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 all set to have some amazing action with someone you’re really into, and then boom! Your erection vanishes into thin air just as you’re trying to slide on a condom.

The speed with which “Oh yeah, here we go!” changes to “Oh shit, where did it go?” makes it an incredibly frustrating experience.

I’ve been there countless times, and in this article I’ll be sharing some solid tips for handling it. My suggestion would be to explore different approaches and consider combining them to discover what works best for you.

1. Wait until you’re rock hard

In my experience, there are two types of erections. First, there’s the 50-75% strength erection that says, “Okay, I think I’m ready, let’s give it a go.” Honestly, it’s like a mirage in the desert. Best to ignore it, no matter how thirsty you are for sex.

But then there’s the 100% solid, bulging, throbbing, hard-as-a-rock version that practically screams, “Look at the veins on that thing!” This type is the real deal.

If condoms tend to sabotage your stiffy, here’s a tip: Exercise patience and wait until you’re fully rock solid before reaching for that erection-slaying rubber.

On a lighter note, this method, along with tip number two in this list, is probably the most crucial for me personally.

So, indulge in the foreplay stage for as long as it takes to achieve that rock hard state. Even if you lose 10-20% of your erection while fumbling with the condom, you’ll still be good to go. Plus, let’s face it, many people complain that men are stingy with foreplay anyway, so you’ll actually be doing your sex life a favor by doing more of it.

And if there are specific triggers that give you that full 100% erection, be open and honest with your partner about what you need (within reason, of course). Communication is key.

2. Let gravity work its magic

In my experience, gravity can work in your favor when it comes to getting the blood pumping. And no, I’m not referring to that Sandra Bullock and George Clooney movie in space (although if you’re into celebs in spacesuits, that might help too).

Here’s the deal: lying on your back and attempting to put on a condom can make it trickier to maintain your erection throughout the awkward unwrapping and unrolling process.

Instead, try this nifty trick. Stand up, plant your feet firmly on the ground, and then put on the condom. Gravity will lend a hand by redirecting some extra blood from your big head to your little head, helping to keep him nice and hard.

I’ve also discovered that standing up gives you a mental boost, making you feel bigger and harder (in a confident way, of course), which can translate to a stronger erection in your mind.

This is also an opportune moment to inject some humor into the situation, lightening the mood for both you and your partner. Let’s face it, sometimes we have this unrealistic fantasy that we should effortlessly slide on the condom while expertly unclasping a bra with one hand and delivering the perfect dirty talk simultaneously.

But in reality, it often involves a brief pause as you awkwardly wrestle with the condom while your partner discreetly pretends not to notice how silly it looks. So why not just embrace the moment and get the job done in whatever way works best for you? For me, that means standing up and taking charge.

3. Try not to let stress get the better of you

This is probably the advice I’ve known for the longest time but failed to follow on many occasions.

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

Dealing with stress is a vast topic, with people dedicating entire books to it. However, there are a few points that might help in this specific situation:

  1. Don’t fret if you initially get hard but then lose it 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 give it another try a bit later.
  2. Don’t let yourself worry that the same thing will happen every time. Stay positive, remind yourself that each experience is a fresh start.
  3. Take slow, deep breaths as you approach the condom moment. It will help keep the blood flowing throughout your body.
  4. Resist the urge to get angry, tear off the condom, throw it against the wall, and sulk on the bed (yeah, I’ve been there). Stay calm, stay cool, explain to your partner that it’s something that can happen at times, and shift your focus to pleasuring them for a while to alleviate the pressure. Let your tongue do the work instead.

In the long run, try to view this as a positive challenge rather than a failure or weakness. Life presents us with various challenges to face and overcome, and this is no exception.

4. Do some condom testing

When it comes to condoms, the options are endless. There’s a wide variety of sizes, thicknesses, flavors, ribbed designs, and even extras like desensitizing gel inside.

If you know you’re sensitive to condoms, it’s worth embarking on a trial and error journey. Buy different brands and find the one that fits comfortably, feels pleasurable, and doesn’t constrict your blood flow. Remember, condoms come in various sizes, so it’s crucial to avoid choosing one that’s too small for you.

