How to Manage Losing an Erection

Dr Kathryn Basford

Medically reviewed by

Dr Kathryn Basford

Last reviewed: 04 Jul 2022

Losing an erection during sex can happen when you least expect it. Here is a helpful guide on how you can avoid losing an erection in the future.

Man looking up losing an erection online

Losing an erection is normal, and it happens to the best of us. It’s usually short lived and nothing to worry about. But it might be worth thinking about why you’re losing an erection. Your sex drive, making lifestyle changes or getting treatment could be the answer. Remember that speaking to one of our doctors about losing an erection is always an option.

What causes you to lose your erection?

Why do men sometimes lose erections?

There are many causes of erection problems. Most men experience them because they are:

  • tired
  • anxious
  • stressed
  • drinking too much alcohol
  • taking certain medication
  • worried about their sexual performance

Performance anxiety and losing an erection

Performance anxiety is more common than you think. It can result in you losing an erection or finding it difficult to maintain an erection. You could try speaking to your partner about their sexual expectations. Be open about your expectations too. This can help you relax, feel more confident and enjoy sex more.

If wearing a condom gives you performance anxiety, take the time to find a brand you’re comfortable with. Over time, using a condom will naturally become part of your routine with your partner.

Do condoms make it harder to maintain an erection?

Putting on a condom should become as natural as putting on socks. It takes practise and some getting used to. When you put on a condom, and it’s too tight or causes skin irritation, you might find it hard to maintain an erection. When you have sex, you want to enjoy the experience, so getting the right size and type of condom can help solve this problem. You might want to look into different materials that condoms are made from or check if you have a latex allergy. There are so many to choose from. It’s worth trying different brands until you find the perfect fit. Sometimes using a condom can make your partner feel uncomfortable, so work together to find a good lubricant too.

Condoms help you and your partner practise safe sex. It shows you care about them and you respect each other’s health. If you don’t like using a condom, make sure to discuss this with your partner first. You can always speak to your doctor or a sexual health professional for more advice on using condoms.

Does losing an erection mean I have erectile dysfunction?

Losing an erection does not automatically mean you have erectile dysfunction (ED). This is when you either can’t get an erection in the first place, or you find it difficult to maintain an erection. If it starts happening regularly, it might be a good idea to speak to your doctor.

Maybe you’re not feeling well, or your body isn’t what it used to be. We call these emotional and physical causes of erectile dysfunction. Getting treatment for these could help you get back on track.

Emotions can affect your sex life at any age. Take back control of your emotional wellbeing by talking about what’s getting you down. You can do this with your partner or healthcare professional. If you’re trying to work through a difficult time in your life, know that we’re here to help.

Here are some examples of emotional causes of ED:

Physical causes of erectile dysfunction can happen too, and sometimes without you noticing. Having regular checkups with your doctor can help keep you on top of your health.

Here are some examples of physical causes of ED:

  • heart disease
  • diabetes
  • obesity
  • high blood pressure
  • clogged arteries (atherosclerosis)
  • hormone imbalances, such as thyroid problems or low testosterone (this can lead to a low sex drive)
  • nervous system problems, such as Multiple Sclerosis or Parkinson’s disease
  • prostate surgery
  • spinal cord injury
  • not getting enough exercise

There are also physical causes of ED which come from:

  • smoking
  • drinking too much alcohol
  • using drugs

Some medicines can cause erectile dysfunction as a side effect. These include medications used to treat:

  • blood pressure (like beta blockers and water tablets)
  • heart conditions
  • depression
  • mental health
  • hormone replacement
  • cancer
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • inflammation

With ZAVA, you can request safe, effective medical treatment for erectile dysfunction to use alongside other tips and techniques. Get started by completing our short online medical questionnaire so our doctors can check if this is suitable for you. If you have any questions about erectile dysfunction or treatment, you can privately message our doctors through your account, free of charge.

