Question: Hi, my partner and I have not been able to have vaginal intercourse. We were both virgins before getting together, but this is ridiculous! At first, he couldn’t get an erection. Now he can get one, but when he tries to enter me, it goes away. I don’t know what to do or who to talk to. We both believe that physical intimacy is part of a deeper bond that we should share. But we haven’t been successful in this respect. I don’t understand why it is so easy for others and difficult for us.
Thanks for your question and for trusting us with your story. Although it may seem like everyone is having sex and lots of it (and good, easy, uncomplicated sex) – that’s not the story that sexual health professionals often hear.
Most couples deal with sexual problems at some time or another in their lives and sometimes these problems involve feeling physically unable to do something sexual that you both want to do.
Room For Improvement
The good news is that couples are often able to learn information and new skills (sexual skills as well as communication skills) that can help to enhance and improve their sexual and romantic lives.
But enough about “other” couples – let’s talk about you two! First, it is always a good idea for a man to check in with his healthcare provider if he is having regular problems with erections, as sometimes frequent difficulty getting or maintaining an erection is a sign of a health condition such as heart problems or diabetes.
In most cases, though, when young, healthy men have erectile problems, it is more often due to performance anxiety or stress. Considering that you two are both new to sex and probably wanting very much to please each other, and considering that he had some initial problems getting an erection (and may feel nervous about it now), it is not that surprising that these issues might persist.
Consider Meeting With A Counselor
Fortunately, information about sex and a good deal of patience and gentle communication with each other can go a long way. If you are able to, consider meeting with a sex therapist for support and guidance (find one locally through aasect.org). This issue is more common that you might guess and sex therapists are trained to help couples address such concerns.
Some books that may be helpful include The Sexual Male: Problems and Solutions (which discusses erections, performance anxiety, and strategies for dealing with erectile issues) and For Each Other: Sharing Sexual Intimacy (which focuses on how couples can communicate effectively about sexuality, explore sexuality in ways that take the pressure off of each other and foster sexual exploration and connection).
Many couples – even those who have had many sexual experiences or several partners – lack experience or comfort discussing sexual matters (even with their own partner!). And no wonder – we live in a society where very few of us grew up with comfortable or accurate sex education at school or in our homes.
By the time many people become sexually active or sexually interested, they have often not had the opportunities or the time to develop sexual communication skills.
By identifying the fact that you two want to address this issue, you are on your way to dealing effectively with what can sometimes feel like a confusing subject. Fortunately it sounds as though you both care very deeply for each other and want to work on fostering intimacy.