Having trouble “getting it up” even though you’re a young man? Don’t worry, it’s normal!
One of the most important things to appreciate is that this happens to many people and nothing is necessarily wrong with your body.
The process of getting an erection is controlled by a part of your nervous system that is out of your conscious control. It is called the parasympathetic nervous system.
The parasympathetic nervous system is sometimes called the “feed and breed” nervous system, because it directs blood to the stomach and genitals when you’re eating or mating.
It has a “brother” nervous system called the sympathetic nervous system that is again out of your conscious control. This nervous system is called the “fight or flight” nervous system, because it activates in times of stress.
Stress comes in many forms, originally when we were cavemen, stress came in the form of a predator. So the fight or flight nervous system causes your heart to pump hard and direct blood to your muscles and brain to fight off the predator, or run away.
The biggest problem with these two nervous systems is that they don’t like being active at the same time, which is why this problem arises.
In the modern world, stress can come in the form of nerves about performing sex. This means that blood is in your muscles instead of your genitals and hence why the erection is not achieved.
So, one of the best ways to alleviate this is to be honest with your partner about nerves and understanding yourself that it is natural.
Another way is to promote the activation of your parasympathetic nervous system. This can be done by:
• Eating food
• Focusing on your breathing to help relax
• Performing vasovagal reflexes
If you are finding that the problem persists, then consider going to your general practitioner, talking about the problem is the first step to tackling it and medication can be used as a last resort.
Sam Fitzpatrick Final Year Medical Student, Cardiff University.
Milad Rouf Final Year Medical Student, Cardiff University.
G. Pocock et al. 4th edition 2014, Chapter 11, Autonomic Nervous System, Chapter 13, Male and Female reproductive physiology.