Can’t Get An Erection The First Time With A New Partner?

image of a drooping flower representing erection problems

I know, it’s an odd metaphor. But it’s not easy to find a suitable image for this topic!

Do you struggle to get an erection when you’re with a new partner? And no matter how much you’re attracted to them, it just doesn’t spring to life when you most need it to?

That’s exactly what’s happened to me in recent times, and it’s proven to be a very frustrating and embarrassing problem.

Every time I’m with a new partner, I just can’t get an erection the first time we try to have sex. And the problem only resolves when we sleep next to each other, wake up the next morning and try again.

The first time it happened, I didn’t put much thought into it, especially because I’d drunk a fair bit of alcohol. I just put it down to the wine and didn’t worry too much about it.

But over the next few months it happened with three different woman. And every time the exact same thing happened. It was becoming a serious problem that I was going to have to find a way to deal with before my confidence took an even bigger hit.

What happens

Everything always seems to go fine at first. Usually I take someone on a couple of dates at least before we end up back at my place or hers. Things naturally progress from kissing to undressing as the passion builds nicely.

I feel very horny mentally, and physically too, but then I just can’t get a full erection. I can get a partial erection – sometimes even 75% – but not enough to have sex. I don’t feel like I’m particularly stressed or anxious, but then when this happens I definitely get stressed.

So I’ve now had to develop a coping mechanism to deal with the inevitably awkward moment when she realizes it’s not going on. I’ve accepted that it’s probably going to happen, and decided the best thing to do is to talk about it openly in advance.

Obviously by ‘in advance’ I don’t mean over cocktails. I just find a moment during foreplay to bring it up, rather than leave it as a mystery and pretend I’m as surprised as she is.

Taking responsibility for it

I realized it was important to take responsibility for one very important reason: if I don’t, then she might. And that’s unfair and unpleasant for her.

I spoke to the last two partners about it, who both admitted in virtually the same words that they would assume they just don’t turn me on. And even when I told them it always happens, I could tell they were still doubtful.

You can’t exactly start telling them about all the times it’s happened. No woman wants to hear about the last 3 women you were with at the moment the two of you are supposed to be enjoying something magical.

But you still somehow need to convince her it’s just a ‘thing’ that happens, and it will pass. It’s a tricky one.

What caused it?

I did wonder if by learning to avoid premature ejaculation through relaxation, I’d somehow gone the other way and become so relaxed my penis was too ‘zen’ to bother getting erect.

But I think the real explanation lies in anxiety, and probably in relation to my body. I had testicular cancer several years ago (I’m 5 years all clear now!) and it’s ever since then that I’ve had these erection problems.

The treatment I had left me with some physical, and emotional, scars. And although women tell me that scars are sexy, I think they really mean from motorbike accidents more than medical treatment. So I think deep down I’m still anxious about their reaction.

Add to that the fact that I’ve had to deal with premature ejaculation for years, I think it’s natural to have developed an anxiety problem. Even though I don’t feel anxious on the surface, I do know I’m a born worrier, and that I’ve just learned to mask my anxiety with a well-trained sense of confidence.

First attempts at dealing with it

I think I’ll need to do some personal work on that anxiety – if I can get to the root of it on my own. I’d like to think I can, having managed to do so well in my battle with premature ejaculation.

If you’re reading this and have similar issues, my advice to you is this: talk about it openly and with confidence. Take responsibility for it and don’t let her think it’s her fault. Otherwise you might not have the good fortune to wake up with her smiling and willing to try again.

After that, a bit of internal self-work may be needed, either alone or with some professional help. Anxiety may or may not be the root cause, and it may be a while before I’m completely sure. I’ll come back and update this article if I ever do find out for certain.

1 year later: I think I’ve found a solution

Since I first wrote this article a long time ago, I’ve spent a lot of time reading the many comments from other guys with similar problems, thinking about their stories and theories and trying to come up with a solution.

And finally, a year later, I’ve had some success. I managed to get an erection the first night with the last 2 women I slept with, and also pretty much when I wanted to.

The secret – I think – has been to boost my testosterone levels so much that it balances out the anxiety, nerves or whatever else is going on psychologically.

Basically, I did a lot of research into erectile dysfunction and discovered a common suggestion is that it’s sometimes due to low testosterone levels. So I duly decided to do everything within my power to boost it.

