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Sexual problems

a couple with their arms around each other

Having sex is not always straightforward, and many people will experience difficulty with sex at some point in their lives.

Whatever the problem is it will probably help to talk it over with your partner, as they’ll be affected too.

In many cases doctors or counsellors can help you with your problem.

Problems with erections

There aren't many men who can claim to always get, and keep, a rock solid erection. 

Erections can be hard to get or maintain for a variety of reasons – this is known as erectile dysfunction.

Tiredness, anxiety, stress or too much alcohol are often the main culprits.

If this has happened to you, try to remember that this doesn’t mean it is going to happen again.

If this is an ongoing problem, then you might find it helpful to talk to a doctor to check there is no physical cause like high blood pressure.

Finishing too soon

Another problem most men experience at some point in their sex lives is ejaculating (coming) more quickly than they or their partner would like.

This is known as premature ejaculation and is quite common with younger men.

It is often caused by feeling anxious, or feeling very sexually excited.

Premature ejaculation may become less of a problem once you feel more comfortable and confident having sex, and lots of men also find self-help techniques useful - NHS Choices suggest a few tips.

You can ask your doctor for more help if this is an ongoing concern.


Pain during sex

Some women find that having penetrative sex can be painful, and there can be a number of different causes of this.

One cause is having sex before you feel properly aroused or lubricated. Making sure that there has been plenty of foreplay and/or using extra lubricant can often help.

If penetration is completely impossible because of pain, this could be caused by a condition called vaginismus, which may have physical or psychological causes.

If you are finding sex painful, or experiencing bleeding during or after sex, it is important to speak to a doctor as these could be signs of an infection. 


Not in the mood

You might have times in your life when you are less interested in sex than you would like to be.

It’s normal for your sexual appetite to change over time, and it can be affected by all sorts of things, such as stress, alcohol and drug use or tiredness.

If you have lost interest in sex, don’t panic - it doesn’t mean that you’ll never want to have sex again.

Sometimes you can become less interested in sex because it’s all got a bit boring in the bedroom, so it may just be a matter of exploring new things or fantasies with your partner.

However, if the problem persists, it could be helpful to speak to a doctor as there may be a physical or psychological cause (such as depression) which they can help you with.


Need help?

If you or your partner are experiencing these or other sexual problems, you can talk to someone on our confidential helpline. THT Direct is open from 10am to 8pm from Monday to Friday on 0808 802 1221.

You can also call the Sexual Advice Association or read some of their factsheets on common sexual problems.


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The Information Standard: Certified member

This article was last reviewed on 1/12/2015 by Anna Peters

Date due for the next review: 1/12/2018

Content Author: Allison Macbeth

Current Owner: Health Promotion

More information:

Sexual Advice Association. Premature ejaculation. 2011

Sexual Advice Association. Painful sex or dyspareunia. 2011

Erectile dysfunction. NHS. 2014

Erectile dysfunction - causes. NHS. 2014

Vaginismus. NHS. 2015

Vaginismus - causes. NHS. 2015

Why does sex hurt? NHS. 2015

Loss of libido. NHS. 2015

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