Tag Archives: erectile dysfunction

Q&A with J: “He Goes Hard and Then Soft”

Today’s question is an urgent one, from a wife recently married:

My husband hasn’t entered me yet, not for a lack of trying. I feel so worried because it’s not as easy or as straightforward as I thought. It feels like he just can’t fit in me (is that possible?). He inserted his finger into me and wiggled it around and that worked ok. So far he also isn’t able to stay hard for very long to get in me…he goes hard and then soft, and then hard, then soft. We also haven’t found a comfortable position and maybe that’s part of the problem.

He really wants to consummate our marriage and he really wants to be inside me…I wish that I could make it happen. He’s so kind to me and we’ve been exploring each other’s bodies and he’s been stimulating me with his fingers and I’ve been helping him finish with my hands.

Is any of this normal? Does anyone else go after the wedding without sex because they can’t make it work?blog post title + row of straws ranging from straight to bentI actually emailed this newlywed wife back with some suggestions. Knowing that this frustrated couple isn’t the only one out there who has struggled to consummate, let me share those tips here:

  • He’s probably going hard then soft, hard then soft…because his concentration is wavering. I suspect he’s aroused then worried about you…aroused then worried, etc. At this point, his part doesn’t really concern me too much. I don’t think you’ll know how his erections really respond until you get the main issue worked out.
  • Are you actually in pain when he tries to enter? If so, you need to see a doctor, like a gynecologist. Have the doctor check for any structural issues and ask about vaginismus. Sheila Gregoire has several great posts on that condition. And please don’t worry about the delicacy of the topic: Doctors hear all kinds of things. Most are quite willing to answer your questions. If you do get blown off, then find another doctor.
  • You may need more time to stretch. If he can insert one finger, then have him move up from there: two fingers, three fingers. No, he’s not going to put his whole hand in there. 😉 But he can help to slowly but surely stretch your muscles enough to receive his penis. You can also do this yourself with your own fingers. I have a good friend who was advised by a doctor to stretch herself out a little on her own before her wedding night, so that she—a virgin—would find sex more comfortable, and it worked.
  • Have you tried you on top? Sometimes this helps, because you can be more in control of the pacing, angle, etc. Christian Friendly Sex Positions has quite a few ideas for wife on top. Be careful, however, of leaning so you don’t cause a sex injury (see “penile fracture”).
  • Are you on birth control? Do you have allergies? How are you lubricating? These issues deal with how your body is responding to what’s happening. You should get fully lubricated, and your inner vaginal lips should swell to 2-3 times their regular size before he enters. If your body isn’t responding to arousal this way, then you might have physiological issues that need looking into. For instance, oral contraceptives can change your hormones such that your body doesn’t have the right amount of estrogen to perform properly. And allergies can be an issue; just ask Jennifer Smith of Unveiled Wife.
  • How’s your mental focus? Are you enjoying what’s happening? You say he really wants to be inside you. What about you? Do you embrace your own sexuality fully—knowing that it’s a God-given gift for your marriage? Sometimes it’s hard for us Christian gals to flip that switch from virgin to lover, so if you’re struggling, honestly my best advice is that you pick up a copy of my book, Intimacy Revealed: 52 Devotions to Enhance Sex in Marriage, which specifically deals with how we view our bodies and our sexuality in light of God’s Word.

That’s a very brief run-down, but hopefully something there sparks an idea.

As for how normal this is? It happens more than you’d think. Breathe easy and realize that you two just vows to spend your lifetime with each other. As much as you want it all to happen right now, you really do have some time to figure this out. Work toward a solution, but also enjoy the journey and the arousal, excitement, and intimacy you experience along the way.

♥     ♥     ♥

But here’s something y’all rarely get to see. This young wife emailed me back with more information, including this tidbit:

No, I’m not in actual pain…he hasn’t been able to enter me because as he tries to enter, he goes soft.

Hmmm. I kinda take back my first point — because this is an issue worth addressing. And it happens to more than newlyweds.

Sometimes a husband struggles to keep an erection, and some men particularly struggle with maintaining the erection for intercourse. Why might a husband struggle with being hard and then going soft, just as he’s about to enter or even after he’s inside? Let’s talk about several possibilities.

Health Issue

In order to maintain an erection, you need strong, healthy blood flow that can reach and remain in his penis. Some medical conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease, interfere with proper blood flow. A husband might be able to get hard, but can’t hold onto it. So erectile dysfunction may not merely impair the marriage bed, but could be a symptom of real health problems.

Get thee to a doctor! Yep, you should start with a call to his physician to check his total health and make sure there are no health issues interfering with his ability to maintain an erection. Be insistent about making sure everything is a-okay. And if it’s not, address the issue with treatment, management, or whatever else needs to happen.