Here’s what I did:

  • Stopped smoking.
  • Started doing lots of work on my legs in the gym, particularly dead-lifts and similar exercises for the thighs, which apparently help with testosterone production.
  • Stopped drinking protein shakes (apparently they can lower testosterone!)
  • Worked hard to improve my sleep pattern and get a regular 8 hours.
  • Started on a testosterone boosting diet.
  • Started taking L-Arginine supplements.

Within 2 weeks I noticed that even during masturbation I was getting harder erections, particularly on the days I really focused on my legs in the gym.

Other than the gym work, I’m fairly sure I also noticed an effect from the L-Arginine supplements. I’d read that researchers have found that L-Arginine can be effective in treating erectile dysfunction because it boosts blood circulation to the penis.

I also think my serious health and fitness regime helped increase my circulation, and on a psychological front my confidence. So it looks like I hit the problem from a few different angles.

2016 update: trying Viagra

Since the last update, I’ve once again had the same problem. I think this time it was because I totally fell for someone, and I really wanted to things to go well, resulting in the old anxiety resurfacing.

So I decided to give Viagra a go, and it was very effective. I won’t be using it on an ongoing basis, as I’d like to try to manage the problem naturally – and it gave me headaches. However, it was interesting to try and a good confidence boost.

If it’s something you’re also considering, you might find my Viagra review helpful.

2017 update

Since the last time I wrote, I haven’t tried Viagra again. However, I’ve been doing a lot of research into the issue of erectile dysfunction, and am planning on writing more about it in the future.

Interestingly, I experimented this year with not watching any porn at all for a month. And I’m sure it’s had a positive effect on how easily I get turned on in the presence of women. So it might be worth a try if you have a similar issue.

I’ve also put a lot of thought into the annoying problem of having problems keeping an erection when wearing a condom. Have a read of that article if you also find it tricky to maintain an erection when the condom appears.

Your views

If you or your partner experience this issue, what do you find helps or makes it worse? Feel free to share your story below and any ideas you have for coping with it.

And a big thank you to all the readers who’ve taken the time to share their story and ways of dealing with this issue. There are lots of fantastic tips and words of wisdom below, which I know others will benefit from a lot.


  • Curious if this has happened to anyone… healthy 29 year old here. Became newly single after a 8 year relationship. Never had a issue with ED. My buddy told me to take this Cialis and it will take my sex from a 10 to a 15. As it did. So I took it for about a month with this new girl I was seeing and it was great. She left on a month long vacation so didn’t see the reason of taking it anymore. After about a week I realized I can’t get an erection anymore. And the more I think about it the more stressed I get. Went to a urologist and they said everything’s fine with me and it’s all in my head. The girl I’m seeing is getting back in a week and a half and I’m terrified, I don’t know how to beat this.

    • Hi Todd
      I haven’t experienced this problem personally. I would say though that perhaps it was pure coincidence, and your libido just took a natural dip. I understand your concern, but hopefully you’ll be fine when you see her again. Try not to stress about it, and probably stay away from these drugs if you don’t need them – something I imagine you already decided to do!

  • Hello,

    Before I start I’d like to thank you for taking the time to share your personal experiences with us and helping a lot of us to understand a bit more of ourselves. I do not want to write a book on here so I will try to go directly to the point.

    I’m 25 years now and everything started when I first tried to have sex and I could not get an erection. Since then and from all my past experiences (relationships and one night stands), I realized that my ‘first time’ erection problems would mostly occur when I was sober (I don’t seem to have a problem with that when I am drunk) and when putting the condom on. To be honest, apart from my fist time trying to have sex, I would always find a way to get my erection back and have sex, some examples on how I did it are:

    -waiting some time before trying it again;
    -receiving (good) oral sex:
    -having sex without condom ’cause most of the times I would lose my erection when putting the condom on (but I do not recommend this to anyone);
    -playing with my penis (even if its flaccid) on the girl’s vagina;
    -doing something that really turns you on (liking her ass in my case).

    Lately I gave Viagra a try and it worked pretty well for me (with no side effects). Even though I do not want to depend solely on the pill, it does offer me a relieve to know that I can call back up in case my erection runs away. I hope that by having one pill on my wallet would give me a comfort feeling in case things don’t go as planned.

    It is important to mention that I am very anxious (overthinking being the bigger problem) and I really feel that this is the problem with me since I can get normal erections after the first time I am with a girl. So, I started to research more on how I can work on my anxiety through meditation or recently with the ‘mindfulness’ technique.

