(Article medically reviewed by Dr. Zac Hyde M.D)
The idea of going soft mid-coitus is one of the biggest fears men have. However, it does happen – and it can happen to men of all ages, fitness levels, and backgrounds.
So, what’s the reason for the air being let out of your bang balloon? The answer might not be as simple as you’d like. In this article, we’ll discuss 10 different reasons men go soft during sex.
First Things First: Let’s Review the Ingredients for an Erection
When it comes to solving boner-related blunders, I find it helpful to go over the specific things that you need to have happening in your body for an erection to take place.
When you either fail to get hard or – as we’re discussing here – suddenly lose your erection when you shouldn’t, it’s typically because one of these “ingredients” isn’t there.
- Arousal – We’re going to be talking about this a lot, because what arouses you can change drastically during your life. Suffice to say, you need to be stimulated mentally, physically, emotionally, or some combination of the three for your penis to react accordingly.
- Blood – Your penis is full of elastic chambers that fill with blood as you become aroused. This requires the veins and arteries in your groin to do some serious work. Not only do they need to be healthy and clear of obstructions, but they also need to properly “seal” at the base of your penis to lock the blood in. More on this later…
- Healthy Tissue – Your penis is mostly made up of sponge-like tissue that is specifically designed to expand and contract. However, if these tissues are damaged by internal or external forces, it can result in erectile issues. That said, when this happens, it is more likely than not going to keep you from getting an erection, not maintaining one.
- Nitric Oxide – Ah, the “secret ingredient” to every good hard-on. Nitric oxide is a “signaling molecule.” It’s what your brain uses to tell the muscles in your penis to relax. Without it, blood can’t get in (or in some cases, stay in). So if you’re NO is No bueno, you can’t expect to perform at full capacity.
Could it Be ED?
Over the years, I’ve written hundreds of articles about erectile dysfunction. In that time, I’ve talked about internal causes, health problems, and all sorts of environmental factors that can take the lead out of your pencil.
But here’s the problem, when men find themselves “going soft” in the middle of the act, they often head online and start reading “pop psychology” blogs looking for an explanation.
And guess what? They almost always list the culprit as erectile dysfunction.
Trouble is, if you go soft during sex, you had to have been hard at some point before that.
However, when a man has ED, it’s the getting hard that usually poses the biggest problem. In my experience, there’s got to be something else at work here.
In fact, losing an erection during sex is usually tied to something much less dramatic.
So while it’s possible that ED could be contributing to your issues, you shouldn’t just assume that your penis has stopped working entirely.
You Need to Look at All the Factors That Cause Men to Go Soft During Sex
As we move forward with this article, we’re going to discuss several factors that can contribute to erectile failure. But before we git into that, I want you to consider a few things.
For example, are you in a brand new relationship? If so, you should remember that failure to perform during the first round or two is a surprisingly common problem.
So, if you’ve just hooked up with somebody, don’t sweat this too much. It’s usually just your nerves.
And I can tell you from years of experience in this industry that performance anxiety has softened harder men than you, my friend. It’s nothing to be ashamed of and certainly nothing to call your doctor about.
Once your brain stops sabotaging you and you lose the fear you’re going to be just fine.
That said, if you’re in a long-term relationship — or if you’ve had this sort of trouble for a while — I suggest you read on. The solution to your problem is most likely listed below.
Let’s take a look at the 10 most common reasons men go soft during sex.
1. You Get Psyched Out (Mental ED)
We talked about this briefly in the last section but mostly tied it to the pressures involved in sleeping with someone new. But what happens when you’re in it for the long haul and still having issues with your “Longfellow?”
Well, you should know that one of the biggest reasons why men lose their erections during sex is that they simply get “psyched out.”
It’s not unlike playing sports.
If you step up to the plate with the mentality that you’re going to fail, you will most likely whiff every single pitch.
Why? Because you’re letting all the pressure go to “the wrong head.” This is called “Metal ED.”
