Right about now is where I should add a caveat that I've never had a problem. But that would be dishonest. It has happened to me on occasion, and I've had a rich and varied sex life.
Most guys won't admit to erectile dysfunction (ED) because, well, we just don't like talking about it. Ever. Hence why there are no statistics on how many young guys are affected – though we do know that anywhere from 13 to 50 percent of men between the ages of 40 and 70 have problems with ED, while one in 10 can't get an erection at all.
Men like to think of ourselves as sex gods with members as hard, reliable and mighty as Thor's hammer. But it's an unpredictable hammer, and doesn't always perform as it should. Sometimes it's for reasons a doctor can explain and sometimes not – but most times it's for reasons never revealed to women.
Which is where I and my specially selected Brains Trust come in: a group of men and women who have hard-won experience in the field of penile droop.
Yes, by you. You and your darn awesomeness. There have been times I've bedded a woman and had to pinch myself that she let me through her front door, let alone into her bedroom. And with that awareness of not being worthy, or feeling you need to perform a little more than usual, comes pressure. Says one male friend: "I've never had any problem getting it up when I'm in a relationship. The only times I've had trouble are if I'm intimidated or nervous about a girl and there's no history."
Sometimes there's no rational explanation: it can only be put down to black magic. "One time a guy told me I'd put a curse on his penis. He left muttering, 'What have you done to me?'" says one lady friend.
It's said men think with their dicks. No arguments there. But we also feel with them. Remember that scene in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, where Peter (Jason Segel) admonishes Sarah (Kristen Bell) after his Johnson fails to come to the party? "Maybe the problem is that you broke my heart into a million pieces and my cock doesn't want to be around you anymore" says Peter.
Yes, your kindness helps facilitate an erection. Says one friend: "I couldn't get it up once with an ex. She was being a total bitch, and yet still wanted sex. She screamed at me because I wasn't getting hard, and then accused me of having someone else. Game over."
If that's the case, no amount of volcanic foreplay or expensive lingerie will make us want to go through with sex, and we will do and say anything to get out of it. You might hear stuff like, "It only ever happens with someone who I really love," or "It's my commitment phobia kicking in to protect you."
Identified in the classics as "brewer's droop". If we've been drinking heavily, there's a good chance we might have issues when it's time for lovin'. But you probably knew this already.
I have a male friend who's addicted to porn and happily confesses to masturbating several times a day. Online porn is probably the greatest hidden contributor to bedroom ED, because of overuse. Some guys do manage to combine daily blocks of flogging with a healthy sex life involving a real partner. Others fall victim to it.
Something is troubling us. Either we're cheating on you or we're cheating on someone else, or we feel bad for having left someone else for you. Or, in blessedly rare cases, it's pretty much all of the above.
A hot 23-year-old male friend offered this chestnut: "I think it may have to do with psychological problems, 'cos I'm healthy, fit, and I've been sexually active since I was 15 – but it still plagues me from time to time, mostly when I'm not yet comfortable with the girl. With one girlfriend it took weeks. But once we got settled, it was never a problem again.
"It's to the eternal credit of these women that it's never been an issue. In fact, it's usually made the eventual sex a lot better in the end. That's why I say women are generally better people than men." And ain't that the truth.