Having difficulty maintaining an erection while putting on and wearing a condom is a fairly common complaint among men. Since safe sex is a crucial component of penis health, and erectile function is imperative for sexual health, it’s important for men to find ways to manage the situation. One of the first steps to doing so is to identify reasons why men have difficulty remaining erect when condoms enter the equation. Then, a man can work toward addressing the issue.

The Stats

The Kinsey Institute, an esteemed sex research group, has studied the prevalence of erectile issues associated with condom use. In one survey, they found that 28% of men experienced a loss of erection while putting a condom on at least one time out of the last three times they used one. These men were about twice as likely to remove their condoms before intercourse had ended as men who didn’t experience condom-associated erectile problems (41% compared to 21%).

This research indicates both that erection issues when applying a condom are common, and that they can affect men’s decision-making around wearing protection.

Possible Causes

The following are likely reasons why men may become soft while applying condoms:

- Nerves. If men are nervous about putting condoms on correctly, this worry can negatively impact arousal. Likewise, if men are nervous about losing an erection during the process, this can turn into a self-fulfilling prophesy.

- Associations. Condoms are important for preventing sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancy. The associations of disease and pregnancy may become so attached to condoms that the objects themselves act as a major turn-off.

- Reduced Sensitivity. Many men say that condoms reduce sensitivity during sex - and that’s understandable, since they create a barrier between two bodies. This may make it difficult to maintain an erection while wearing a condom during intercourse.

- Attitude. For some men, the reduction of sensitivity associated with condoms can turn them into loathed things, and a man can hardly be expected to maintain sexual arousal while dealing with something he despises.

- Poor fit. Some men find that condoms feel so tight that they are uncomfortable. In a similar vein, if a condom’s ring around the base of the penis is too tight, it can cut off circulation, which can physically interfere with erections.


Fortunately, there are ways to manage the above causes of condom-associated erectile issues. Consider the following:

- Wear a rubber while masturbating. This method comes with several advantages. First, applying a condom every time a man masturbates will give him plenty of practice putting on the device, which should alleviate any concerns he might have about proper application (there are plenty of reliable resources online to teach the proper steps for putting one on). Another benefit is that it gets a man accustomed to the sensation; if he is able to achieve orgasm during solo play with a condom on, he’ll be more likely to during intercourse. Also, if a man associates rubbers with infections and pregnancy, masturbating with one on can help re-associate the device with pleasure. Finally, it makes for easy clean-up!

- Try different kinds. The condom market contains no shortage of options, including different shapes and sizes. Use a condom size chart to determine is what right for a man to eliminate issues with tightness and circulation reduction. Also, invest in samples of different shapes. Some come with roomier heads that create a more natural feel. Finally, consider trying condoms with stimulating lubricant on the inside.

- Adjust the attitude. Having pleasurable sex with a condom is absolutely possible. Cultural associations between condoms and inferior sex may be holding a man back from enjoying safe sex. Working with a sex therapist may be beneficial for men with significant negative associations, attitudes or anxiety around condom usage.

Another step men can take for optimal penile health is to use a penis health crème (health professionals recommend Man1 Man Oil) on a daily basis. Sex and masturbation expose the penile skin to friction which can lead to chafing; over time, the accrued damage can cause reduced sensitivity. Man1 Man Oil contains natural moisturizers to soften the skin; it also has acetyl L-carnitine, an ingredient that protects nerves and may promote higher levels of sensitivity. Adding such a crème to a man’s repertoire, along with addressing condom-related issues, are important steps for penile health.