How To Deal When A Partner Can’t Stay Hard With Condoms

Expert-approved ways to make the experience better.

Originally Published: 
Here's what to do if your partner can't stay hard with condoms.
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We’re always hearing that we could be having better sex, a better orgasm, or a better relationship. But how often do we hear the nitty-gritty of how we can actually better understand our deepest desires and most embarrassing questions? Bustle has enlisted Vanessa Marin, a sex therapist, to help us out with the details. Today’s topic: how to deal when a guy can't stay hard with condoms.

Q: “I’ve been casually sleeping with a guy for a few months. We use condoms during sex to protect us from STIs and pregnancy. The problem is that he will frequently lose his erection when using a condom. It typically happens when he’s putting the condom on, but sometimes I can also feel him go soft inside of me. He also complains about not being able to feel as much sensation. He’s mentioned a few times that he would prefer not to use condoms at all, but I’m not sure I’m ready for that yet. Do you have any tips for helping a guy stay hard while using a condom?”

A: Thanks for the question! First of all, kudos to you for prioritizing safe sex. When your partner is struggling to stay hard with a condom, it can seem tempting to throw caution to the wind and tell them it’s OK to take it off. I’m really glad you’re not doing that.

Condoms can be frustrating, but there are plenty of ways to make the experience much better. Here are 11 tips for improving your condom experience.

1. Try Different Types Of Condoms

One of the biggest condom myths is that all condoms are alike. It’s just a little piece of plastic; they can’t be that different, right? Wrong! There are actually tons of different condoms that perform very differently from each other. The trick to improving your condom experience is to experiment with lots of different models. There’s a really cool company called Lucky Bloke that is solely dedicated to helping men find the right condom for them. If you want to surprise your guy with some new options, you can also check out their condom sampler packs.

2. Get The Right Fit

Another condom myth is that they’re one-size-fits-all. The truth is that size does matter (when it comes to condoms!). Fit is extremely important. A condom that’s too small will feel restricting, and will decrease sensation. A condom that’s too big will slide around and can run the risk of slipping off. Lucky Bloke has a guide to finding the right condom size, and sampler packs that you can buy based on your size category.

3. Emphasize Sensation

If your guy is going limp during sex, it sounds like he might not be feeling enough sensation when he’s inside of you. Again, getting the proper-sized condom should help a lot. You can also look into condoms that are designed to create even more sensation, like extra thin or ribbed or studded condoms.

4. Invest In Your Condoms

You really get what you pay for when it comes to condoms. Condoms are expensive, so most people tend to nab free ones from student centers or health clinics. To be clear — I think it’s important for free condoms to be readily available, so I love that there are so many places that give them away. At the same time, freebie condoms don’t tend to be particularly pleasurable condoms. If you’re able and willing to spend a bit of money on a higher-quality condom, you’ll absolutely be able to feel the difference. Check out LELO’s Hex condom for a perfect example of what I mean.

5. Ask Him To Try Masturbating With A Condom On

Once your guy has found some better-suited condoms, the next step he can take is to try masturbating with a condom on. He might not be thrilled by the idea at first, but this can help him get used to the different sensation. If he frequently loses his erection with a condom, he may have started to create an association between condoms and embarrassing performance issues. Masturbating with a condom on will help break that association, and help him feel more comfortable and confident.

6. Keep Condoms Within Arm’s Reach

Now, let’s get into some tips that the two of you can try out in the moment. One of the main problems that comes up for men is that it can be a mood killer to interrupt what you’re doing and go searching for a condom. If your condom stash is buried at the bottom of your bedside table, this search mission can take quite some time! The more time it takes, the more his erection will start to subside. One simple solution is to make sure your condoms are always within arm’s reach. Put them in a little bowl on your bedside table. You can even grab a condom and put it next to you on the mattress for super-quick access.

7. Make Sure He’s Very Hard Before Putting It On

When you’re together, make sure that he is rock hard before even thinking about a condom. A lot of guys are in a rush to get to intercourse, and your guy may be reaching for the condom before he’s fully hard. It’s he’s not totally hard when he puts the condom on, he’s going to get even less hard once it’s on. Make sure to take your time with each other. If you see him reaching for a condom, grab his hand and tease him a bit more.

8. Use Lube

You can also try adding a dab of lube to the tip of the condom before rolling it on. Many condoms come pre-lubricated, but an extra drop can make a world of difference. It will help the condom feel much better against his skin.

9. Put The Condom On In A Sexy Way

Like I mentioned above, it’s likely that your guy has started associating condoms with erectile difficulties. This is a really stressful experience, and it’s likely that he’s feeling some anxiety in the moment. You can help him relax by trying to make the condom application experience more enjoyable. You can try putting the condom on him, giving him a hand job at the same time. Or you can lick or stroke his balls, or kiss his neck, as he puts it on himself. The sexier you can make that moment, the better!

10. If The Issue Persists, Consider An Alternate Form Of Birth Control

I know you mentioned that the two of you are casual, but if it ever becomes more serious, you can consider other forms of birth control. One easy swap is the female condom. The female condom isn’t without its drawbacks, but most men seem to enjoy it a bit more. If you’re both willing to share your STI test results with each other, you can try looking into an IUD or diaphragm. Check out these questions to ask your OB/GYN about choosing a birth control method that works for you.

11. Don’t Be Persuaded To Have Unsafe Sex

Finally, I just wanted to mention that it’s important not to let a guy persuade you to have unprotected sex simply because he doesn’t like using a condom. There’s no denying that condoms decrease the sensations of intercourse, but a little less sensation is not the end of the world. If he wants to have sex with you, he can deal with it.

Wishing you the best of luck!

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