Question: My boyfriend and I have tried to have sex a few times. When he tries to put on a condom, his erection goes down and doesn’t come back. I don’t know if he’s nervous, but he gets really upset with himself afterwards. Is there anything we should do differently?
The decision to begin having sex with someone can be a big one, particularly as people often experience a pressure to be good at sex and to please their partner.
These pressures can put stress of people that may show itself in the form of anxiety about sex or physical effects such as a lack of lubrication for women or difficulty with erections for men.
Condoms: Good and Bad?
Using a condom adds an interesting dynamic to many people’s experiences of sex.
On one hand, using a condom can help both people to feel more relaxed and confident about sex knowing that they are taking measures to greatly reduce the risk of pregnancy and some sexually transmissible infections, or STIs.
On the other hand, using a condom changes sensation for men. Some men find that the act of putting a condom on their penis is related to difficulties with erections.
This may be because the condom is physically uncomfortable for them and thus gets in the way of their arousal. It may also be because the act of putting a condom on the penis means that their attention is temporarily taken away from what arouses them – namely, their partner.
Some men get so upset when they experience erectile problems that they find it difficult to get the erection back. Physically, they probably could do so but the performance anxiety, disappointment or frustration may get in the way of an otherwise strong and reliable erection.
To help your situation, you and your boyfriend might try talking about this situation some time when you are not about to try having sex. You might ask him whether the condom he is using is comfortable on his penis or whether he would be open to trying another condom, such as the Trojan Ecstasy condom, that is roomier throughout the shaft of the penis and may help him to experience greater sensation.
After the condom is on his penis, you might try adding some water-based lubricant to the outside of the condom which can also enhance sensation.
You might try having a few events of sex play that are framed around getting a condom on his penis and helping him to feel good, without any expectation of taking it further. By agreeing up front that you won’t try to have sex yet, but will try to get a condom on his penis and make it pleasurable, you may find that over time you’re able to make it work.
You might also find it helpful to read a book such as The New Male Sexuality or The Sexual Male: Problems and Solutions together. Many men and women have been raised with myths about male sexuality, and about erections, and these myths can get in the way of pleasurable sex that works for both people.