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with you physically, but your boner still bails on you because you’re too focused on potential failure to allow room for success.
The worst part about Mental ED is that it has a cumulative effect that tends to create vicious cycles for the men who suffer from it.
To stick with the baseball metaphor, it’s a bit like striking out every at-bat for five games in a row. The next time you walk up to the plate, you’re probably going to be thinking about all those failures.
So what do you end up with? A self-reinforcing cycle of self-doubt and soft wood.
But here’s the funny thing. This is incredibly common. In fact, I can think of three sitcoms off the top of my head that have built entire episodes around it!
Fortunately, it’s also one of the easier issues on this list to solve. All you need to do is give yourself a freaking break! Don’t be so hard on yourself (especially if you want to “be hard” on others).
Remember, sex is supposed to be fun! Fool around a little bit (or even a lot) before you go for the gold. Take your time, and maybe learn to love giving oral or fingering.
If your performance anxiety is tied to pleasing your partner, you could get them close to the finish line before you even attempt penetration. Trust me: once you relax and enjoy yourself, life will come back to your lower limb.
2. Alcohol Can Make You Go Soft During Sex
“Absinthe makes the penis go wander” isn’t an old saying, but it should be. Why? Because science has been very clear about how drinking too much alcohol can ruin your erections in two very specific ways…
First, you have the short term. As with everything else about your body, alcohol slows things down. So even if you have just a couple drinks, it makes your erections a bit slower to arrive.
But that’s not all. It also makes them weaker in quality and shorter in duration.
Multiple studies have demonstrated this, including research at the University of Washington that specifically identified how alcohol changes your blood circulation.
Blood and arousal, right? Those are two of the factors we mentioned at the beginning of this article, and alcohol messes with them both!
And while that’s bad enough, the long-term effects of drinking are even worse. Year after year, study after study has found a direct correlation between chronic drinking and erectile dysfunction.
Not does regular alcohol consumption seriously mess with your dopamine (happy chemicals), but it lowers your overall blood volumes, causes dehydration (which makes your blood harder to pump), and prematurely ages your arteries and veins.
After just a few years, your heart is working harder to pump thick blood through arteries that look like a New York subway.
It’s not exactly part of the recipe for a great erection, and it’s very difficult to reverse the issues once they take hold.
All in all, I suggest you seriously cut back on your drinking if you want to get back in the sex saddle.
That means eliminating binges entirely. If possible, try to have a drink with dinner a few times a week.
I know it’s hard, but if you want to prioritize your sack time, you need to make some changes to your social life.
3. SSRIs Can Make You Go Soft During Sex
SSRIs are some of the most commonly prescribed anti-depressants, and they are typically used in an attempt to help people with severe clinical depression.
They carry names like Prozac, Cipramil, Cirpralex, and Lustral.
But despite how quick most doctors are to shell these pills out to their patients, they rarely mention that sexual dysfunction is one of the most common side effects of taking them.
You see, SSRIs directly interfere with the pleasure hormones in your brain.
In fact, this is less of a “side effect” in that regard and more what they’re specifically designed to do. After all, that’s how they counteract the hormonal and neurotransmitter problems that cause medical depression.
But here’s the thing: anytime something messes with your brain chemicals, it can interfere with everything else we need our brain to do. This is especially true of our “pleasure responses.”
What do I mean by that? I’m talking about all those chemicals related to orgasm, erections, and sexual response.
See where I’m going here? Your anti-depressants could be draining your main vein right at the source: arousal.
It’s the very first thing on our list of “erection ingredients” because, without it, you’re either not going to get hard or – if you manage that – not going to stay hard for very long.
So what can you do about it? Well, if you truly have a true medical need for SSRIs that can’t be avoided, there’s not much in the way of a direct solution to this problem.
In that case, your best bet is to buttress the problem by improving other lifestyle factors such as diet, sleep, exercise, relationship, and – as mentioned above – alcohol use.
Your mental and erectile health will improve, and you might even end up reducing your depression symptoms.
