10 Ways To Stay Erect When Using A Condom

woman and man embracing in bed while the woman opens a condom packet

There are few sex problems more unfair than when you’re just about to have sex with someone you really like, only to lose your erection just as you try to put a condom on.

I think it’s the speed that “oh yeah, here we go!” suddenly changes into “oh shit, where did it go?” that makes it such a frustrating experience.

It’s happened to me many times, but I’ve now developed a solid arsenal of ways to deal with it, which you’ll find below. My advice would be to experiment with different ideas, but also combine them to see what works best for you.

1. Don’t try to put the condom on until you have the best possible erection

In my experience, there are two types of erection. There’s the 50 – 75% strength “okay I think I’m ready, let’s give it a go” erection. This type is just a mirage in the desert that’s best ignored, no matter how thirsty for sex you are.

And then there’s the 100% bulging, throbbing, hard as a rock “look at the veins on that thing!” version.

If you have a problem with condoms ruining your stiffy, be patient and wait until you’re 100% solid before reaching for an erection-slaying condom.

Joking aside, along with tip number two in this list, this method is probably the most important one for me personally.

So keep at the foreplay stage for as long as it takes to get so hard, that even if you lose 10 – 20% of your erection while fumbling with the condom, you’ll still be good to go. Many people complain that men are tight with foreplay anyway, so you’ll probably be doing your sex life a favor by having more of it.

And if there are only very specific things that give you that 100% erection, be honest with your partner about what you need (within reason of course).

2. Let gravity work its magic

man standing

In my experience, gravity can help get the blood pumping. And I’m not talking about the Sanda Bullock and George Clooney movie, though that might help if you have a fetish for spacesuits.

If you lie on your back and try to get the condom on, I find it’s much more difficult to maintain your erection for the duration of the awkward unwrapping and unrolling process.

Instead, stand up, plant your feet firmly on the ground and then put the condom on. Gravity will send extra blood from your big head to your little head, helping keep him hard.

I’ve also found that standing up just kind of makes you feel bigger and harder mentally, which in my mind translates to a harder erection.

It’s also a good moment to inject some comedy into the situation, reducing the stress for both of you. I think sometimes we have this fantasy that we should be super smooth in putting the condom on while somehow undoing a bra with one hand and whispering the perfect dirty talk all at the same time.

The reality tends to be that you just roll over onto your back for a minute and awkwardly put the condom on while your partner pretends not to notice how silly it looks. So you may as well just get up and get the job done however you can, which for me is stood up.

3. Don’t stress!

This is probably the advice I’ve known the longest, but failed to do on many occasions.

Stress, anxiety, worry, tension, insecurity – whatever you want to call it, it’s something you need to tackle.

Dealing with stress is a massive topic – people write entire books on it. But there are a few points that might help in this specific situation:

  • Don’t worry if you get hard initially, but then go soft when the condom moment arrives. Relax, accept that sex isn’t always a smooth process, and go back to foreplay or whatever else turns you both on. Then try again a bit later.
  • Don’t allow yourself to worry that the same thing will happen each time. Be positive, tell yourself every time is a fresh start.
  • Breathe deeply and slowly as you’re approaching condom time. It will help keep the blood flowing around your body.
  • Don’t get angry and rip off the condom, throw it against the wall, and slump onto the bed in a sulk (yeah, I’ve done that). Stay calm, stay cool, tell your partner it just happens sometimes and turn your attention to them for a while to take the pressure off you. Put your tongue to work instead.
  • In the longer term, try to see it as a positive challenge rather than a failure or weakness. Life is full of challenges to face up to and overcome, and this is no exception.

4. Do some condom testing

There are countless types of condoms, with a wide range of sizes, thickness, flavors, ribbed designs and even extras like desensitizing gel inside.

If you know you’re sensitive to condoms, it’s a good idea to do some trial and error. Buy some different brands and find one which fits well, feels good, and isn’t so tight that it restricts your blood flow. Condoms come in different sizes, so it’s important not to get one that’s too small for you.

