Getting an erection can be hard
When you stop and think about it, erections are fairly fascinating things. When a guy is sexually aroused, blood flows into the chambers within his penis, engorging it, making it hard.
When you’re in the mood, ready for action, the clothes have come off, and it’s go-time, getting an erection shouldn’t really be something you’re consciously thinking about — your body knows what to do.
However, for a lot of guys it’s not that simple.
‘About one in ten men will experience some form of erectile dysfunction…’ explains medical adviser Dr Hilary Jones. ‘As there’s both a psychological and a physical element to getting an erection, the specific reason why a man is having difficulty either achieving or maintaining an erection may be fairly complex and not always immediately apparent.’
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I’ve been thinking about erections a lot recently. Well, maybe a bit more than usual anyway.
Health professionals generally talk about erections in degrees of hardness. There’s usually four categories — from soft to hard — Tofu, Peeled Banana, Banana, or Cucumber. An incredibly simple but effective system, it’s an easy way to visualise and articulate what’s going on with your body.
Most of the time I’d describe myself as Banana, on a good day it would be Cucumber, on a bad day Tofu. The trouble with stepping up to the plate with anything less than a rock-hard Cucumber, particularly for queer guys, is that anal sex can get a bit awkward. ‘You’re a bit of a swashbuckler!’ was how one of my ex-boyfriends described it, as we unsuccessfully tried to get down to business.
‘While some erection problems are health-related, quite often lifestyle plays an important part…’ advises health professional Matthew Hodson. ‘We know that smoking, recreational drugs, and alcohol can all have an impact on sexual performance, but also so can stress and anxiety. It’s a bit of a vicious cycle — the more you worry about your erection, the less likely you are to be able to get one.’
I always used to get particularly nervous when having sex with someone for the first time. Generally over-thinking the mechanics of it all, instead of just going with it and getting lost in the moment.
I discussed it with my local doctor sort of by accident. I was having my annual health check-up and was given a general questionnaire to fill out. I ticked ‘Sometimes’ to a question along the lines of ‘Do you ever have any problems maintaining an erection.’ My doctor did a few extra tests but ultimately decided that it was probably just a bit of anxiety at play — there was no physical reason why maintaining an erection would be a problem. She prescribed a low-level dose of Viagra.
I don’t want to over-sell it, I’ve only used it a couple of times, but it’s been a bit of a game-changer. If I’m feeling a bit run-down, had a few too many drinks, or just feeling a bit apprehensive about hooking up with someone new, it’s an incredible confidence boost to know that you’re bringing your A-game to the table.
I am Cucumber. It’s go-time!