Don’t settle for freebies or whatever novelty condoms happen to be in stock at the local store. Opt for the highest quality condoms available that work well for you.

However, if the best condoms for you happen to be lesser-known or affordable ones, then stock up on them so that you always have a plentiful supply of condoms that you know work well for you.

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

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

One moment, you’re passionately kissing and indulging in each other’s bodies. The next moment, you find yourself facing the condom challenge all on your own. It can feel like a sudden shift from pleasure to a super tense moment.

So, why not consider asking your partner to take charge of putting on the condom? It might add a touch of sensuality and relieve you of the pressure to get the job done.

Personally, I’ve found that this approach can work well on certain occasions but not so well on others.

If your partner struggles with putting on condoms, they might accidentally scratch your skin or take so long that your arousal dwindles. If that’s the case, perhaps you need to guide them on how to put it on properly.

It could be that they are slow and awkward in their approach, while you can do it much quicker, minimizing the time between losing your erection and achieving penetration. If you think your partner would be open to it, suggest they try putting it on in a seductive manner rather than going for a slow and clinical unrolling.

Ultimately, I believe this is something you should experiment with and form your own opinion about. Explore what works best for you and your partner in these intimate moments.

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

6. Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Penis Performance

“Wait, where did I put that condom?” is a question you probably want to steer clear of unless you’re still in comedy mode.

If you find yourself having to scramble out of bed and desperately search through your drawers, wallet, or bathroom cabinet, you can be certain that the race against time has suddenly escalated to Olympic proportions.

To avoid this situation, make sure you know precisely where your condoms are, and that they are easily accessible wherever you plan on having sex.

Remember the six Ps: Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Penis Performance. Yeah, I just came up with that, but it actually makes a lot of sense to me.

7. Prime your partner

Continuing with the idea of preparation, it’s essential to ensure that your partner is properly stimulated and ready to go.

Once you’ve put on the condom, the best way to maintain or regain a full erection is by engaging in sexual intercourse rather than prolonging foreplay. So, before you slip on the condom, make sure your partner is fully aroused through manual or oral stimulation.

If your partner isn’t particularly responsive or naturally lubricated, take some additional time to stimulate them or have lubricant readily available. And once you’ve successfully donned the condom, consider starting off with you on top to put gravity to work a bit more.

8. Laughter is the best medicine

When it comes to intimate moments, injecting a sense of lightheartedness and fun can elevate the experience to new heights. Incorporating humor in the bedroom serves as a powerful tool to keep awkwardness, embarrassment, and insecurity at bay.

So what if things don’t go as planned and you experience a temporary loss of firmness? Embrace it with laughter, maintain your composure, and avoid turning it into a stressful ordeal.

Take ownership of the situation, start a conversation, and find humor in it together. Most importantly, ensure that your partner doesn’t silently question her own desirability. Assure her that her attractiveness has no bearing on your arousal.

Laughter has a remarkable ability to induce relaxation, both physically and mentally, which, in turn, can increase the likelihood of achieving a strong and lasting 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.

Your views

Does the sight of a condom melt 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!


  1. Hey, great article!
    I am 20, and the first time I tried having sex with my girlfriend was 2 years ago, I wanted to try it, but at the same time I didn’t know what to expect so I started overthinking it and when the moment arrived I lost it. And the nightmares began, I panicked that time and now, every time we try to have sex I have flashbacks of that moment, during foreplay I just lay and beg my guy to get hard enough for penetration. This is getting into my head, I know, that the issue is inside of my head, because without anxiety I can get really hard erections. But I never knew how to deal with it, I know I shouldn’t think about it, we get into foreplay, and when I feel it’s hard I reach for the condom put that thing on and then seconds before penetration I beg God for it to stay hard and guess what happens, it just trolls me and gets soft. My girlfriend started thinking she doesn’t turn me on but that really isn’t the case. Oh yes, we actually had some good sex, but it happened only when I was drunk. I gave up that hard I started looking for some random medicine online, find that thing “Ginseng Panax” waiting for it to arrive in 2 days. I never wanted to use Viagra because I wanted to have sex naturally, that’s like having cheats in some online games. Jesus I don’t even know what to think right now at this point, I’ve given up, my girlfriend wants to help me so much somehow but I just can’t find my mind, it’s too strong. I know the source of the issue, but during sex I just overthink it instead of focusing on having pleasure, this is a nightmare.