And don’t just accept freebies or whatever cheap novelty condoms the local store has in stock. Use the highest quality condoms you can find that work well for you.

But if the best ones for you are some lesser-known cheap ones, then stock up so you have plenty of condoms you know work well for you.

photo of a man pulling a condom out of his back trouser pocket

5. Get your partner to put the condom on for you

One minute you’re passionately kissing and enjoying each others’ bodies. The next you’re on your own trying to pass the condom test. It can feel like an abrupt transition from pleasure to a super tense moment.

So why not ask your partner to put the condom on for you? It might feel sexier that way, and takes the pressure off of you to get the job done.

Personally, I think this works well sometimes and not so well other times.

If your partner isn’t very good at putting condoms on, they might accidentally dig their nails into your skin or take so long, your penis goes to sleep. If this is the case, you perhaps need to show them how to put it on well.

It might be that they are too slow and awkward and that you can put it on much quicker, reducing the time frame between starting to lose your erection and penetration. If you think your partner will be up for it, ask them to try to put it on in a sexy way rather than pausing for some slow clinical unrolling.

My feeling is that this is one to experiment with and make your own mind up about.

woman on top of a man in bed, holding a condom in her hand

6. Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Penis Performance

“Now, where did I put that condom?” is a question you want to avoid having to ask yourself.

If you have to get out of bed and frantically rummage through your drawers, wallet or bathroom cabinet, you can be pretty sure the race against time just turned Olympic.

So make sure you know exactly where the condoms are, and that they are within easy reach of wherever you’re about to have sex.

The six Ps: Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Penis Performance. Yeah, I just made that up, but it makes sense to me.

7. Prime your partner

Following on with the concept of preparation, it’s also good to make sure your partner is primed and ready.

Once you’ve got the condom on, the best way to keep your erection, or get it back to 100%, is to be having sex, not more foreplay. So before you put it on, make sure your partner is fully turned on with manual or oral sex.

If they aren’t particularly open or naturally lubricated, either work on them a bit more or have some lubricant at the ready too. And once you’ve got the condom on, stay on top at first to get that gravity working for you some more.

8. Laughter is the best medicine

Light-hearted and fun sex is sometimes the best sex. Bringing some humor into the bedroom helps keep awkwardness, embarrassment and insecurity out of it.

If you go floppy, so what? Laugh about it, stay cool and don’t make a big stressful drama out of it.

Take ownership of the problem, talk, and joke about it. And above all make sure your partner doesn’t lie there silently thinking she’s not hot enough to turn you on.

Laughter can also help you relax, both physically and mentally, which in turn might increase the chance of you getting your iron man erection.

9. Stay away from desensitizing products

If you suffer from premature ejaculation, one of the main ways to deal with it is to use a desensitizing spray or condom. These are notorious for causing erection problems though, due to the obvious loss of sensitivity.

So if you do have problems keeping an erection when you use a condom, I would avoid using anything containing Lidocaine, Benzocaine or Prilocaine.

If you do want to use these products to help with your sexual stamina, try to use the smallest possible amount.

It’s also worth mentioning at this point that other things can lead to a loss of sensitivity and erection problems. For example, too much alcohol, heavy food, some medications and recreational drugs.

10. Does your penis only go soft with condoms?

It’s also important to look at the bigger picture. Do you only have erection problems when you try to use a condom?

Or do you regularly have problems getting or maintaining an erection when masturbating, receiving manual or oral sex, or in the middle of sex?

If this is the case, it’s probably a good idea to learn more about erectile dysfunction. It can be useful to speak to a doctor about it if you feel it’s a serious problem, as there can be many different physical causes they can rule out.

You might also like to read

For more information about erection problems, you might like to read my review of viagra, and also a long article I wrote about erection issues when you’re with a new partner.

Your views

Does the sight of a condom disintegrate your erection? Do you have any tips for putting them on, or just feel like ranting about your own experience?

Let me know in the comments below!

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