If you can’t stay hard or keep an erection during sex, we have some advice and helpful suggestions
Imagine it’s a hot Saturday night and you have been hanging with your girl all night long, it’s finally time to get down and dirty. You both rip off your clothes as the passion heats up. Then, just as you slide inside, you go soft. Limp dick hits you like a ton of bricks. Turns off like a lightbulb. Quite an embarrassing situation to be in, even if I tell you it’s very common. You are definitely not alone with this problem so don’t be ashamed! No guy wants to be in this situation, and it's a difficult thing to talk about. Sometimes it’s because of Erectile Dysfunction (ED), and on other occasions, it’s down to performance anxiety.
Depending on who you talk to, ED and performance anxiety can seem interchangeable. But there are a few subtle differences in triggers, treatments, prevention methods, and coping mechanisms. It doesn’t matter what name you give it, no guy wants to be let down by his dick when he needs it most. This article looks at some of the reasons that we men may have difficulty staying hard during sex, offers some reassurances and some practical advice.
How to Stay Hard During Sex
- Short-term or Situational ED
- Longer-term ED, physical health and staying hard
- Performance anxiety
- Practical and actionable tips for you and your partner
- Cock rings
- Plumping cream and pumps
- Penis sleeves
Infrequent or Situational ED
Most guys assume that ED means you can’t get hard—period. But for some guys, infrequent erectile dysfunction can mean it’s sometimes difficult for them to stay hard during sex. It’s often called Situational ED, as it’s triggered by specific circumstances. These include high levels of stress, a lack of sleep, high alcohol intake, drug use (recreational or prescription), tobacco, and even hydration levels.
Situational Erectile Dysfunction can usually be remedied by some basic lifestyle changes. This might mean eating a more balanced diet, taking regular exercise, and striking a sensible work/life balance. In general terms, the positive changes that doctors recommend for better heart-health will also be good for your dick—and, specifically, the quality of your erections.
Longer-term ED, physical health and staying hard
Longer-term, difficulties keeping hard are likely to be connected to some of the most significant physical health issues in the world today. Linked, for the most part, to heart and circulatory health—they include obesity, lack of exercise, diabetes, high blood pressure, and low testosterone levels.
Some guys that regularly can’t stay hard during sex may also have conditions that impact nerve endings. These include Parkinson’s and Multiple Sclerosis—or they may have undergone specific cancer treatments.
Many cases of long-term ED are treatable so long as you talk to a doctor and deal with the underlying cause. You can read more about this in another of our articles. We’ve also got some day-to-day suggestions further on in this article that should help.
For other men, longer-term problems staying hard can be linked to painful erections. Whether that's a result of Peyronie’s Disease or a tight foreskin or a tight frenulum (the bit of skin that joins the foreskin to your dick). These issues can both be treated too.
Scientific studies show a link between performance anxiety and sexual disfunction—including the ability to maintain an erection[i]. It usually becomes apparent when guys are worried about their body image, their ability to please their partner or feel pressure to perform sexually. Perhaps on a first date or on an important anniversary.
If you're under 40 and have problems staying hard, it’s more likely that it's tied to performance anxiety, stress, or worry. If left untreated, it can become a permeant cause of ED.
If you can get hard and shoot your load when you're alone, chances are you've got performance anxiety rather than fully-fledged ED. In fact, in some cases, jerking off can actually improve sexual confidence and break any anxiety cycles associated with intimacy. Jerking off alone will give you a chance to learn about your body so you can clearly communicate what does and doesn't turn you on—which is always important.
Using your hand is fine, but why not make it even more enjoyable—and realistic—with a male masturbator or pocket pussy and treat yourself to some top quality lube too. Combining a pocket pussy with warming lube, for example, can offer such a realistic feeling that guys can completely conquer any anxiety relating to penetrative sex. Just make sure you leave enough time between jerking off and having sex with your partner so that you’re fully recharged and reloaded.
Pole (sex) position
In some cases, keeping hard could be linked to the sexual positions you use with your partner. If the position makes you feel very exposed or it puts you in the spotlight, it can be an ego crusher and cause self-doubt. In these situations, a lack of confidence and anxiety can kick in leading to a limp dick.
If it's a position your partner particularly likes, then you’ll have to have an honest chat—if it’s just an experiment, cross it off the list and move on! If you really want to get out of the spotlight during penetration, why not ask your partner to go on top and drive things. This will literally let you take a back seat and put them in control.
Don’t over-think it…
If it's rare for you to lose your erection is during sex, the best thing you can do is forget about the incident. If you start to worry, then you risk creating a self-fulfilling prophecy of anxiety and self-doubt. This can turn a once a year blip into a serious hangup and long-term ED. For some younger men, performance anxiety can be linked to broader stress, anxiety, and mental health issues. You can find out more about this in on our website.