    My question is, is it mindfulness something that ever helped someone to deal with their performance anxiety? Is there any books, podcasts, websites you would recommend me to start off on mindfulness (there is a load of material out there and it is hard to choose)? I really feel that working on my anxiety would make me get rid of this problem but it is very hard to find a start point.

    Thanks again for all your texts on the matter and hope we will all find peace in our minds.

    Love from Brazil!

    • Hi Keoma
      Thanks for taking the time to share your experience. I really like a couple of your suggestions – especially doing something that turns you on, and also touching sexually even if flaccid. But best of all, the idea of keeping viagra just as a ‘comfort back up’ is great. I think that might be a really good suggestion to add to my general advice!
      Mindfulness is something I’ve also practised, with good success. But mainly for stress in life, not specifically for sex. Maybe it did help me over time as well though, as I’m generally less stressed nowadays!
      There’s a good book about it called ‘Mindfulness: A practical guide to finding peace in a frantic world’.

  • This has been happening to me for the last few years as well. Every time I was with a new partner, I couldn’t get it up for the life of me. Even with my current girlfriend, it took a few tries before it finally happened. I definitely think it’s anxiety related, because I remember even before it happened, I’d be kinda sweaty and my heart rate was high… and not because I was excited. I just don’t know how the hell to get it to stop. As of right now, it isn’t a huge issue, because I get it up fine with my gf for the most part, but even with her it happens randomly. I’m just worried that if we ever break up, I’ll have to go through it again with another girl, and who knows if they’ll be as patient as my current gf.

    • Hi Nick
      Perhaps if it still happens from time to time, there’s partly a physical cause too. Do you do, or take, anything that could be restricting blood flow, or affecting your circulation etc?

  • I have had this problem my entire life too. With every single girl I’ve been with, I can never ever get it up during intimacy the first time (or first few times). Doesn’t matter if it’s sex, oral, kissing, nothing works and it’s so embarrassing and frustrating, because it sucks that something hat is supposed to be instinctual and normal is something that is such a struggle. I’m with my current partner of 2 years and we have issues anymore but I know that problem I had never got resolved, because I feel it’s mental rather than physical. I overthink or get too much anxiety which leads me to not get hard. Even these days if my partner is to perform oral or start to kiss me I start to wonder “will I get it up”, which usually leads to it not working. If I can somehow quiet my mind and feel comfortable and be present in the moment, it’s fine. I really hope to conquer this completely though as I don’t feel like any man should have to go through this problem. I do believe there is a correlation with porn and masterbation… I of course love porn but I do feel like it becomes unhealthy to watch it, I find that it’s really fake in a lot of ways and rather than being present and intimate with a partner we are trying to be pornstars sometimes. My current partner told me that, she said that when we have sex it feels like I’m thinking about what my moves will be or how I perform rather than just simply being present in the moment and being intimate naturally. Maybe a solution is to research and focus on how to quiet the mind and be present in life’s moments, not thinking too much about expectations or performance but just living and being alive, and enjoying it. I hope everyone here and myself conquer this one day, I have faith we will :)

    • Hi Sam
      Thanks for sharing your experience here. Have you heard of Mindfulness? It’s a way of dealing with stress, anxiety and other problems that’s become very popular in recent years. I mention it because it’s all about learning to quieten the mind a bit and be in the moment, which is what you say you need. I agree that it can be an issue during sex – we often worry that previous problems will happen again, which can be a vicious circle. I’ve done a lot of mindfulness work in daily life before, and really liked the results. You can get self-help guides on it in bookshops, online and there are websites that teach it for free.
      I totally agree that ED can be an unfair thing for men. But I also think it’s good to acknowledge that sometimes it just happens. As long as most of the time you’re ok, try not to stress when it does happen, accept it and enjoy being with your partner in intimate ways that don’t need an erection. If you can do that and relax with them, there’s a better chance you’ll get it going anyway.

  • I’ve had the same problem my entire life, I thought it was just me.

    I found that if I don’t watch porn or only masterbate when I absolutely can’t find a woman and can’t carry on anymore. This is key!

    This has also meant lowering my standards from time to time since woman aren’t always dancing on the tables for me everywhere I go.

    Try to make every sexual encounter with a woman and try not to masterbate at all costs. This seemed to work the best for me.

    However even doing this I’ve still managed to fail during the first sexual encounter.

