Why sex on MDMA can be a total flop

Ever been to a nightclub where nobody came? Could be the MDMA. So what exactly causes the notorious “pilly willy”? And how do you avoid it?

When it comes to MDMA and shagging, everyone’s individual experiences are unique. For some, it’s a sex drug largely because it obliterates their inhibitions. For others, it puts them in a headspace where the idea of just hugging their mates is more preferable to a sloppy threesome in the corner of a club. For others (see: me), it makes you suddenly fancy everyone in the immediate vicinity.

When some people use ecstasy, it just shuts down their genitals causing an erection to fade away like a dying candle. They find it hard to even piss when they’re fucked, let alone shag. According to The Book of Erections: The Penis: A User’s Guide: When activated, the sympathetic nervous system constricts blood flow to the penis causing your erection to fade… This usually happens after ejaculation, can be triggered by stress, or in this case the trigger can be mimicked by a drug: MDMA.”

Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), popularly known as ecstasy’, causes improved sexual experience,” researchers noted in 2019. However, chronic use leads to impaired erection and delayed orgasm.” This is true for me. I know for a fact, for instance, that if I take just half of a pill all night, I’ll be able to fuck but I can never, ever cum for about 1 – 2 business days. This is the phenomenon of reverse pilly willy”. But if I take another half later on, there’s no erections to be had at all. I do love it when you get reverse pilly willy,” my partner says, citing many Sunday mornings spent in a futile attempt to summon an orgasm after a club night. But it does look frustrating for you.”

Approximately a quarter [of the penis-owning population] under the age of 34 have experienced erectile problems at some point”


If I’m at a sex party or a house party that was thrown with the clear intention of facilitating an orgy, I don’t want to cum anyway. You know that moment when you cum watching porn and you can’t shut the laptop quick enough because urmmm, what was I watching? Well, having an orgasm in those spaces is like the IRL version of that. Except you can’t shut off a building with hundreds of horndogs drowning in a sea of their collective juices by closing the lid. So it’s best to ride the lustful vibe all night.

According to researchers, there has been a recent rise in young people presenting to medical professionals as suffering from erectile dysfunction (ED) – but they don’t really know if this is because there is a genuine rise in this condition or people now feel more comfortable reporting it. In terms of previous reporting, it’s difficult to say how many young people were previously suffering from erectile problems,” Dr Sameer Sanghvi, the clinical technology lead at LloydsPharmacy, told THE FACE. But we do know now from a recent campaign that approximately a quarter [of the penis-owning population] under the age of 34 have experienced erectile problems at some point.” He added: It’s a significant number because it was originally thought to be a problem that affected older men. But clearly that’s not the case.”

Sanghvi believes that there could be many factors at play driving these issues – being stressed, having a low mood or being overweight, for instance – so it’s hard to pinpoint a single cause. However, he says smoking and recreational drugs can play a part”.

Desire and satisfaction were moderately to profoundly increased by MDMA in more than 90% of subjects,” an early 2001 study concluded. Orgasm was delayed but perceived as more intense. Erection was impaired in 40% of the men. It seems that MDMA impairs sexual performance, in spite of enhancement of sexual desire and the perception of greater satisfaction.”

It’s a tricky one. On the one hand, you don’t want to end up with the conundrum of being super horny but unable to do anything about it. But, on the other hand, if you’re reducing the idea of sex to just a dick being repeatedly inserted into someone, you’re probably having really boring sex. God invented fingers and tongues and sex toys for a reason. The advice is clear: if you want to end up with a hard cock, moderate the amount of MDMA you are taking.

Note: taking more drugs to counteract the side-effects of recreational drugs is never a good plan – so no snaffling a load of Viagra because you can’t get it up.

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