what can i do when they lose their hard on. Advice on how to handle losing an erection when drunk

What Can I Do When They Lose Their Hard On?

“So, when boys i have gotten with have been drunk, I’ve noticed that they lose their hard on. Is there anything I can do in that situation to make it less awkward or to help them maintain their erection because a lot of the time they get embarrassed by it.”

Yes, when boys (or men), with penises get drunk they can lose their hard on. Fun fact: this is called brewer’s droop. It can affect how aroused they get. When girls (or women), with vaginas, get drunk, the same thing can happen. Fun fact: this is not called brewer’s dryness.

Read more about sex and booze

This is all really complicated because there are two different things going on: arousal and desire. People can really desire sex when they are drunk because their inhibitions are lowered. Sometimes this is good, sometimes this is really very bad. But because, of the depressive effect of the alcohol, it makes it harder to be aroused. Alcohol can make our brain responses much slower.

Read more about arousal and desire

Arousal and desire are complicated

However, arousal and desire don’t always happen at the same time whether someone has been drinking or not. Arousal and desire overlap in a really interesting way. Often it depends on which part of us is taking the lead at that time:

  • is it our bodies (tingling; raised heart rate; genital throbbing);
  • our heads (fancying someone; imagining what it would be like; picturing a scene);
  • or our stories (it’s late – we’ve been drinking – it’s bedtime -this is what we ‘should’ be doing; this is how it is in films).

All of these things can influence each other so much so we often can’t really tell where it is coming from. Sometimes this can put us in the mood for sexy times and sometimes not. 

Talk about it

As you can see, arousal and desire is a complicated topic. It’s different from person to person and it’s different for different people at different times. So you could make a cup of tea, put your penises away, and have a chat about this. Perhaps you could draw on these graphs on your phone* and talk about your desire and arousal. 

*download them and draw on them with your phone app. Don’t draw on your phone with a pencil.

How arousal and desire might work after drinking
This might be how arousal and desire might work after drinking
How does arousal and desire work for you? Think about the last few times you experienced being sexually turned on. How did it go? What affected it? Was there a difference between how aroused you were and how much you wanted to have sex?
Think about how it works for you.
How does being turned on work for you? Think about the last few times you've been turned on. Where did that start for you? In your body, your mind, or in the stories we are told about sex.
And think about how being turned on works and where it comes from.

Also when we talk about arousal, we are usually talking about genitals — which I really wish that everyone would stop doing. There are lots of ways that we can feel sexually aroused that have nothing to do with our genitals at all. All of the scientific studies that look at sex and alcohol measure things like penis hardness and vaginal throbbing/wetness which is annoying. Other scientific studies have found that people can enjoy sex and experience orgasm without any kind of genital touch at all. I just wish these scientists would chat to each other once in a while. 

So you could chat with these chaps about this (the inherent ablism and heteronormativity of much sex research). You could also just take the pressure off these particular parts of the body and see what other things might be enjoyable for you both. A drunken snog for instance, or licking each other’s ears, or stroking each other’s kneecaps — I don’t know, I don’t make the rules!

Read more about working out what kind of sex you might like.

What men and women are taught

The other thing you could be chatting about is about the different messages that men and women get about sex. According to the rules of man club, being a man at sex is all about a) having a penis, b) having a hard penis, c) using that hard penis to have sex with. According to the rules of women club they just need to do whatever to help men do what it is that they are supposed to do. 

Sadly, this means that for many women (with vaginas) once there is a hard penis in the room then it is expected that it should go inside their vaginas. Whether their vagina is aroused or not. We get so obsessed with penises being hard but we don’t really care so much about the importance of vaginas being stretchy, wet and relaxed. This is wrong and it all needs to stop (I’m trying). 

Read more about how to avoid painful vaginal sex

So you could do all of these things, which I hope will help. The other thing you could do is just to wait for a bit and see if the hard on returns. Or just say ‘hard ons are random, don’t worry’ and try again another time. 

Read more about how hard ons are random

Lastly, you mentioned how all of this is awkward. Yeah it is isn’t it? I think it’s better for sex to be awkward than just to keep on trucking. Read more about this in my sex is awkward article

Comment below if you like. I moderate all comments before they appear, just so you know!

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© Justin Hancock, 2024 Find out more about me and BISH here.

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I’ve been a sex and relationships educator since 1999 (with a background in youth and community work). In that time I’ve taught and given advice about sex and relationships with thousands of young people in person and millions online. I’ve worked with many charities, local governments, schools and youth organisations facilitating training and workshops. My two books, Enjoy Sex (How, When, and If You Want To) and Can We Talk About Consent? are widely available around the world. I’ve been on the telly and the radio and have written articles for newspapers and magazines. I’m also a member of the World Association for Sexual Health. Read more about me and BISH here. Find out about my other work here Justin Hancock

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Justin Hancock has been a trained sex and relationships educator since 1999. In that time he’s taught and given advice about sex and relationships with thousands of young people in person and millions online. Find out more about Justin here

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