Drugs, legal and illegal

Some prescription drugs can affect the intensity of an erection. If he’s on medications, talk to the doctor and/or pharmacist about side effects to see if that’s one of them. Sometimes you can change to a different drug that won’t have the negative side effect for you.

Alcohol is another substance that affects ability to perform. Drinking too much really can make a penis go flaccid. If he’s drinking alcohol before sex, eliminate it for a while and see if that makes a difference.

Illegal drugs can have terrible consequences for many parts of your life, including the marriage bed. Plenty of users cannot perform. Now, most of the spouses I write to here are not dealing with this … but some of you are. If you’re the one using, you’ve got to stop. If your spouse doesn’t know, it’s time to fess up, get help, and be accountable. If you suspect your spouse is using, it’s time to confront (lovingly) and set some boundaries.

Masturbation

Our minds are powerful things, and they embrace patterns. When a man establishes a pattern of becoming sexually aroused and satisfied through self-touch, he can have difficulty becoming aroused and satisfied in other ways. Sometimes masturbation has been a tool men use prenuptials to deal with their high libido until they can have sex in marriage. But then they’re shocked to find that what helped them keep their sex drive in check before marriage has made it hard to enjoy what they waited so long for.

Some married men do this as well. They masturbate too often and thus deprive their wife of the sexual intimacy marriage should have. Sex becomes a self-focused activity, with a feedback loop that masturbation easier than interacting with another person. Obviously, the answer is to stop jerking the gherkin! No masturbation. None, zero, nada. Your mind and body need time to reset so that you can adopt a new pattern of being fully engaged with your beloved.

Porn

More men report experiencing erectile dysfunction these days. One of the reasons is the prevalence of porn. Where you used to have to seek porn out, now you have to keep it out … or it comes and finds you. Consequently, we have a much higher percentage of men who have seen and engaged with pornography. Again, since our minds are creatures of habit, porn can become the way he gets and stays aroused. So even if the guy can get hard, he can’t keep it unless it’s accompanied by sexual imagery.

What’s tough for the wife is finding out if this is the issue. You want to know so you can deal with the problem, but you also don’t want to (1) accuse him of doing something he isn’t doing or (2) discover that your beloved man has been looking at naked women behind your back (the selfish pig). Now I know you men who have struggled with porn just cringed at that last parenthetical, but this really is how it feels for most wives.

At the end of the day, though, you have to ask questions, show support, and realize that your husband isn’t the enemy — porn is. And if you’re the husband watching porn, confess your sin, ask for forgiveness, comfort and reassure her, and then get to work fighting the enemy. Shove off sin and embrace the real and beautiful sex God wants you to have instead. After a while, your erections should come back.

Guilt

We talk plenty about the issue of Christian women who worked so hard to maintain their purity before marriage that they struggle becoming sexual in marriage. The same can happen to men. A husband can really, really want to have sex, but when it’s showtime, deep-seated guilt comes roaring in and it goes limp. He may not even been consciously aware that’s what’s happening.

So the answer is to dig deep into what you think about sex. Do you believe 100%, with every bone and fiber of your body, that sex is a God-given blessing for your marriage? Are you tensing up when met with the opportunity to have sex? Do you feel a part of you holding back, worried that maybe this isn’t beautiful or spiritual after all? Again, my book, Intimacy Revealed, while written for wives, has a lot to say about a healthy theology of sex. You need to replace your personal guilt with God’s truth. And your body will follow.

Performance anxiety

Pure and simple, performance anxiety is often the issue for men experiencing erectile dysfunction. Especially a man who enters marriage as a virgin. This is his first go-round, and oh my goodness, the pressure! Hey, grooms get nervous about the honeymoon too. Or nervous well after the honeymoon is over.

Husbands can ruminate through a series of questions in the middle of making love: Is this good for her? Is my penis big enough? Is it too big? What if she doesn’t climax? Am I doing this right? Why isn’t she wetter? Is she ready for me to enter? Does she really want to be here, or is she just here out of duty? And on and on. What’s worse is that once he’s had erection difficulties, the big question that could be flashing in his head is: Am I going to be able to keep an erection this time? Again, pressure!

Look, erectile dysfunction happens to almost every man at some point in his life. If it hasn’t happened yet, just wait until you’re older and have a frustrating moment of your brain being totally engaged while your penis lazily hangs there in total opposition to your plans. Give yourself a break. The truth is that sex in marriage is a marvelous thing in that not everything relies on getting it right this one time; you’ve got a lifetime of lovemaking. You really can take your time, figure out how to arouse and pleasure one another, and rest assured that your penis can get the job done. If not this time, then next time.

Since this post is now rivaling Santa’s list on length, I’ll cut off there. Even though I could say more. Stop laughing, hubby. (He thinks I could always say more. 😉 )

Now to my readers, what words of encouragement or wisdom do you have for this couple or others who have experienced difficulty with maintaining an erection?