Viagra and other prescribed medicines can help to keep you hard—whether you need a bit of extra support once a year or once a week. But it's always wise to try and find out the underlying cause, rather than building up reliance on meds.
Be aware of many fake—or unlicensed products—on the web or sold in shops by unscrupulous owners. At best, they'll make no difference; at worst, they could contain unregulated amounts of active ingredients and cause you serious harm.
In some cases, the act of putting on a condom can be enough to trigger performance anxiety and make guys go limp. Some men this is because rubbers can break the flow of sex or put up barriers to intimacy. Others worry that their dick won't be big enough to fill it or that the will latex dull sensitivity and sensual feelings. In some cases, if the condom is too tight, it can restrict blood flow to your dick—which can kill an erection.
Whatever the reason, remember that condoms are still the most effective way to reduce the risk of catching or passing on STDs, including HIV/AIDS. So you can’t just stop using one. At least, not for a casual fling or before you’ve had an open discussion about monogamy, fidelity, and birth control with your partner.
We’d suggest that you try out a range of condoms and find one that gives the protection and stimulation you need without causing anxiety when you slip it on. Try a few when you’re alone, put some lube on (we'd always recommend water-based lube with condoms) on and jerk off until you shoot your load.
Do this a few times, and it should help break any cycles of anxiety—making it much easier when you’re using a condom with your partner. When you’re feeling more confident, you could try some flavored condoms or flavored lube with your partner and just use them for oral. That way, you’ll both get more familiar with using them together—but without the pressure of penetration.
Practical and actionable tips for you and your partner
Think outside the box
Sex with your partner doesn’t have to follow the same progression every time. No-one has ever said that sex has to start with a kiss to a cuddle, move to foreplay and conclude with penetration. In fact, that’s quite an ‘old world’ view, when you think about it.
You can step back at each point—allowing sex to be more relaxed and less structured. This will take the emphasis off penetration and, if you’re feeling worried about performing in that way, you can roll back to oral or mutual masturbation for a bit. Having sex like this may actually result in longer, more fulfilling encounters and more intense orgasms.
Focus on foreplay
If your cock lets you down when you’re just about to slip inside your partner, try a session without any penetration at all—at least not with your dick. Instead, use your hands, fingers, and mouths to turn each other on. Focus on each other’s erogenous zones—for you, that’s your balls, nipples, prostate, the top of your dick. Remember to focus on your partner’s favorite places too. Not only will you show you're an attentive lover, but you’ll take your dick out of the spotlight and remove some of the pressure to perform.
If you’ve always thought of lube as an aid to penetration, then you're missing a trick. Try it for mutual masturbation and for heightening any touch when you’re rubbing up close to each other. This, again, will shift the emphasis from penetration while, hopefully, bringing you and your partner even closer together emotionally and physically.
Keeping an erection during sex depends on a lot of different factors. But blood supply to your dick is one of the most critical. Cock rings—although they're often described as sex toys—create stronger, harder, and more enduring erections by trapping the blood inside your dick when it's erect.
Some cock rings come with ball stretchers to add extra stimulation and allow you to really show off what nature gave you. Others have vibrating or double penetration options to bring even more pleasure to your partner. Whichever kind you chose, they are a proven, non-invasive, and very pleasurable way to keep hard and finish with more power and prowess. Combine with some lube so that the ring slips on easily. If you’re worried about using a cock ring with your partner, try it alone and build up your confidence.
Penis plumping creams and sprays
Like cock rings, penis plumping creams and sprays work by stimulating blood flow to your dick so that you can keep hard. For some guys, this increased blood flow doesn’t just help them keep them stiff, but it gives them a bigger cock too. If you are feeling anxious about sex, this might be just the double boost you need. Combine with a cock ring for maximum effect or just use on its own for a discreet way to stay hard and stay big. These creams are often used with penis pumps too and are worth considering if you regularly find it difficult to get hard and stay hard.
Penis extension sleeves
If you’re struggling to stay hard due to performance anxiety that’s explicitly tied to penetrative sex—and your partner really wants to feel you inside of them, then a penis extension sleeve could help. You can wear them over a hard or soft dick and still satisfy your partner. Lots of guys say it’s like using a dildo, but with the added bonus that you can control the thrusting with your hips and still be close and intimate. Penis extension sleeves may help build the confidence and trust between you and your partner and ultimately make sex more enjoyable and worry-free for you both.
Sex shouldn’t be stressful. In fact, it’s one of the best natural ways to relax, unwind, and release a load of feel-good hormones. So it’s unfortunate when guys get anxious and shy away from intimacy. Hopefully, this article has shed some light on why this can happen and has offered a variety of options to get you back on track.