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How can I help my partner keep an erection when he puts on a condom?

Many guys have problems maintaining an erection when putting on a condom. The interruption of sex play is often distracting, as is the stress of putting on a condom. Other times, deeper concerns, like guilt or performance anxiety, manage to seep into a guy's consciousness when there's a pause in sexual activity.

It's often helpful to incorporate putting on a condom as part of sex play -- what some people refer to as "eroticizing" condom use. Men who complain that they can't maintain an erection during intercourse because of a condom, which often reduces sensitivity, can try a thinner latex condom, like the Kimono brand, or a condom that properly fits the size of their penis. Condoms are available in "snugger fit" and larger sizes to accommodate a range of penis sizes more comfortably. Condoms remain the most effective means of reducing the risk of sexually transmitted infections and HIV/AIDS between partners, and they are an important part of many couples' sex lives.
Jan L. Shifren, MD
Reproductive Endocrinology
Many men who have had a history of erectile difficulties fear that a break in the action will cause them to lose their erection. Here are some tips for how you can avoid erection problems while still playing it safe:
  • Have the condom unwrapped and within easy reach.
  • Let your partner help you put the condom on if that person is comfortable doing so.
  • Focus on an erotic fantasy while you put on the condom. This will keep you from worrying about your erection.
  • Stimulate your penis as you get the condom ready and slip it on.
Madeleine M. Castellanos, MD
Psychiatry
It's often helpful to incorporate putting on a condom as part of sex play. You can continue rubbing or stimulating a guy in other ways while he puts on the condom, instead of both of you stopping and focusing on the condom. Or, put on the condom by yourself, using your hands or mouth, to keep the stimulation and the sexual rhythm going. Adding some store-bought lubricant to the outside of the condom, after it is already on and completely rolled down the penis, can also help to increase a man's sensation, which may help him to keep his erection.

If your guy complains that he can't stay hard during intercourse because of a condom, which often reduces sensitivity, he can try a thinner latex condom, like the Kimono brand, or a condom made from polyisoprene or polyurethane, which may provide even more sensation for many men. Size matters, too: Condoms are available in "snugger fit" and larger sizes to accommodate a range of penis sizes more comfortably.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.