    I’ve found a solution that works 100% of the time and that’s sticking to oral sex the first night. The suction from receiving head keeps me hard every single time. I’ve also never had a woman complain about me climaxing before having sex as long as I finished her off as well.

    I have run across a few women who want to be fucked and will not finish me off orally. What seemed to work for me was having them on top. Also, I was very far along from the oral to begin with that losing an erection wasn’t even a thought. For some reason when a woman is on top I can last forever so even though I’m close to climaxing form the oral sex I can last as long as I need to.

    I’m pretty sure it’s all in our heads…this is what worked for me and I never had to explain anything.

    Good luck

    • Hi Dave
      Thanks for sharing your experience and your tips. I agree that reducing masturbation can help, and that there’s a big psychological component for many men. Focusing on oral sex is also a great way to take the pressure off you to ‘perform’. Sex doesn’t have to be all about penetration, and oral is a great way to enjoy intimacy together.

  • Hi Ethan,
    I’m very well aware that this is an old post but I’ve only just seen it and i cannot tell you how relieved reading this has made me. I thought I was the only one this happened to as I’ve spoken about my issues to many of my friends and no one seems to understand what I’m talking about. I’ve had several potential hookups in the past few years which have all been ruined by my ED. It had happened with all three of my previous girlfriends the first time we hooked up; both times it was thoroughly embarrassing. We would begin foreplay, i would get an erection and after a while when i started to think about sex, i would start to panic and suddenly i would feel my erection going until it went completely and I was left with a girl who was worked up and ready for sex but I was not able to perform. As you can imagine i would feel pretty awful and the night would end with both of us going to sleep unfulfilled and feeling pretty shitty. However, through sheer luck both of those girls gave me a second (and third chance) and as a result I was able to get to a stage with them where i felt comfortable enough that I wouldn’t start to worry or panic and I would be able to maintain my erection and have some great sex. My problem recently has been that my ED has stopped a few hook ups and I haven’t been given a second chance. As a result of this i Haven’t had sex in two years! As a 22 year old this has left me feeling very inadequate and frustrated. I’ve also been masturbating regularly for quite a few years now which according to your post may be contributing to the problem. As quite a shy guy, now I’ve left university it has become increasingly difficult to meet new girls so every chance I have with a girl is now important and i don’t want to be screwing it up. Any advice as to what i can do?

    • Hi Charlie
      Thanks for sharing your experience, and I’m sorry to hear it’s led to you feeling so worried about sex. I completely understand what you’re going through, believe me!
      I think it’s a personal choice what you decide to do. I’ve been experimenting with different meds to see what works, which you may or may not have seen my reviews of. For me personally, those that increase blood flow work well – viagra, generic viagra, herbal versions even. But also a penis pump seems to work well. My personal feeling at the moment is that working on getting blood flow in order without meds would be ideal. And anxiety/stress in the moment of needing to perform is also something that can stop you from getting an erection. So, my advice would be to work on the mental side (read the comments here for some great, positive advice about that), and also the physical side. And by that, blood flow either naturally or with some help is something to consider.

  • Hey, thats interesting article, i love people who keep on gathering new information about certain topic for a long period of time…it made me less worried, so thanks… heres my problem: I am 18 years old, i do workout usually at home, but not regularly, i have almost no fat, but im not that much muscular…and im gay possibly bi, but i am attracted to appearance and personality and knowledge, i just want to be with a guy and cuddle and hug, etc… generally i rarely get horny, i usually jack off once or twice a week, but even at those times im not horny or i dont have the desire to do it… and its getting worse as the time moves on…i just started with sex/dating guys, and ive been with 2 guys so far, when we were hugging or something i did get boner, but when we were together at night, in bed, i couldnt get hard on… and it was frustrated… the first time it happened, was like a month ago and i was laying on a bed, he was sucking me, but i only got like 70% erection, and then it went soft, then a bit hard again, and then soft… i didnt know what to do about it, so i tried to sit and not lie on a bed, i must say that it helped but it still wasnt right, it took me like hour to cum after i sat… the next time with other guy, i didnt cum at all… it was really late night tho, and i was tired… but in the morning its better, i can get harder,yet it takes me so long to cum… i was thinking about the causes of this… i think that not working out for more than 2 weeks, doing it at night, not having enough energy, being often on pc/phone takes away my desires and energy, laying down instead of standing, being stressed even a little bit, low sugar intake maybe… these are the factors that i think could affect my boner, but i might try increasing my testosterone, that could help… and probably drinking coffe at evening might help, to increase energy and blood circulation at night… but i find it weird that im like the only teenager i know, who doesnt jerk off everyday, doesnt watch porn(i do rarely), who doesnt think about sex everyday, and whose wanking session takes 10-50 minutes, i can edge for hours :D :D… i thought it was better to be this way, but its starting to get in way of my self-exploration journey… i will appreciate any ideas :)