    • Hey Luke
      Sorry to hear you’re struggling with this issue. It sounds like you have a good idea that you’ve gotten yourself into the vicious circle of worrying about it. Getting out of that circle is the tricky part. I personally wouldn’t say viagra is like cheating in games. For one, there are no rules and no winners or losers, so who cares? However, I do understand the desire to stay away from strong meds and deal with the issue naturally if possible. Have you considered saying to your gf that you’d like to try some sex without penetration to see how that plays out? So set a night when you can relax and enjoy foreplay, oral, some massage or whatever, without worrying about the end goal of penetrative sex? Sometimes taking away the main stressor can have a positive effect. Then you can relearn what it feels like to be totally relaxed in her company sexually. And with time, try again for sex once you’ve had a few pleasant and relaxing sessions without the panic about getting an erection.
      Give that a go if she’s up for it.

  2. Was married for a few years, got divorced and just got back into the dating scene when it first happened (or didn’t happen… ?). Found this article shortly afterward and tried out your tips. I already suffer from extreme lack of sensitivity on my Jon, which is only exacerbated with the addition of a condom (never used to wear one while married), and I think the biggest thing for me was the condom testing you mentioned, just tried a few until I found one that gave me the most satisfaction, with the least dulling of my sensitivity. Also, not sure if it’s mental or not, but the gravity tip might have some significant merit as well. Thanks for the helpful post Ethan!

    • Hi Jack
      That’s great to hear! Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment and say what worked for you – I really appreciate it, and I’m sure other readers will too.
      Personally, I’m pretty sure the gravity trick makes a huge difference. I sometimes turn it into a comedy act with my current partner – standing there proudly putting it on while laughing just makes me relaxed mentally and the blood flow does the rest!

  3. Hey Ethan, cheers for the ideas bud. I get the same issue and it does my head in. Makes you look like a fool, so I often prefer not to use a jonny. But with a new chick, I want to be able to use one if I’m not sure how clean she is. So damned if I do and damned if I don’t. I’ll give your ideas a shot though. Ta!

  4. Hey, I’ve been going natural with the same girl for a while now. However I recently tried using a condom and found it just doesn’t have the same feel and I tend to go soft a lot faster, I feel like it’s the material or whatever, maybe extra thin ones will help but does anyone have any other advice?

    • Hi there
      Unfortunately, condoms will never feel as good as natural. Some extra thin ones are pretty good though, for sure. And it’s fun to experiment with ribbed ones too, as they can improve both of your pleasure.

  5. Really great article, thank you. For me, normal condoms help, so I was thinking to try one of these benzocaine ones. It’s good to know the possible problems and that there are more options.

  6. If there ARE indeed people with mental issues that can be overcome, regarding condoms, then that’s fine, but I am disappointed in the assumption on 90% of the websites that talk about condom related impotence that this is all there is to it. I have ran experiments with a perfect erection, perfect frame of mind, hard pornography and alone with myself, yet I still lose my erection within a minute or so of it going on. There is no anxiety or expectation of failure. This problem needs to be seriously addressed and researched, and is the reason for the sockingly high continual rise in the rates of sexual disease. The device does not seem compatible with everyone and it is crippling peoples lives. If a ‘cock ring’ creates harder erections, and the ring of a condom should perhaps work in the same way, then we should have the complete opposite physical reaction but we don’t. It’s like lacing up a foot tight inside a shoe and then expecting it to feel just as sensitive and functional. The female condom may have to be the replacing trend in society for those that male condoms don’t work with, and yet we sometimes see the same reverse complaints from the women: “it was uncomfortable. Didn’t feel right/nice”. How surprising. It also can’t be attractive to look down at your partners beautiful vagina and instead see a white saggy sheath hanging out. There is no sex life for people with condom related erection problems – and this flows on to social and emotional problems and ruins lives.

