Sexual dysfunction


Has anyone experienced a situation where they’re about to be intimate with a partner and their erection just disappears? This happened to me recently and it’s become a bit of a pattern, I’m straight but I was abused by a man when I was a child.

I used to think it was health related but even though I’m 50 I’m in pretty good shape, plus I have no trouble getting erections by myself.

The more it happens, the more I think I’ll end up alone and wil be unable to satisfy my partner. It really shatters me inside and I can see this leading me down a dark road of isolation and sadness.
Yup. This usually happens to me as well. I'm also 50. My partner knows it's because of the PTSD, but it's still been very difficult for both of us.

I've been treating it with medical marijuana and Viagra with about 25% success. Plus EMDR and talk therapy. This life domain is really the only place my PTSD really manifests itself anymore, but I cannot get a handle on it. Some days I think I'm going to explode with frustration.
I have suffered with this for many years. While I am able to become aroused initially the more intimate we become the worse it gets. It doesn't help that I am full of anxiety when trying to be intimate. I have no solution.
I've had no difficulty when actively seducing a woman. The problems begin once I've married them (there have been four) and the seduction is over. Gradually my ardor would diminish and I would turn my attention to some form of sexual acting out that invariably included masturbation. I understand this is all rooted in sexual trauma I experienced as a boy. You're certainly not alone with this sad dilemma. Solving this problem I expect would include working through trauma related issues AND having a partner willing to explore with us how we might allow our sexual feelings to emerge. I know when I did sensate focusing with my fourth wife after I'd begun therapy and uncovered the sexual trauma I experienced as a boy, that the moment I became hard my body was flooded with terror. I've no doubt that terror came from the trauma. I expect I still carry that in my body. I'm quite a bit older than you are and my libido is going south all by itself, so I'm not expecting I'll have a successful sexual relationship before I die. This is the sad truth about the trauma I experienced. I don't say that will be the case for every man, however. Do the work here and see where it takes you.

Steve E.

This is the exact topic that I came here looking for today.

My sex life was pretty good until about 3 years ago when I finally began to face what I so dreaded all my life. Now I often tremble violently when I even think about sex. The other night I was triggered right in the middle of an encounter that was going well until that moment - suddenly I couldn’t stand to be touched - I almost leapt out of bed. My wife knows what’s going on with me and is very patient and understanding (thank God), but for how long? And I’m not ready to give up on sexual enjoyment yet (I’m 68, so part of my problem is probably age-related). It’s so frustrating to feel that that in many ways I’m doing better than I have for most of my life, but can’t seem to figure this part out at all. I feel desire, but can’t satisfy it. Perhaps this is just another facet of my fear of intimacy.

Koko Joe

Seems like no matter who I'm with (either sex) I have to be in an altered state for anything to work the way it should. Weed or booze does the trick for me, otherwise I'm too inhibited.
It happens to me at times.


i hate admitting that for me it was cause i was hating myself as I used memories or fantasies so much. Then looking at my past being here i felt a lot of shame and hate at myself for it then I couldn’t perform. I think as others and my T told me i need to stop hating myself and know its ok then things got better. but i also have low T and have for 15 years so that was my first cause and testosterone therapy helped a lot not like just sex but energy and focus. So maybe besides thinking it is psychological maybe talk to your Dr about it. Could be hormones. At 35 i had ED.

Big Red

New Registrant
I am also a straight male who was abused as a preteen and teen by a trusted older male, It continued for a long time, to where I was in a cultish quasi-religious small group through most of my adulthood. It ended when he died. I spent 3 years trying to put my psyche back together and achieve my dream of being intimate with a woman.

I finally met a compassionate strong wonderful giving woman who loves me. I had the exact experience: initially aroused, but then the more naked and intimate we get, the more doubt, stage fright, and existential terror take over. I wasn't able to maintain an erection for intercourse for several months into our relationship. Then I lost my virginity with her, but still had difficulty after that. I finally confessed to her about everything, and she loved me even more for it. I think being totally open about your difficulties is crucial. If she can't handle it, then she isn't for you. But you might be surprised how understanding some women can be.

We went to couples counseling, where I also confessed everything to the therapist. Those sessions were immensely helpful. Our sex life was outstanding for about 2 years, until 2020. She was diagnosed with cancer, and COVID hit, both at the same time. Now she is unable to have sex for days at a time after chemo sessions, and not in the mood (understandably so) much of the remaining time. So now when we do have the opportunity, I have difficulty again. I think the stress of her illness, combined with the pandemic, unemployment, and the lack of consistency in our sex life all combined to give me a triple-whammy. Since I'm already in a tenuous position to begin with, any additional stressors only exacerbate the problem. I'm probably going to start getting therapy again.

