What Causes Loss of Erection During Sex: Why You Can't Stay Hard

Sometimes men are unable to stay hard when getting intimate. But what causes loss of erection during sex? Discover the causes of mild ED and the treatments that may help.

The Promescent Team
Hands on, practical experience – this is our expertise
by The Promescent Team Last updated 12/11/2023

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When you’re excited and ready for sex, the last thing you want to worry about is whether your erection will last or not. Unfortunately, many men suffer from a form of erectile dysfunction (ED) where the penis goes soft sooner than desired.

Since most men think of ED as being unable to achieve an erection at all, milder forms of ED are often overlooked.

However, it’s not uncommon for men to go soft too quickly despite adequate stimulation.

Quick FAQs

Erectile dysfunction is the inability to obtain or maintain an erection. If you lose your erection during sex, you may have a mild form of ED.

This mild form of ED shares similar causes to more severe ED, such as physical health issues, mental health issues and lifestyle choices.

Mild ED can be treated with making healthy lifestyle changes, erectile dysfunction medication, counseling, and supplements.

To help, this guide will cover everything you need to know about erection loss during intercourse. We’ll go over why it occurs, how it can be prevented, and how men can maintain their erection to ensure that sex lasts as long as they desire.

With these tips, you’ll never have to worry about cutting date-night short again, and you’ll help reclaim your sexual confidence as you gain the tools to keep your erection all throughout the night.

Losing an Erection During Sex: Is it Erectile Dysfunction?

Clinically, erectile dysfunction (ED) is defined as the chronic or frequent inability to achieve or maintain an erection.

Some studies have found that nearly 52% over 40 have some form of ED, making it a highly prevalent problem.

Most commonly, ED refers to situations where a man is incapable of achieving an erection when desired. However, there are different levels of severity, and the inability to maintain an erection also counts as a form of ED.

Despite being less severe, being unable to maintain an erection throughout intercourse can lead to a number of problems including:

  • Low self-esteem
  • Sexual dissatisfaction
  • Frustration
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Relationship complications

Since ED treatments often focus on men who cannot achieve an erection at all, those with infrequent or short-lasting erections may feel unsure of how to solve their problem.

However, the cause of erection loss is similar to the cause of general ED, which means the treatment options are often very similar as well.

What Causes Loss of Erection During Sex

An erection is when the penis is filled with blood, elongated, and becomes stronger than its flaccid state.

An erection can occur from sexual stimulation, either physical or mental, or it can be a random occurrence. An erection can even occur while a male is sleeping.

However, there’s a number of reasons why a man may not be able to maintain an erection despite being aroused and desiring sex, such as anxiety or diabetes.

In some cases, even a lack of sleep or certain medications can affect erection quality. Here are a few of the issues to consider:

Physical Health Issues

Unfortunately, a number of physical health conditions can affect your erection, and many of them have nothing to do with the genital region at all.

Some physical health issues that can cause ED include:

  • Cardiovascular Issues
  • Kidney Disease
  • Hormone Imbalances
  • Peyronie’s Disease
  • Prostate Cancer Treatment
  • Parkinson’s Disease

Let’s break down these issues in more detail to help give a complete picture:

Cardiovascular Issues

Cardiovascular issues can directly affect the penis and erectile functioning, and these include:

  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Aortic disease

Many of these conditions are very serious, and require treatment from a medical professional. Likewise, any attempt to cure ED while dealing with a cardiovascular issue should be approved by a doctor beforehand.

Kidney Disease

Kidney disease may lead to ED due to its effects on hormones and the circulatory system. Some medications used to treat kidney disease may also cause ED.

Hormone Imbalance

Any hormonal imbalance can potentially lead to ED in men. Low Testosterone is often the most well known example. In the case of Low T, a man may experience:

  • Erectile dysfunction
  • A low libido
  • Low energy
  • Reduced strength

Neurological Disorders

Neurological disorders, such as Alzheimer's or Multiple Sclerosis, may lead to ED as they can affect nerves related to erections and arousal.

Peyronie’s Disease

Peyronie’s disease is when scar tissue accumulates within the penis, causing curved or potentially painful erections.

In some cases, the scar tissue may hinder blood flow causing weaker or shorter lasting erections.

Pro Tip: VitaFLUX Nitric Oxide Booster helps to relax blood vessels and allow more blood flow through increased nitric oxide production.

In most cases, Peyronie’s can only be fixed through surgery.

Prostate Cancer Treatment

Many of the treatments for prostate cancer may cause temporary or permanent ED. Some potential causes for failed erections include:

  • Prostate cancer medications
  • Surgery
  • Radiation
  • Chemotherapy

Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson's disease affects the central nervous system and the overall functioning of the body. Along with the often progressive loss of control, many patients with Parkinson's often experience ED along with reduced sexual functioning.

Mental Health Issues

Arousal is often mental, which means certain mental health conditions may hinder your ability to be aroused, causing erections to be shorter lasting and weaker in general. Some of these conditions include:

  • Stress and Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Relationship Problems

Stress and Anxiety

Both stress and anxiety have been shown to have a negative impact on male libido and sexual functioning.


Depression can drastically lower libido and may potentially cause erectile dysfunction in some men.

One effect of depression is anhedonia, which is the loss of pleasure during normally enjoyable activities. This effect may also make intercourse more difficult or unappealing at times.

Relationship Problems

Any problems in a relationship can lead to stress and anxiety, which in turn may lead to erectile dysfunction in some cases.


One study looked at how much anger affects sexual desire and arousal. Based on the results, researchers concluded that anger is the primary mechanism through which sexual arousal is inhibited.

