What It Really Means When He Can’t Stay Hard

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Let’s face it, ladies — if you're straight and sexually active, chances are you’ve probably encountered a situation where the guy you were hooking up with couldn’t get hard. We know how it feels. For all of us, it’s bizarre, frustrating and quite honestly, can make us feel self-conscious. What the hell is happening?

First off, if you’ve ever questioned, “Is it me? Is he not attracted to me?” Rest assured, you aren’t the cause of his impotence. Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a condition in which a man is unable to get or maintain an erection, thus preventing him from engaging in sexual intercourse — and it affects nearly 30 million men nationwide. Read below for five causes of ED for a little more clarity the next time bae can’t get hard.

1. Consuming too much alcohol

This one is well-known, so we wanted to get it out of the way right off the bat. “Whiskey dick,” as it’s most commonly known, is actually grounded in a lot of scientific fact. According to a study by the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, alcohol is the leading cause of impotence (and other issues that come with sexual dysfunction).

Sexual dysfunction as a result of alcohol dependence refers to a range of issues, including decreased sexual desire, sexual aversion disorder, difficulty in erection, difficulty in orgasm and premature ejaculation. The study notes that this dysfunction is probably due to the fact that alcohol is a depressant, which slows down brain and spinal activity.

So, the next time you come home from the bar and your boyfriend has “whiskey dick,” cut him some slack — his current condition is totally temporary.

2. Smoking tobacco

While smoking any type of drug is a personal decision, tell your guy friends who smoke tobacco that they might want to put down their cigarettes. If lung cancer wasn’t reason enough for them to quit, maybe impotence will be.

According to this study by the Health Priorities Research Group at the University of California, Irvine, there is a higher prevalence of impotence in men who smoke versus men who don’t smoke. This doesn't mean that everytime a guy smokes, he won't be able to get hard. It just means that overall, smokers are more likely to have issues with impotency.

3. Taking prescription or over-the-counter drugs

It’s probably not surprising that prescription medicine could potentially affect a man’s ability to get hard, but it might be surprising to hear that some over-the-counter drugs can interfere with erection, too. What’s more, what kind of drug causes impotence varies from man to man.

Some medicines that may cause impotence are: Benadryl, Zantac, Dramamine, Tagamet, Vistaril, Antivert and Axid. Antidepressants can also lead to impotence, and since depression affects a surprising number of  young adults, we can assume that a decent number of college men are prescribed them. If your boyfriend is having trouble getting (and/or staying) hard for a consecutive period of time, it can’t hurt to ask him if he’s on any medication that could be triggering his ED. 

4. Mental health issues

A number of psychological issues can cause ED. While they’re harder to identify and treat, the three most common are anxiety, stress and depression — and in the context of male college students, this makes sense. After all, young adult college students experience increased levels of all three.

Don’t go and self-diagnose him with one of these disorders just because he struggles to get hard on occasion. However, if you truly feel that he might be struggling with a deeper issue, you should reach out to someone in his family, a close friend or a medical professional for help.

Related: 6 Things Everyone is Insecure About When It Comes to Sex

5. Problems in your relationship

Although we started this article off by claiming it “isn’t you” who’s causing your boyfriend's ED, in some instances, you could be a part of the problem — but it has nothing to do with how attracted he is to you. An unhealthy emotional relationship will also affect your sexual relationship.

If you and your significant other have intense arguments, trouble communicating, anger issues, and/or some other rift in your relationship, it very well could lead to issues with sexual desire and function. Problems in a relationship, especially at a young age, are never good. Try and work through your issues together, and be sensitive to his impotence.

Whether it be caused by a medical problem, a lifestyle choice or a psychological issue, ED is a real thing that affects many young men across the world. The next time you’re hooking up with a guy and he can’t “keep it up,” try and sympathize with him — and don’t insult yourself in the process. Chances are, the issue has absolutely nothing to do with you.

About The Author

Taylor is a senior at Temple University in Philadelphia. She is pursuing a major in journalism with a minor in English. Taylor is a member of Delta Zeta and she hopes to work for a magazine after college. Some of Taylor's favorite things include fashion, fitness, Harry Potter, Chipotle and Instagram. Find her on Twitter and Instagram @Tay_Carson!