Condom Fixes

Dear Dr. Melanie,

I am a 24 year old male who just started having gay sex. I have trouble staying hard long enough to penetrate my partner. I don’t think it is an anxiety issue because I am able to get at stay hard during mutual masturbation and oral sex, but I lose the erection shortly after I put the condom on. Also I find it nearly impossible to get and stay hard without lubrication (I am circumcised). How can I stay hard long enough for penetration while wearing a condom under these conditions? Signed, Condom Trouble


Dear Condom Trouble,

This is a great question that may also interest my female readers and their partners. Condoms are important during anal sex for two reasons: to prevent sexually transmitted infection (STI) and to prevent bacterial infections. The delicate tissue of the anus and rectum can tear easily, making STI transmission more likely. Also, no matter how clean a receiving partner’s rectum is — through diet, bowel habits, or enemas (not recommended) — bacteria can be trapped in tissue folds and spread to open cuts and other orifices.

Losing an erection when putting on a condom isn’t unusual for men who haven’t practiced or who may be nervous. When you’re at home, practice putting on condoms until you can do it smoothly and quickly while remaining aroused. Pinch the tip of the condom with two fingers while rolling it down the shaft of the penis with your other hand, smoothing out air bubbles. Pinching the tip leaves space at the end for ejaculate. When you’re with a partner, make putting on a condom part of sex play so that there’s no pause in the action.

If comfort is a problem, you may be wearing the wrong size and type of condom. Here’s a good site for sizing information. Styles of condoms offer different levels of comfort and pleasure, too. Here’s a great video by Dr. Paul Joannides, author of Guide to Getting it On.

You mention that it’s difficult to get and stay hard without lubrication, which is no surprise: The anus an rectum don’t self-lubricate, and dry penetration is painful, in addition to increasing the risk of STI/HIV. Forget what you may have seen in porn, where actors rarely use lube. They do use it, but it’s not shown on camera. Hot sex feels good, and anal sex that feels good requires lots of lube. Use a high-quality silicone lubricant. Never use oil-based lubricants (vegetable oil, Vaseline, etc.) with condoms; oils destroy Latex. Stroke the lube on your condom-covered penis and on your partner’s anus. Before penetrating with your penis, lube your fingers and massage the anus to help relax the sphincter, opening it slowly. Your partner should tell you whether/when it’s OK to enter, how deep, and how fast.

One more issue to consider is whether you actually want to penetrate a partner anally. Maybe you’d prefer to be the receiver (bottom) instead of being the penetrating partner (top). Or, maybe you’re just not into anal sex. Many gay men aren’t interested in anal sex, and that’s perfectly normal and acceptable. Oral sex, mutual masturbation, body and genital rubbing — feel free to explore all of these options without feeling pressure to participate in any activity that doesn’t turn you on. This is as true for gay couples as it is for any couple. Great sex is always consensual and protected.