4. You’re Having Too Much Vanilla Sex
Let’s face it: sometimes you just get bored. While many of us do our best not to admit it: too much of the same kind of sex, with the same person, over and over again, can simply cause you to lose interest.
If you let this get severe enough, it can end up causing you to go soft during the act.
Again, this is a problem that affects the arousal component of the “erection recipe.” In order to have really good sex, we need our brains engaged (and thoroughly excited about) what’s going on.
If you aren’t getting excited enough (or are straight-up bored) by what’s going on, you aren’t going to keep your penis in the game for long.
This is a hard one (no pun intended) for a lot of reasons. You might be married or in a long-term committed relationship. What are you going to do? Ask if her hot coworker can join?
It’s tough to talk about what you want in bed and even harder to tell someone you care about that they aren’t “doing it for you.”
This is why so many men end up turning to porn and seriously messing up their arousal centers, worsening the problem.
However, you do need to find a way to spice things up a bit and get your brain and boner back on board with regular coupling.
Now, I’m not saying you need to go to bed tonight with jumper cables in your hands, but you should try new positions, switch locations, rent a hotel room, use toys, or even talk dirty to one another once in a while.
Chances are if you’re bored with vanilla sex and afraid to mention it, your partner is feeling the same way. In the end, novelty is your best remedy if your sex life has fallen into a rut.
And who knows? She and her coworker might be into it.
5. She’s Too Wet
When you were seventeen, a strong wind and a Victoria’s Secret ad could keep you hard for an hour. But as a grown man, you need a little friction to keep your soldier standing at attention.
But here’s the thing: if your woman is excessively wet, it will seriously reduce that friction you crave, causing your erection to do a disappearing act.
It seems counterintuitive, as wetness is one of the most important aspects of sex.
However, if her self-lubrication operation is working overtime, it can feel like you’re trying to thrust into a slip and slide.
Now, this excessive wetness is often caused by estrogen dominance, an imbalance in her hormones that leads to excessive vaginal lubrication.
So while it might be a hard discussion to have, the solution is to have her bump up her progesterone levels, which usually fixes the problem within a couple of weeks.
Again, you need to be careful about how you explain this problem to your partner. Be honest, compassionate, and – above all – solution-oriented.
No doubt she’s noticed that you’re going soft during copulation and will be relieved to realize it’s just a physical issue with an easy fix, not a lack of attraction.
6. Her Vagina Has Atrophied
This happens in post-menopausal women and works a lot like the excessive wetness issue above. You see, when a woman’s body produces fewer sex hormones, it eventually leads to a thinner, looser vaginal wall.
The end result is reduced friction for you, which can seriously hinder stimulation and cause your erection to bail mid-bone.
As with the excessive wetness issue, the solution is to this problem s bioidentical hormone replacement or something similar.
This essentially helps her body to produce more sex hormones, allowing her vaginal Wall to return to normal.
Still, I recommend you really put on your “empathy hat” when you talk to her about these problems. If she is post-menopausal, she likely already has a lot of insecurity about her body and how it’s changing.
Make sure she knows that this isn’t a problem with her but simply a relationship challenge that the two of you need to overcome together.
7. Your Dopamine Receptors are Damaged
We talked about dopamine briefly in our SSRI section, but it’s important to take a much closer look at this vital mental chemical.
You see, dopamine is one of the core neural substances responsible for sexual arousal and erections. When your receptors (which adhere to cells and allow chemicals to affect them) are damaged, it can lead to a number of major problems.
Chief among them? Going soft during sex.
So, how do you damage your dopamine receptors? Well, one example is boredom. We already talked about this, but it bears repeating for those of you who might be reluctant to talk about spicing things up with your partner.
There’s also screen addiction, excessive masturbation, frequent use of hardcore pornography, substance abuse, and various mood disorders.
The good news? This one is usually easily reversed. Once you identify which of the dopamine-damaging factors is causing the problem, you simply need to eliminate or significantly reduce that factor’s influence on your life.
