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So, you're able to get an erection during masturbation, but not when you're with your partner? 

Erectile problems can be caused by an extremely wide variety of different things, ranging from hormonal problems to physical problems with the penis, and from systemic diseases such as diabetes to side effects of medications you may be taking. 

Around 30 million men in the United States alone are affected by erectile dysfunction, and most of them are over 40 years old. 

You cannot rule the possibility that there is a medical reason for your erectile problems out even if you only experience them when you are with your partner — and if you're worried there is something physically wrong with you, you are certainly best off getting a medical checkup. If you're a young and healthy guy, however, your erectile issues are more likely to be the result of something psychological

Why Can't I Get An Erection When I'm With My Partner?

First off, ask yourself if your partner actually arouses you — if you're truly attracted to your partner, and want to have sex with them. If the honest answer to that question is "no", you have got the answer. 

To explore that a little bit more deeply, reasons for which you're not attracted to your partner could include:

  • You have recently had an argument or are in the middle of one. 
  • You no longer love your partner and have doubts about your relationship. 
  • Your partner's gender does not match your sexual orientation (it takes some people, particularly younger people, a while to figure that out). 

If you are indeed attracted to your partner and honestly want to have sex with them, your relationship with your (sex) partner could still explain your erectile problems if:

  • You have a new partner and are experiencing performance anxiety.
  • Your partner has a higher sex drive than you do and you feel pressure to have sex more often than you would like. 
  • You are not sure if you trust your partner. (You may suspect they are cheating on you, or having sex with a new partner for the first time makes you feel vulnerable.)

Some young people who are new to sex may also face erection problems if they have absorbed cultural ideas about sex being wrong. This may apply only to sex before marriage or outside of a committed relationship, or your feelings may extend to sex across the board. 

Further, some men who have grown accustomed to consuming pornography may become so used to being able to access exactly what turns them on at the click of a button that they find real-life sex with a partner disappointing. 

What Next?

I'd usually advise you to take a closer look at your lifestyle — tell you to quit smoking if you do, examine whether you're drinking too much, and reflect on whether you may simply be too stressed to maintain an erection. I'd also tell you to get yourself to a doctor to rule out possible physical causes of your erection problem. 

Since you're able to get an erection when you are alone, however, I'd advise you to try to figure out what the cause of your erectile issue is on your own. Still see a doctor if you're worried, and definitely if you think therapy or counseling might help you, but take a closer look at the way you feel about your partner, about yourself, and about sex first.

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