Lifestyle Choices

Many negative lifestyle choices can also make you more likely to lose an erection during sex, and this includes:

  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Excessive Drinking (Alcohol)


Obesity has been shown to be negative for men's sexual health. ED is a common problem for obese males, and slowly losing weight may help to regain erection strength and duration.


Researchers note that evidence from multiple studies suggests that being a current smoker may increase the risk of ED. 

Smoking tobacco can harm your circulatory system, which can lead to ED and difficulties maintaining erections.

Excessive Drinking

Excessive alcohol consumption is very damaging to the body, causing high blood pressure and stroke, which are risk factors of ED.

Researchers who reviewed 46 studies concluded there was a significant association between ED and alcohol consumption.

While stopping drinking is important, it’s also crucial that you do so under a professional’s supervision, as abrupt alcohol withdrawal can be dangerous for some people.


Despite being necessary in some cases, certain medications may make it more difficult to keep an erection during intercourse. Keep in mind that you should not go off of any medication without speaking to your doctor beforehand. 

Let them know if you’re experiencing any signs of ED. Some common medications that can cause ED include:

  • Antidepressants (SSRI’s)
  • Antihistamines
  • High Blood Pressure Medication
  • Chemotherapy and Hormonal Medication


Many antidepressants, such as SSRI’s, can cause reduced sexual functioning due to their effects on serotonin throughout the body.

Some common side effects include:

  • Reduced libido
  • Trouble maintaining an erection
  • Delayed orgasm or ejaculation

Your doctor may recommend a different dosage or similar medication that may reduce the risk of sexual side effects and still provide mental health benefits. 


Certain antihistamines, which are used to fight against allergies, may cause ED in some men. Some of the most common antihistamines that can cause impotence include:

Antihistamine blocks the action of histamine, which helps support healthy erections. If you experience ED while taking these products, it may be worth asking your doctor for a less strong antihistamine such as Loratadine (Claritin).

High Blood Pressure Medication

Medications for high blood pressure can affect your circulatory system, which may increase the risk of losing an erection during sex. 

Harvard University Health article notes that ED is an occasional side effect of blood pressure drugs because they can decrease blood flow to the penis.

Chemotherapy and Hormone Medication

Chemotherapy can cause neural and vasculature damage, which can result in erectile dysfunction. Hormone therapy can lead to lower amounts of testosterone, making it more difficult to get and maintain an erection.

Recreational Drugs

Many recreational drugs have been shown to increase the risk of erectile dysfunction, including:

  • Marijuana
  • Cocaine
  • Heroine


One major study suggests that ED is nearly twice as prevalent amongst cannabis users compared to a sober control group.

For longer-lasting erections, it may be worthwhile to refrain from using marijuana to see if symptoms improve.


Cocaine causes intense vasoconstriction, which means that blood vessels tighten and reduce overall blood flow. Over time, this can lead to severe ED and other sexual dysfunctions.


While researchers aren’t sure why, they concluded that opioids like heroin can cause ED. One theory is that it’s caused by the acute suppression of LH release from the pituitary, which can lead to a secondary drop in testosterone levels.

How to Treat Loss of Erection During Intercourse

Erectile dysfunction doesn’t have to be permanent in most cases, but it often requires lifestyle changes or medication to overcome it.

Whether you’re suffering from the inability to gain an erection, or are unable to maintain it throughout intercourse, the following tips may help you prevent erection loss during sex:

  • Lifestyle Changes
  • Counseling
  • ED Medication
  • المكملات

Lifestyle Changes

Changing your life in a more healthy direction can be a tremendous benefit to your overall well-being, and it may even lead to improvements in ED. Some lifestyle changes to consider include:

  • Getting enough sleep
  • Staying hydrated
  • Reducing alcohol
  • Reducing sugar
  • Losing weight
  • Exercising for at least 15 minutes a day


ED can sometimes stem from mental issues, such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Relationship troubles

Speaking with a counselor can help you work through the potential psychological and emotional causes of erectile dysfunction. 

One study found that couples who stuck with sex therapy resulted in an improvement in erectile function.

ED Medication

There are a number of highly researched ED medications available that are safe and effective. However, they generally require a prescription due to their cardiovascular effects.

These medications work by addressing one of the main erection loss causes, which is a lack of blood flow into the penis. 

By loosening the blood vessel walls and increasing blood flow throughout the body, these medications help men achieve an erection and maintain it for longer periods of time. Some common erectile dysfunction medications include:


Certain supplements that contain ingredients, such as L-arginine, may be helpful in improving erectile function.

One study that did a systemic review of arginine supplements noted that it was found to be effective for mild to moderate ED.


From physical issues to psychological setbacks, along with often required medications for serious diseases, there are unfortunately a lot of potential causes for having trouble with erections.

While it may take time to find the root cause of the problem, there are luckily more resources than ever for treating ED. Whether through lifestyle changes or with ED meds, it is possible to increase your erection time and strength in the bedroom.

Remember to always consult with a doctor before treating ED so you can safely regain your confidence and stamina.

The Promescent Team

The Promescent Team

Our team has over a decade of experience in the sexual wellness field and are experts in sexual dysfunctions, like premature ejaculation. We help couples and individuals better understand treatment options available for different types of sexual needs and educate the public on all things related to intimacy. All of our authored content is medically reviewed for accuracy and reliability.


Absorption Pharmaceuticals LLC (Promescent) has strict informational citing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic or research institutions, medical associations, and medical experts. We attempt to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references and only citing trustworthy sources. Each article is reviewed, written, and updated by Medical Professionals or authoritative Experts in a specific, related field of practice. You can find out more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy.

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The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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