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DearSexpert,

I’m trying to figure out what went wrong last Saturday. I went hard at a pregame and downed some beers at the Street as well,butI was in a good place — notblacked outor sloppy. At the end of the nightIran into agirl from preceptand took her back to my room. Things heated up, but when she took my pants off Icouldn’t getitup. She tried foralmostan hour, and I was so into it but my dick wasn’t. I was so embarrassed, and now it’s awkward seeing her in precept. What happened?

-Flaccidlyflummoxed

DearFlummoxed,

I’m sorry to hear you’re having troublegetting it up. Try not to stress out about it too much — according to the Massachusetts Male Aging Study, an estimated 52 percent of men have trouble producing or maintaining erection at some point during their lives. Based on your description of the night, it sounds like you experienced temporary erectile dysfunction due to intoxication.

During a typical erection, blood flows into two cylindrical structures running along the length of the penis, causing the cylinders to inflate and the penis to become erect. Being sexually aroused is not enough to cause this process — thearousal must also becommunicated to your body, andyour bodymust respondappropriatelyby relaxing the blood vessels around the penis. Your problem last Saturday probably occurred with the final step. Alcohol dilates the body’s blood vessels, which in some cases can cause the blood vessels in the penis to remain open such that blood flows out and the penis cannot achieve full hardness. It is therefore very possible that you were “into it” andaroused by your partner, butwere unable tomaintain an erectionbecause of theamount ofalcoholyou had consumed.

My best advicefor youis toavoid mixing sex and alcohol (or if you do drinkprior to engaging insexual activity,making sureyour intakeis limitedto one to two drinks). Doing so not only makes sex more feasible, but also makes it safer.Mixing sex with alcohol or other drugs increases the chances of unintended pregnancy and exposure to sexually transmitted infections because of improperbarrieruse, orforgetting to use protection at all. According to the McKinley Health Center at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign,23 percent of sexually active teens and young adults admit to having unprotected sex because they were using alcohol or drugs at the time.

If you cut back on alcohol and the problem persists, it would be a good idea to make an appointment at Sexual Health and WellnessatUHS, as erectile dysfunction can be sign of a more serious medical condition such as diabetes or hypertension.

A final precaution:

Neither of you can legally consent to sex if you are incapacitated (i.e. slurred speech, impaired physical coordination, vomiting, passing out) due to drinking. You and yourpartnershould always communicate during sexual activity to make sure whatever activities you do are mutually pleasurable and desired. For questions about consent, you can contact the SHARE office at UHS

-TheSexpert

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