Erectile dysfunction

Updated 01 October 2013

3 erection problems

Our Sexologist answers erectile dysfunction questions, from penis weight-lifting injuries to condom woes.

Struggling to maintain an erection can put a damper on your sex life. Our Sexologist answers erectile dysfunction questions, from penis weight-lifting injuries to condom woes.

Q: I struggle to get erections after hanging a weight on my penis.

I am a 21-year-old male, suffering from no apparent allergies or ailments. About several months ago I read an article about penis lengthening and got so excited I actually tried it. It was the method of hanging a weight from the penis. I didn't hang the weight for too long but once I removed it it immediately felt as if I'd pulled a muscle. It wasn't painful but slightly uncomfortable. The next day my girlfriend and I were intimate and I couldn't get an erection. It surprised me and, needless to say, I became worried and it drained me both emotionally and physically.

After a few days of intensive retrospect and researching I came to the conclusion that it was a psychological problem. As soon as I admitted that a loud the problem seemed to seize. I could get and maintain hard erections as flippantly as before. I thought I'd conquered the problem.

Recently I moved back to my old neighbourhood and my girlfriend and I have maintained our relationship despite the distance. She's about to visit me and it seems the problem has started again. Literally, yesterday I could get erections and today I struggle to maintain one. As soon as I stop stimulating myself the erection subsides.

I'd like to know if my analysis and conclusion of the situation is at all a fair one and that I am actually suffering from a psychological problem as opposed to a physical problem. Could I have torn some soft tissue whilst attempting the penile tension? If so, how is it that I was able to achieve erections once I'd convinced myself that the problem was a psychological one?

Expert : I wanted to confer with some medical colleagues to confirm my thinking.

As I suspected, both doctors were quite satisfied that if there were some physical damage then you would be experiencing other symptoms such as a new bend/curvature of the penis and/or pain.

It is most likely therefore that your problems are related to your concerns about the size of your penis (which having followed some of the discussion on this site and your responses suggests that you are above average!) and worries about losing your erection.

Psychological factors can wreak havoc on our sexual response and the best thing that you can do is to try to relax and focus on sensation and not on how hard your penis is or whether you might lose the erection - this thinking inhibits the sexual response.

Please don't tie anything to your penis again! 

Q: I cannot keep an erection when using a condom, what is the problem?

I cannot keep an erection for longer than 30 seconds when I use a condom and it is becoming a problem! I have no problem getting an erection at all but as soon as I slip that baby on it just starts to disappear! I either don’t get enough sensation and it even feels like the condom is just squeezing to hard or something! I am a 29-year-old male.

Expert: The challenge you describe is not an uncommon challenge and is often one of the reasons men state why they do not use condoms. This of course in certain circumstances is a highly risky choice to make with regards to unplanned pregnancy and a range of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.

Firstly it is often recommended that men adapt to condom use by using them during masturbation to get use to the feel of them and to discover what kind of manual stimulation (in position and location of stimulation as well as firmness and vigour of stimulation) ensures sufficient sensation to maintain erection.

 You can also buy ultra thin condoms (not recommended for anal intercourse) that ensure higher levels of sensation.

 It is also recommended that you put a bit of water-based lube in the tip of the condom before putting it on to also heighten potential for sensation.

Q: Does regular masturbation cause softer erections?

Does regular play with myself cause one to have a softer erection/impotence or suffer from premature ejaculation. I masturbate almost 3 times a week and I have noticed that I do this whenever there is no one to relieve myself with. This affects erections when I get someone I do not get full hard erection and unable to penetrate my partner. What kind of medications can help me achieve a hard erection? The problem is that by the time I feel hornier I do not get someone to sleep with. Most women don't understand this and it is problematic because by the time I get someone do not get a full erection and this embarrasses me.

Expert: I suspect that the softer erection is due to some sort of performance anxiety rather than it being caused by masturbation. Some relevant differences between masturbation and intimacy with a partner are that (1) you don't have to worry about pleasing your partner or "performing well" when masturbating, and (2) self stimulation may be more stimulating to the controlled increased friction and/or the images/fantasy you use with masturbation. You can speak to your doctor about one of the PDE5 inhibitors (e.g. Viagra, Cialis or Levitra) as these might help you to overcome any anxiety...if this doesn't work you might need to consult with a sex therapist. 

(Picture: couple with problems in bed from Shutterstock)



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Ask the Expert

Erectile Dysfunction Expert

Dr Kenny du Toit is a urologist practicing in Rondebosch, Cape Town. He is also consultant at Tygerberg hospital, where he is a senior lecturer at Stellenbosch University. He is a member of the South African Urological Association, Colleges of Medicine South Africa and Société Internationale d’Urologie. Board registered with both the HPCSA (Health professions council of South Africa) and GMC (General medical council UK). He has a keen interest in oncology, kidney stones and erectile dysfunction.

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