Erectile Quality

What's all this hype about erectile quality?

You know the ads. They're everywhere. It seems like you can't watch TV without hearing the phrase "erectile dysfunction."

What's a guy supposed to think? Is something wrong with you if you don't have an erection 100 percent of the time, every time?

Maybe the people who sell those drugs (like Viagra) would like you to think so, but as with everything in life, variability is the norm. All erections vary from time to time.

  • If you're worried, anxious, or thinking about something else, all those things can have an effect.
  • If you're sick, your erection won't be as good.
  • If you're tired, that can have an effect too.

What if you're in a new relationship?

If you're wondering how your partner is going to react, you're likely to feel a bit anxious. Steve Levine, a doctor who has written a lot about sex (Sex Is Not Simple), compares sex for the first time (or with a new partner) to that of a two-horse race. One horse is named Excitement, the other horse is named Fear. Sometimes Fear wins, sometimes Excitement wins. Each time the race is run, Fear weakens. Eventually Excitement wins the race most of the time. And yet, our culture behaves as though Fear does not exist.

Are men supposed to know everything about sex?

It seems like expressing any uncertainty is just not masculine. And yet when you think about it, do you like a know-it-all in any other subject?

How do you figure out what is normal?

  • Read books and websites. Steve Levine's books are good.
  • The GoAskAlice website at Columbia University has some good questions and answers.
  • There is a lot of information on the Internet that is only there to sell products, so beware of the ads.
  • In one of Levine's books, it mentions that 10 percent of men have trouble getting or keeping an erection and about 35 percent of men ejaculate very quickly. Now that doesn't always match up with what your friends say, does it?

Do you think people sometimes portray their performance with a little exaggeration? It's common to have these kinds of experiences and it sometimes helps to talk with someone about them. Your partner would be a good person to talk to, but if this seems too difficult at first, you might want to talk with a professional at University Health Service (368-4539) or University Counseling Services (368-5872).