel like something bigger is going on, or you'd like the support of an expert, reaching out to a doctor can be your best port of call.

Pilot's Aussie practitioners are here to help you with erectile dysfunction and with online consults and judgement-free treatments, you can access help without even needing to leave your home. Simply complete a consult with a Pilot practitioner and they'll be able to create a treatment for erectile dysfunction just for you.

And, your treatment will be delivered discreetly to your home, so you can avoid any awkward conversations with your local GP or pharmacist. Plus, with unlimited follow-ups with your practitioner, you can ensure that you'll have ongoing medical support on your ED journey.

Photo credit: Getty Images

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