    • Hi Martin
      Thanks for sharing your story here. I think you’re probably right in that some of those factors could be affecting your erection quality. In my experience, late at night is always worse than first thing in the morning. The blood circulation idea is also probably important, though I’m not sure a coffee is the answer. I’ll be writing more about circulation in the future as I’ve done a lot of research into it recently, and now know it’s a key factor. So again, the lack of exercise and long days sat at a computer won’t help. Don’t worry about the lack of libido compared to others though – you’re definitely no alone there, no matter what others might admit.

    • Hi Josh
      Sorry to hear that. Have a read through the suggestions both in the article and the comments. There are lots of great ideas from other readers too. Try not to stress about it, and work on the mental side as much as the physical.

  • Hi Ethan. This is a great article as well as your article on condom issues, so a big thanks!

    During your research did you find any correlation in high blood pressure medication and ED, specifically Amlodipine Besylate or Lisinopril? Also, have you found any correlation with reduced sodium intake?

    About 4 months ago I was diagnosed with high blood pressure and started taking Amlodipine. About a month after that I was also prescribed Lisinopril in addition to and instructed to cut way back on sodium in my diet. Not long after this I noticed I wasn’t getting as hard as I used to and I’m definitely having ED-condom issues. I tried googling this and all I’ve found is that ED can be related to high blood pressure, Amlodipine should actually help with ED, and ED is not a side effect of Lisinopril. I’m finding this pretty odd since it seems like my body has gone through the opposite as I wasn’t having any ED issues when my BP was high. I had a follow up a couple of days ago and my doctor said he didn’t believe it was the meds and maybe thought it was stress related. This is possible, but it seems like a pretty big coincidence that my issues started the same time I started taking BP meds.

    Thanks in advance, and again great articles!!

    • Hi Rich
      Thanks for your comment, and for your compliment – it’s always good to know readers appreciate the articles!
      I can understand why you’d be concerned that these meds could be causing your problem, especially as they would appear to have a similar effect to drugs like sildanafil, which help ED by increasing blood flow. However, they don’t work in exactly the same way, so I think it’s important not to make a definitive connection. I did some research, and all I could find was some mention of Lisinopril possibly causing low sex drive. Perhaps that’s something for you to look into more, rather than straight up ED. Another link in the possible chain of cause and effect, so to speak.
      As for salt, reducing the salt intake should help increase blood flow, not the opposite! Here’s an interesting article I found about salt and Ed.
      It could be stress related too, if you’re under stress. So maybe that’s something to tackle anyway. And perhaps ask your doctor about low sex drive rather than ED, and see if that triggers any ideas.

      • Thanks so much Ethan for your quick response. I can confirm that my sex drive had decreased as well after starting on Lisinopril, so will have to look into that as this along with some increased stress (as my doctor had pointed out) could be the cause. In the follow up appointment that I had mentioned my doctor took me off Lisinopril (not only b/c of my suspected side effects but also b/c my BP was back to normal ~120/80 levels) and things seemed to have gotten better. I haven’t had an opportunity to put it to the final test yet lol, but hopefully I will be able to soon. Of course I’m going to be nervous about having issues now, so hopefully that doesn’t screw me up too much.

        What was your experience like with L-Arginine supplements? I did some googling on it after reading your article and it looks like that it not only helps with ED but can also help with high BP (since it increases blood flow). My BP has ticked up a bit since stopping the Lisinopril (still within acceptable levels) so thinking of asking my doctor if I should start on L-Arginine to maybe kill 2 birds with 1 stone.

        • Hi Rich
          No problem, sorry this reply is delayed though – I’ve been away this week. For me, things that increase blood flow definitely seem to help. I had some good results with the L-Arginine, though it doesn’t always work. But having now tried various meds that work by increasing blood flow specifically, I now know that for me it’s an effective way to tackle the problem. Do check with your doctor that it’s a safe option for you though considering the BP.

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