Learn about the causes and solutions for condoms associated erection problems
Condoms are effective at preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Yet, no one safe sex tool is perfect, and condom associated erection problems exist.
In fact, condom associated erectile dysfunction might be more common than you think. According to this study from the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, up to one third of men lose their erection when putting on a condom and one in five admit to trouble staying hard.
While its completely normal to occasionally experience temporary erectile dysfunction, condoms issues can be a real bummer for men who want to keep safe while enjoying sex.
How come I lose my erection when putting on a condom?
Condoms can limit sensation making some men lose their erection with the condom on. If you think condoms make you go soft during intercourse, you may be one of up to a third of men with the wrong condom size or fit.
Sometimes, putting on a condom takes the spontaneity out of sex. It can feel quite awkward to press pause to find and put on a condom. If foreplay comes to a grinding halt, or you fumble putting on the condom, it’s easy to get distracted— and for you to lose your erection.
If you’ve had problems staying hard with a condom before, condoms can trigger performance anxiety and create a perpetual cycle. In fact, distraction and worry about condom use are among the biggest risk for condom associated erection problems.
While most studies on condom associated erection problems focus on young men— and showed that unfamiliarity with condoms increases the phenomenon— these issues can occur in men of all ages.
What can I do to not lose my erection with a condom?
There are three things to keep in mind when it comes to condom related erection problems: the fit, the sensations and performance anxiety.
Education on condom use is quite sparse, leaving many men to figure it out for themselves. For example, did you know that condoms come in different sizes (materials and thickness)? Experimenting with different types of condoms, as well as taking steps to reduce stress and anxiety will help most men to keep their erection while putting or using a condom.
How do I tell my condom size?
A well-fitting condom is a more effective contraceptive, more comfortable and can make sex feel more natural. The first size you try may not be right, so be ready to experiment with different sizes, brands and styles.
Condom size depends on penis girth (circumference). You can measure girth by wrapping a flexible tape measure around your erect penis. Check out this handy guide on finding the right size.
How tight should a condom feel? Your condom shouldn’t be so big that it moves during sex or so small that it is uncomfortable and restricts blood flow. Penis length also matters since condoms should reach the base of the penis with space left above the tip of the penis for ejaculate. Some men who complain that they can’t feel anything even with a correctly sized condom can try “ultra thin” condoms.
Performance anxiety distracts you from the pleasure of sex and can make you lose your erection. If possible, talk to your sexual partner about your concerns. This can clear the air and get you both on the same page regarding how fast or slowly to proceed through each stage of sexual intimacy.
It’s also important to make sure you put on the condom only when your erection is very hard and only when you feel ready.
Training your mind to stay in the moment is also helpful. Focusing on the pleasurable sensations or using guided imagery can help men with performance anxiety.
The right lubrication can go a long way to keep you hard during sex. Applying lube inside the condom before using it can make it easier to put on, more comfortable and improve sex for you and your partner. Warming the lube can also help keep you hard. Be aware, though, that oil-based lubes break down latex condoms, so it’s a safer bet to choose a water-based option.
Put the condom as part of foreplay
Getting your partner involved is another great idea. For example, your partner can stimulate you while you get the condom. Or, even better, get your partner to put on the condom. This will minimize the interruption and will make sure you stay aroused while putting on the condom.
Practice putting the condom by yourself
Some men find it helpful to do a “test run” by using condoms while masturbating. In this low stress setting, you can get comfortable with condoms so you’re less stressed during sex. You’ll become quicker and this will reduce the time you’re not stimulated during sex. Masturbating with a condom on can also help you get used to the sensations.
What can I do if my boyfriend can’t stay hard with a condom?
It’s common for men to lose their erection while using a condom and quite unlikely that is has anything to do with how attracted he is to you or your relationship. Talking about your sexual concerns can feel daunting at the best of times, but when it comes to condom associated erection problems the stakes are even higher.
Men who face these issues are less likely to use condoms, putting themselves and their partners at increased risk of STIs and unwanted pregnancies. That’s why it’s vital to find time to openly discuss your sexual relationship. Remember your boyfriend may be quite sensitive about condom associated erection problems, so treat the conversation gently and be open to coming up with creative solutions.
Are there alternative to condoms?
A range of other contraceptives are available:
- Oral contraceptive pills (OCPS)
- Injectable contraceptives
- Intrauterine devices (IUDs)
Barrier methods (other than male condoms):
- Cervical cap
- Female condoms.
While these options range in effectiveness at preventing pregnancy, no method is fail proof even when used correctly. The female condom is the only other contraceptive that can help prevent against STIs, but it may not be as effective as the male condom.
That’s why learning about condom associated erection problems is so important— it can save lives! Take action to enjoy a safer fuller sexual life.