P.S. I also was addicted to Porn, and tried the whole NoFap/reboot/flatlining thing. It actually seemed to help, especially when I would go for days/weeks without touching my penis at all except when absolutely necessary (cleaning/peeing/etc). But I think the psychological issues are the primary cause. Porn is probably just another symptom, but which also exacerbates the problem.
Stress is a killer of libido and unfortunately we are living in a time of great stress on many levels. I really appreciate what you share Big Red... this is the absolute truth. No, porn doesn't help. In reality it is a means used by trauma survivors to abandon our bodies and memories. It will never bring us into the moment, which is the only place that intimacy can possibly happen. We may be able to fuck but we won't be present with our partner, which is called "love making." Coming to terms with sexual trauma is challenging and it takes the time it takes. It is good to cut ourselves some slack here... and be gentle with ourselves. As you say, a woman who isn't capable of being with us in that process is not a good life partner. I wish your friend well in her healing journey Big Red.


Trust is such a huge thing. Working with my T and finding out that kid in me didn't consider my wife of 20+ years as "safe" was eye-opening to me. And I feel so selfish at times because for things to work, it has to be "my way." By that I mean, I know what works best is when I have time to emotionally connect. To be seen, heard, understood, and loved. My love language is quality time, so that helps make that connection. The biggest issues are when she (very healthily, by the way) initiates out of the blue and mentally & emotionally I am nowhere ready. Not good - and doesn't help create trust the other direction either by the response I have very occasionally given. I have told her, "I am the stereotypical girl in the sexual part of our relationship. I need that connection first." And even then, of course, thoughts and feelings can invade that totally kill the moment. This is a tough issue for sure.
This happens to me. I'm gay and my abuse was by men, so it's especially bad when certain very common things trigger it. I won't give the laundry list of my triggers. I haven't had a sexual partner in over a year and the last time I had one, he just didn't seem to know how to deal with it. However, the boyfriend I had prior to him was really great about it. I guess it's been hit or miss for me with sexual partners, but there have been some who are really good about it. I started doing EMDR while I was with my last one just over a year ago and I got to the point where sex had to stop. It was the EMDR, but it was also him. He just got weird about sex and the things he knew were problematic for me because almost a fetish for him. Anyway, I broke it off and haven't wanted to try again since.

Big Red

New Registrant
It's almost bringing me to tears reading all of these responses and seeing that we all are dealing with almost the. Exact. Same. Thing. It feels so shameful being like this in a culture where men are supposed to be ready to go anytime, anyplace, and if you're not, then you must be some kind of neutered sissy who should be mocked and shunned by both sexes. To everybody here; I feel your pain, and wish I had a permanent, foolproof solution to share.


My situation was only tangentially / or more subtly sexual. My experience with sexual dissfunction involved, first and foremost putting it off. Wanted to "go all the way" but either avoided it or kept it at the level of petting/necking. Didn't manage to go all the way till almost 30. Haven't exactly had a lot of partners along the way either. Premature ejaculation was the other problem. Just necking could set me off. Depending on the lady I happened to be with it could be slightly embarrassing to humiliating.

Not exactly a disfunction but something that intruded into attempts at sex was a a sort of compulsive need to use the bathroom immediately before and after. I guess because much of the psycho-level abuse I experienced was based on bathroom denial by my mother and I went well into puberty as a bed-wetter the connection between sexual thoughts/feelings/erections and urinating were just too entrenched.
I marvel at the reality that for healthy people in relationship being sexual can be a playful occasion of sharing pleasurable body sensations that come from dancing intimately with a partner. That has NEVER been available for me. It has always been a performance of one sort or another with triggers I was really never aware existed. There was terror beneath arousal and I was completely unaware of its presence. It has been so much easier NOT being sexual in a relationship than navigating those very unsettling waters. Deep respect for anyone who can maintain a healthy sexual relationship while carrying the residue of trauma. As is clear from comments on this thread, it is challenging for most of us. Kindness is always a good idea in this arena.


Firstly I’d like to thank everyone for their responses. It’s a difficult journey and even just admitting it to yourself can be enough of a hurdle.

I wanted to share a bit of a discovery since my first post. I realised that when I was about to become intimate with a partner, my body was triggering a fear response in order to keep me safe from what it perceived to be a painful encounter.

So what I started doing is laying by myself and just imagining a sexual encounter and I noticed that there seemed to be an unprocessed trauma response that needed to reach completion. I say this as someone who grew up in an abusive household along side the sexual abuse from a neighbour, so I had no one to tell and so I just locked away the experience.