    • Hi Dj
      I can understand your frustration, believe me I can! You’re right about the weird way cock rings help keep erections but the tight ring of the condom base doesn’t seem to imitate it. Have you tried all the techniques in the article I mentioned? In particular have you tried using a larger sized condom, so you don’t get that squeezing effect so much?
      By the way, when women use a female condom, it doesn’t result in a saggy sheath hanging out in my experience!

      • OMG when I used the female condom it was like an elephant trunk! I had it installed correctly but I am fairly petite…it was just too much condom! We laughed but after the 3rd try, we went back to the drawing board.

        Still having trouble with my partner staying hard with a condom but we’re having fun practicing!

  7. I’m almost crying at this point. I’m 28 and this happens to me all my sexual life, more than 10 years now. I don’t date anymore, having just occasional hookups and this happens almost every single time. Perfect foreplay, BJ, I’m rock hard all the time, but when it goes in with condom on – DONE. LOST IT. FEEL NOTHING.
    I’m yet to find someone who would agree to help me practice and overcome this. It wasn’t like that with my exes, when I had regular sex, but now with random partners – this is the only thing I get. I lost so many good ongoing partners because of that. I am constantly anxious about it and when I’m going to have sex I already know this will happen. It’s really depressing.
    I remember times when I happen not to lose it, mostly when I was high f, or when I had it without condoms. OMG. THAT WAS SO GOOD. I was rock hard, aggressive and enjoyed it for a long rough session with a happy partner.
    It’s sad.

    • Hi Max
      I totally understand! It’s not a nice feeling at all when it happens time and time again.
      If you had no problems with ex-girlfriends, and when you were high, I’m wondering if it’s a case of needing to relax, and feel relaxed and at ease with the person. Maybe the casual hookup thing is the problem in that case – try dating someone instead of going for hookups, so that you feel more relaxed with them when it comes to sex. And maybe the ideas in the article will help, hookup or not. Give them a go and see if they work out for you. But I do think you need to find a way to overcome the psychological aspect that seems very apparent. Some positive affirmations that it’s ok if you don’t have sex – you can do other stuff to satisfy her which waiting for your erection issue to naturally resolve. Take your time, do some deep breathing, try to relax etc.
      Hope that helps

  8. Great article
    I’m 17 and new to sex so the pressure is what gets me, although i perform fine without the condom. I don’t know, i guess it’s the way that the intimacy sort of stops suddenly.

    • Hi Shane
      Thanks! It’s always nice to know people like an article:-)
      Yes, the pressure is what gets most guys! The break in intimacy and pressure to ‘pass the condom test’ can be a bit stressful. But if you remember the ideas in the article, you should find something that works.

  9. This is indeed by far the BEST article about this subject. Just look at the bright side of it, it’s actually not even a problem really. If it happens, it happens. Smile it away and try some new things to make it better. And if it still doesn’t work, it’s not the end of the world. Be happy to be alive and that you can experience this kind of things. Just keep breathing and smiling. Great article.

    • Hi Ruben
      Thanks! It’s always encouraging to hear an article is appreciated. Thanks also for sharing your positive thoughts on the topic. I think that’s a great way to see most sexual problems really – just stay positive, do something else that’s still pleasurable, and try again later.

  10. This is the best article I have read about using condoms when you have this issue. Thank you, very much appreciated.

  11. Thanks for this fantastic article! I have this exact problem, and have done for years. It’s annoying because I want to be able to use condoms sometimes, but 8 times out of 10 I lose my erection and it takes ages to get it back again which ruins the moment. Your tips sound like they might help so I’m going to try them out with my gf. Thanks again

    • Hi James
      You’re welcome, and I’m glad you found the article useful. I know exactly what you mean – as a guy, condoms are the best way we can ensure we’re doing our part where contraception is concerned, protecting both ourselves and our partner. So it’s not great if we stop using condoms because we can’t actually use them properly. I hope the tips work for you!

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