For instance, you can solve a lot of problems by simply going out and doing stuff. Get your blood pumping and dig yourself out of that lifestyle rut. Turn off your damn phone, computer, and TV once in a while.
Fap only half as often as you do now and try to do it without the overstimulation of hardcore, unrealistic pornography.
Stay the course, and you’ll quickly see your erections come back.
8. A Negative Relationship Can Make You Go Soft
Here’s a news flash: sex is better when you actually like the person you’re having sex with.
In fact, forcing yourself to do it over and over again with a demanding, negative partner can make sex so bad your penis just throws in the towel.
Even a relationship with a good partner can that just so happens to be in a negative space can cause serious problems.
It could be stress, underlying problems with money, or even just a bad mood, but your penis will pick up on those vibes and retreat like a frightened turtle.
Sure, this information might seem to come from the “well, duh,” department, but it’s worth mentioning because of how common (and how often ignored) it is.
Because here’s the deal: if you’re in a relationship with a fundamentally negative woman, it’s going to mess you up mentally sooner or later. When that happens, your penis will be one of the first body parts to abandon ship.
On a personal note: if you’re dealing with a toxic relationship, get out! Life’s too short, and you don’t need to drink up negativity all day and long.
However, if your relationship is mostly good but in a negative space at the moment, you don’t need to bail completely.
However, you do need to sit down and work with your partner in order to reach a more positive space.
9. Tobacco Addiction Can Make You Go Soft During Sex
Cigarette packs in the US only have to put a small little warning on the back to tell you about all the terrible stuff it’s doing to your body.
However, if you buy smokes in Europe or Canada, you’re sure to see entire packs covered with rotted teeth, blackened lungs, and cigarettes doing their best impressions of a flaccid, hanging penis.
Why? Because smoking tobacco jacks up your erectile function in all kinds of ways.
For starters, it damages the lining of your blood vessels, which we already mentioned makes it way harder for your heart to pump blood through them.
This interferes with your ability to get and keep that red boner juice in your erection.
On top of that, smoking cigarettes can seriously hinder nitric oxide production.
We mentioned at the beginning of the article how this member of our “Big 4” is responsible for alerting our lower brain that the upper brain is aroused. Without enough of it, you could be sitting in a Swedish brothel and still not stand at attention.
Lastly, of course, smoking can kill you. I mean, it’s pretty hard to keep an iron stiffy in the grave, right? Fortunately, the solution is easy: freakin’ quit smoking. If you can’t quit, switch to vaping.
It’s still not great for you, but it’s a big improvement over cigarettes.
10. You Have a Serious Medical Condition
OK, for our last factor, we’re going to move into the “here’s some really bad news” department. You see, there is literally a laundry list of serious medical issues that can cause erectile problems.
Among the most common are cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure (source).
As you might have noticed, these examples impact your circulation, which we’ve discussed at length is a major part of the erectile process.
Then you have those illnesses that don’t impact your erection directly but require medication that does. Remember, like we said when we were talking about SSRIs, your brain and body chemistry is a delicate thing.
The more outside chemicals you throw at it, the more likely you’ll be to experience erectile issues.
But here’s the really bad news: there’s not much you can do directly about your softening in this case.
You can’t wake up tomorrow without hypertension, and those drugs that are keeping your penis on the bench instead of in the game where he belongs are often saving your life.
Again, I recommend you work on making lifestyle changes that can improve the general quality of your health and your erections.
In most cases, those same lifestyle elements can reduce the impact and symptoms of the medical issue.
Why Men Go Soft During Sex: Conclusion
If you give your situation some real honest thought, keeping in mind the contents of the list above, you’ll find the reason why you go soft during sex.
The next step is figuring out what to do about it, then doing whatever it takes to resolve the situation.
Staying hard, finishing strong, and general bedroom mojo are just around the corner. All you have to do is want it bad enough to make it happen.