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I can only maintain an erection during oral sex

I find my girlfriend of seven months very attractive, so why do I lose my erection during intercourse?

My girlfriend and I have been in a relationship for seven months, and we started

My girlfriend and I have been in a relationship for seven months, and we started being sexual four months ago. But I can’t get erect without oral sex and, during intercourse, I can’t stay hard for more than about 40 seconds. I find my girlfriend very attractive, and there are strong sensual feelings and love between us. Why is this happening? What is the reason for losing erection during intercourse and reaching it only via oral sex?

It takes time to learn the art of comfortably switching between different types of sensual stimuli. Sometimes, it is difficult for a man to adjust to the difference between the feelings of oral and vaginal sex – especially if he has expectations that this should be immediate. Slow down and allow yourself time to bridge these two uniquely different sexual sensations. For now, your girlfriend may be willing to help you by delaying the switch to intercourse until you are closer to an orgasmic threshold. But it is actually quite common for a man to lose erection during intercourse, and this is often triggered by anxiety. During oral sex, you can relax and enjoy receiving pleasure without performance anxiety or fear of failure. By contrast, intercourse presents significant challenges. In this situation it is important to try to relax and to avoid being goal-oriented or expecting a perfect “performance”. And just because you embark on intercourse at a particular point during lovemaking does not mean you have to continue. Try to reach an understanding with your girlfriend that it is OK to take a break from intercourse and return to oral sex, and that this should not be a cause of anxiety for either of you. Most importantly, learn to pleasure her without involving your penis; skilful clitoral stimulation is usually a very acceptable make-up strategy.

Pamela Stephenson Connolly is a US-based psychotherapist who specialises in treating sexual disorders.

If you would like advice from Pamela Stephenson Connolly on sexual matters, send us a brief description of your concerns to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (please don’t send attachments). Submissions are subject to our terms and conditions: see gu.com/letters-terms.

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