So when I let these feelings rise to the surface, the result was the following: I began feeling really hot, my heart was racing, my abdomen was trembling violently and my breathing became deep and uncontrollable, almost like deep sobbing without the tears.

I went through quite a few sessions of letting myself feel these strange sensations and the intensity seemed to become less and less every time. I’ve not had sex since I’ve been through this process but fingers crossed there will be some difference in my performance.
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While I look forward to being intimate, as soon as things start to go that way I'm immediately overcome with anxiety. I've suffered from poor body image & premature ejaculation as long as I've been able. My abuse was carried out over a long period of time by a supposed trusted adult male starting when I was ten. I am straight & married for 18+ years, but incredibly embarrassing & humiliating when unable to perform.


While I look forward to being intimate, as soon as things start to go that way I'm immediately overcome with anxiety. I've suffered from poor body image & premature ejaculation as long as I've been able. My abuse was carried out over a long period of time by a supposed trusted adult male starting when I was ten. I am straight & married for 18+ years, but incredibly embarrassing & humiliating when unable to perform.

I’m sorry that you experienced that, I too have struggled with body dysmorphia and constant mirror checking. Also used to think of myself as only from the neck up, as if the rest of my body didn’t exist, like it was too damaged to live in. My abuse started around the age of 5 and carried on till the age of 10/11.

I really suggest you try to allow yourself to feel the scary feelings that come after experiencing abuse but I’m no expert obviously. Check out The Body Keeps The Score, lots of resources and audio books on YouTube.

Also as a side note, I recently quit processed sugar and it has made such a huge difference, it’s staggering. One of the main changes was the mental clarity and the disappearance of 30 years of mind fog. Which helps with my mood and depressive, self destructive thoughts.

But I understand how daunting it is, being left to pick up the pieces of your life after someone tried to destroy you. The work is long but the breakthroughs are worth it. I outlived my rapist and I think about that a lot.
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It has happened to me a few times, even ruined one of the relationships I tried to have. To give you context, I was at a point in my life where I knew things happened, even though I thought had faced it, I had also just locked it away and hidden it so I wasn't really dealing with it.

Basically met this girl, we could be intimate remotely fine, like on the phone or texting. But then when we got in person, the most we could do with each other was oral and even that at times I didn't even feel comfortable doing it I felt like I was forcing myself so I would just feel normal. As soon as the idea of sex came up I would freak out on the inside and I could never figure out why, I ended up talking to a friend and he convinced me it wasn't what happened it was just that I was scared of getting her pregnant. I knew it wasn't that mainly because, if she did I would have settled with her happily, but there was just something there. I forced myself to try have sex with her a few times, even to the point she would get mad her friends were having sex and we weren't. I tried so many things even sex toys but I just couldn't get past the feeling not know what it was. Of Course she never knew what happened, I think I might have said something drunk once but I don't remember, and I know at times she seen I was uncomfortable and she would stop and just say we can do other things. To cut the long story short, she ended up going to a party getting drunk and sleeping with a guy because I she wasnt getting anything from me her words.

Of course this lead to a string of me forcing myself into uncomfortable situations after hearing a tony robbins talk, such as one night stands and tinder hookups, but every time I come away feeling terrible, where I would lock myself completely away from the world and just have an emotional crash without knowing why.

Its only years later to now, that I finally understand what happened when I was young and as a teenager, that I am finally starting to deal with things properly, that everything that was happening and making me feel that way was because what happened. becoming comfortable in myself, trying new things slowly trying to learn to become sociable and comfortable with sex of any type in general. I am using Hypnosis for this for allowing me to be more relaxed and comfortable with sexual topics and the social aspects of life, in general, it has been a big help for me.

Best Advice I can give...
Tell your partner that you have past trauma you are dealing with and that you need to take things slow with them, being afraid to tell someone to slow down still kind of terrifies me but it needs to be done.

And not to focus on it too much, it is related to your past trauma, it's not a physical issue, and it is something that with time and healing in yourself does start to get easier and more comfortable as you heal.
even ruined one of the relationships I tried to have.
I think this is unfortunately pretty common. For years I wondered exactly why I broke up with a woman I really loved, and usually blamed it on something she had no control over. But recently I realized that it was nothing more than because I couldn't feel safe having sex with her. I spent another six-month relationship dodging sex with a woman who really wanted to have sex with me until she broke up with me. And then of course I've spent most of the time in my current relationship being unable to get erections - it hasn't destroyed our relationship, but it's made both of us very, very unhappy.