November 23, 2009

Q&A: I Have Trouble Keeping An Erection With A Condom On

Although condoms typically don’t contribute to problems getting or keeping an erection, sometimes men find that they do.

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Question: I’m a gay male who’s sexually active with multiple partners. I would like to always practice safe sex but I have difficulties keeping an erection with a condom on. Do you have suggestions about different types of condoms or even drugs for erectile dysfunction?

Although condoms typically don’t contribute to problems getting or keeping an erection, sometimes men find that they do. In these cases, it can be helpful to strategize ways to have safer, more pleasurable sex.

This generally means ways to help a man maintain his erection while wearing a condom so that he feels committed to using the condom the entire time he has sex.

After all, if a man starts having sex without a condom and only later puts on a condom – or if he does the reverse (starts having sex with a condom, then removes it and continues having sex without it) – it can put him and his partner at risk for infection.

Size and Fit of Condoms

You might try sampling a variety of condoms to find one that feels most pleasurable for you and allows you to experience maximum sensation. Some men find that condoms with looser or baggier heads or shafts allow for more sensation and thus easier erections.

Other times, the size of the condom is an issue. If standard sized condoms don’t fit you well, consider using a snugger fit condom or a larger sized condom depending on your size needs. Learn about or purchase condoms of different sizes at

Adding Lubrication

Adding a small dab of lubricant on the inside of the condom, in the reservoir tip, can also help sex to feel more comfortable and pleasurable. Then, after the condom is rolled down your penis, you might also apply additional lube to the outside of the condom along your shaft. A warming sensation lubricant may help to increase the pleasurable sensations and thus make it easier to maintain your erection.

Choosing Your Sexual Experiences

You might also look beyond products and turn inward. Are you choosing partners or sexual situations that completely turn you on? If you are having sex with men you are only sort of attracted to, then the best condom in the world may not be sufficient to help you maintain your erection in the way you want.

Sexual arousal has physical, emotional and mental components and you may find that it is particularly important for you to attend to getting yourself extremely interested or aroused by your partner or the sexual circumstances before deciding to have sex with them.

Erectile Dysfunction

Medications for ED are generally not recommended by healthcare providers for young, healthy men who do not actually have ED. If you believe that you may have ED, or if it’s been a while since you have had a healthcare visit, you might check in with a healthcare provider for a check-up or wellness visit.

It is more common for erectile problems in young, healthy men to be caused by stress, performance anxiety or sub-optimal arousal rather than a medical condition. Although many web sites and emails advertise the availability of ED medications, many medications sold over the internet are not what they claim to be and may put people’s health at risk.

More Information

To learn more about erectile function, check out The Sexual Male: Problems and Solutions.