How to manage losing an erection

So what should you do if you lose an erection? Remember that it happens sometimes, and try to get into a routine of managing losing an erection.

Here are four examples of what you could do, depending on the situation:

  • If you’ve lost an erection once, you may not need to do anything. You may find that you can get and keep your erection the next time you try.
  • Some people find that losing an erection once knocks their confidence. It’s important to talk about it and maintain a positive stance. The situation is temporary, and an easy solution is to rest and try again later. If you’re no longer in the mood, that’s ok too.
  • Speak to your partner when you lose an erection. Communicating with them can help build a better relationship. This can make losing an erection less likely in future. If you feel your partner is not supportive, try talking to a healthcare professional.
  • Consider thinking about whether erectile dysfunction treatment could work for you. You can speak to one of our doctors and order online today.

Does losing an erection mean I’m not aroused?

Not at all - you can still be aroused and lose your erection. There may be other reasons why you have lost your erection. For example:

  1. You might have performance anxiety. Try having a conversation with your partner. Or take a break to relax, regain your confidence and get going again.
  2. You’ve been drinking alcohol, and you might have had a bit more than your body can handle. Resting and waiting for the next day might be your best option to try again.
  3. You might have a problem you don’t know about that could be causing erectile dysfunction. Going for a checkup with your doctor can help you find out and help keep you on top of your health.

Keep in mind that there are erections you can get when you are not aroused, for example, in the morning when you wake up.

How to stop losing your erection during sex

Losing your erection during sex can happen, and you can prepare for when it happens by:

  • not smoking
  • avoiding alcohol
  • having a snack to keep your energy levels up
  • making sure you have been sleeping well
  • going to the gym or exercising regularly
  • not using drugs that could affect performance
  • going for regular health checkups with your doctor

My partner lost his erection and now he’s avoiding sex. What should I do?

Be sensitive to how your partner may be feeling after losing an erection. They could be anxious, worried or embarrassed. These are all normal outcomes after losing an erection. If it’s the first time they’ve lost their erection, reassure them that you’re happy to try again whenever they’re ready.

You could try giving them some space to reflect on the situation. Say that you are available to talk to and let them know you’re happy to work through the problem. You can work through it together to find a solution.

If they don’t want to talk about it, you can encourage them to see a doctor or a sexual health specialist. They’re more than happy to help, and everything is confidential.

How can I avoid losing erections in the future?

Regular health checks with your doctor can help you find out problems before they arise. For example, checking your testosterone levels.

To avoid losing erections in future, you may want to start with what you put on your plate. Stick to good eating habits to help keep your blood sugar and cholesterol levels healthy. Your blood pressure will stay under control, and you’ll be able to manage a healthy body weight too. A healthy balanced diet will include enough:

  • fruits
  • vegetables
  • low fat dairy, including cheese, yoghurt, milk and butter
  • high fibre carbohydrates, like wholegrain bread, beans and oats
  • lean proteins, like chicken or fish
  • good fats, like olive oil, avocados and nuts

You should avoid food which is:

  • processed, like sweets or packaged goods
  • high in fat, like greasy takeaways
  • deep fried
  • very salty

On top of what you eat, you may want to:

  • quit smoking
  • cut back on how much alcohol you drink
  • avoid using drugs like anabolic steroids or recreational drugs

Your state of mind also plays a key role in maintaining an erection. To avoid losing an erection in future, you could consider:

  • looking after your mental and emotional wellbeing
  • trying different ways to get aroused by stimulating a variety of senses
  • playing music during sex
  • staying relaxed and not worrying about whether you have an erection before or during sex
  • communicating with your partner about sexual expectations
Medically reviewed by:
Dr Kathryn Basford Accreditations: MB, ChB, MPH

Dr Kathryn Basford is a qualified GP who works as a GP in London, as well as with ZAVA. She graduated from the University of Manchester and completed her GP training through Whipps Cross Hospital in London.

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Last reviewed: 04 Jul 2022

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